agent no 6

Agent no 6 Uses Nostalgia to Expose You to Terror

Agent no 6 is going to seem very, very familiar to anyone who used to play Goldeneye 64. I definitely fall into that camp. I spent hours shooting my way across the game’s varied stages, blasting endless blocky soldiers – so many hours with it that it’s a strangely calming game at this point in my life. There’s a sense of peaceful nostalgia despite the bullets whizzing past my head. Agent no. 6 uses that nostalgia against you, though, evoking that sense of childhood fun and then twisting it into something terrifying.

The game is fairly straightforward. You’re dropped into a remote enemy camp buried in the mountains. Once here, you need to take out some terrorists. Your mission briefing calls this an ‘infiltration’, but I started shooting off my handgun at people almost instantly. Sneaking is not my strong suit. And besides, the game looked almost exactly like Goldeneye 64. I already knew that game well. Why be careful or stealthy when I practically know the enemy layouts by heart?

That’s the first feeling that hit me while playing Agent no 6. The game is fairly close to the Dam stage of the N64 game, but it’s not quite exact. There’s some familiar towers and buildings. The general environment has the same color scheme. The enemy uniforms are that same shade of green I fired upon all through my teen years. The weapons all look fairly close to the original game. It’s to the point where it felt more like a remix of the original than someone’s new creation.

That remix feeling made the action feel fresh, but familiar. I felt like I knew this place and the enemies within it. I knew which guns would work better on my enemies. It was different enough that I was still walking into something unexpected, though. These feelings made for a strange mixture that lead to a sense of delight. I haven’t found anything new in Goldeneye 64 in decades, so this felt fresh and fun.

There are a few differences besides the tweaked locations and enemy layouts that make Agent no 6 feel new. There’s a few new guns which I instantly noticed. Having a grenade launcher made some of the tighter enemy groups easier to deal with. I still prefer tossing remote mines, but what can you do? What I didn’t notice was the game’s odd glitches. I’d pick up on them soon enough, but at first, I was oblivious to them while enjoying my Goldeneye 64 remix.

Those glitches, and how they’re presented, are a big part of how this works so well. You get a few visual quirks when you start the game. Just some blocky, flickering images. Later, you’ll receive some cryptic messages that just seem like game error messages. Something or other’s not loading correctly. Some function failed. It’s the sort of in-game warning I usually ignore while playing something. Unless it crashes the game, what do I care? Still, the game was hinting at something bubbling under its surface.

Agent no 6 plays with these messages until it mentions that an Unknown Entity has been found. I still thought this was just some error message. Especially when it said it was unable to delete the entity. Had to just be some error. I’d soon get even more of these error messages about the level not loading correctly. These further cemented my belief it was just some fault in the game. Besides, I was too busy enjoying the music, gun sound effects, and the action of this fun take on my beloved Goldeneye 64.

Then, a new error message popped up. Something failed and the game had to reload. I grumbled, but these things happen. As glitches filled the screen, the word ERROR splayed over everything. I could have sworn I saw some shape moving in the second ‘R’. Had to have imagined that. And was that blood I saw on the floor right before the ERROR-filled the screen? The game seemed to be toying with me at this point, hinting at horrors very carefully.

Going into it, I knew that Agent no 6 was a horror game. I should have expected some spooky things to start happening. However, I was lost in my nostalgia and fun. I was so caught up in shooting the same old weapons at the same old soldiers that the ‘horror’ part had slipped my mind. Nostalgia had taken over my thoughts and carried me back to this sense of comfort, familiarity, and safety. Everything was right in this world, even if I knew it wasn’t somewhere in the back of my mind.

Once the game ‘reloads’, things are dark. There’s no one around. There’s some ammo and body armor here and there, but that’s it. So, you wander the place, stumbling across massive bloodstains and hanged bodies. Shadowy corpses lie around in odd places throughout the level. Something is definitely scuttling around, too. I should have known that I was in danger here, but my mind was still clinging to that sensation of my past experiences with Goldeneye 64.

I have played enough horror shooters that Agent no 6 shouldn’t have been that scary. When some fast, dark figure came tearing towards me, though, I fell into a blind panic. Started firing wildly. Backpedaled as fast as I could. I KNEW this was a horror game going into it. Something was going to come out to scare me. It was like my mind resisted that idea by clinging to that feeling of comfort at playing through something that felt like a game I knew and loved. The creature attack felt like a gut-wrenching shock and I had a hard time processing it as it was happening.

It was so incredible to logically know that something scary was coming, but rejecting it emotionally. My mind was holding onto that sense of nostalgia so hard that it was like it didn’t want to accept the horror that it saw. The developer had done such a good job of making this feel like a familiar, beloved game of mine that I just pushed the horror aside. I couldn’t accept it. So, when things got scary, it was jarring and terrifying.

Agent no 6 makes incredible use of nostalgia and a favorite childhood game to get players to drop their guard. At least, players like me. By using something familiar to me and skewing very close to it, it managed to recreate that sense of comfort and safety I get from playing games I have loved for decades. By drawing that feeling out of me, it got me to completely drop my guard, opening me up to some powerful scares. Even when I KNEW I was in danger, I couldn’t accept it because of how the game made me feel. It’s an incredible demonstration of how our feelings, memories, and nostalgia can be used against us, and how inflexible we can be when those emotions are stirred up just right.