The Agonising gameplay ruins the gruesome representation of Hell

Title: Agony
Platform: PC, Xbox One, PS4 (reviewed)
Developer: Madmind Studio
Publisher: PlayWay
Release date: Out now
tl;dr: Hell’s representation is sublime, but the gameplay truly is Agony.
Price: Console – £35/$40
PC – £24/$30
Family Focus: Click here for more information.

In November 2016, developers Madmind Studio set up a Kickstarter campaign to fund their project; what looked like a super promising first-person horror fantasy game, that takes you through the depths of a disgusting and terrifying rendition of Hell – Agony. Unfortunately, this rendition of Hell wasn’t enough to save the game from its poor, repetitive gameplay and awful voice acting, so let me give you a rundown on the “Agony,” this game put me through.

Unfortunately, Agony is a slow-paced and repetitive horror title that’s wrapped in a tormented and horrifying representation of Hell; probably the best version of Hell I’ve ever seen in video game history. With its flesh, bone, and blood-ridden walls, massive corpses impaled with expressions of pain and regret mixed with the endless lakes of blood you wade through, Hell is one F’ed up place. This Hell leaves me with conflicting thoughts – it’s making it hard to decide whether or not this game sucks… From an artistic standpoint, I thoroughly enjoyed Agony, as it makes me regret all the terrible jokes I’ve laughed at in my life due to Hell’s terrifying design. But, from the standpoint of a gamer, the game is incredibly slow, and puzzles are super repetitive when they’re having you collect various symbols or body parts to open doors to progress onto another labyrinth.

Agony has you follow one of the Martyrs condemned to Hell, Amraphel, who is tasked with meeting the Red Goddess, one of the creators of Hell, in order to escape and return to the land of the living. Unlike other the spirits, the player has the unique ability to possess both other Martyrs and, later on, various demons, giving them access to special abilities. Using different gameplay mechanics such as holding your breath, crouching, or squeezing into tight alcoves, the player can avoid demons. It’s somewhat similar to Outlast, which does make it unnerving, but due to game suffering pacing issues, the horror is few and far between. Besides hiding, you need to solve the repetitive puzzles I mentioned earlier, in order to unlock new areas which mostly consist of mazes; at the beginning of the game, you have three back-to-back. You can also level yourself up using forbidden fruit found throughout, which can only be described as an apple, with – wait for it – a vagina… You read correctly, check out the image below.

The story of Agony is told mostly through the various NPCs scattered about Hell, as well as various documents which can be found delicately placed on altars that glow with a radiant purple aura. You get informed about the Red Goddess by cowering denizens of the underworld, like how she has a unique appearance for each person who arrives in the fiery underworld. You also get various snippets about your past from other NPCs; you both ended up in Hell due to our protagonist’s cock… All this would be interesting if the terrible voice acting didn’t make the dialogue laughable… Needless to say, this takes the tension out of more nerve-wracking sections.

The game is poorly developed, from the atrocious screen tear, to not displaying at a full 1080p resolution (rather around 810p) and cut-scenes having horrible pixelation issues. Not only that, but the game crapped out on more times than I can count, as well save corruption, which put me off from playing one evening as I lost about two hours worth of progress. Finally, the game data corrupted on me, so I had to reinstall the game; I had to keep pushing forward to give this game a good go, but this, unfortunately, left a sour taste in my mouth. Agony seems to have adopted the curse of Kickstarter games such as Mighty No. 9, where the game held so much promise during the concept stages but that seemed to get lost somewhere along the way during development.

Overall, Agony is horribly paced with the same puzzles playing out over and over again with a slightly different item or symbol being used to progress. The element of horror isn’t especially scary, which as a horror game is a big dent in the appeal factor. The game is poorly developed, leading to poor quality and data corruption, which puts you off revisiting the already repetitive puzzles again for the second or even third time. All of these flaws are disappointing, as the representation of Hell is, as mentioned, disgusting and terrifying, making you want to repent for any sins you’ve committed due to the endless suffering you see. I’d advise against purchasing this game at its current price, but if you’re curious, just wait for a sale or watch a Let’s Play on YouTube.

The Good

  • Hell’s representation is horrifying, gory, and gut-wrenching.
  • The Red Goddess is feral and disgusting.
  • Hiding and holding you breath to get past the creatures of Hell can be unnerving.

The Bad

  • Gameplay is incredibly slow paced.
  • Corruption of save data can be frustrating.
  • Puzzles are repetitive; collecting various body parts scattered about similar bloody mazes.

Family Focus

Agony is rated M for Mature by ESRB and PEGI 18, as it contains some bad language, fruits with vaginas, and violence.

Disclaimer: This review is based on a physical copy of the game provided by the publishers for the purposes of this review.