A hellish survival-horror, Agony was developed by Madmind Studio and published by Playway after being funded via Kickstarter back in 2016. Fun fact - the Kickstarter campaign was started on Halloween, which is quite fitting given the tone of the game. The game raised a total of $182,642 (Canadian dollars), and had an original expected release date of March 2017, so at just over a year late, it ended up pretty par for the course in terms of Kickstarter games.
In Agony, you'll begin as a tormented soul down in the depths of Hell. You have no memories of your past, and you must find a way to survive. The only thing you remember is that hell is under the power of the Red Goddess, so you must find her to get freedom. Special powers allow you to control or possess weak-minded demons, which helps you to progress further in the game. There's also a lot of fetch quests plus puzzles, but these can often feel quite repetitive and used as filler to pad out the 9-10 hour game play time.
Originally rated by the ESRB as Adults Only, the developers had to slightly tone down the gore of the game in order to grant it a Mature rating instead, to ensure that they would be able to fulfill their promises to backers of the Kickstarter campaign. A patch to restore the original version was discussed but caused further controversy, so it's still up in the air as of now.
Considering all of the gore and nudity throughout the game, I'm surprised to hear that this is it "toned down". The gore, whilst initially quite gruesome, felt tame by the end as there's just so much of it. All of the naked boobies, bodies completely ripped to shreds, rotting foetuses and full blown orgies also were not as unexpected as I felt they should have been, which took away some of the effect. These things were to create a sense of shock, and dare I say it - horror - when you come across them, but instead you're just completely desensitized to the inclusion of it all in the game, pretty quickly.
The environments are extremely well detailed, and you can tell that a lot of time and effort has gone into making each and every location look as creepy and hellish as possible. You can feel the pulsating blood coursing through all of the bodies and flesh making up the architecture. It's impressively done, but it is all done to such a high-level of creepiness that it does detract away from itself in a way.
Enemy design, in comparison, is quite tame and boring. Fairly bog standard quality enemies which was definitely quite a disappointment. You've got the whole of hell to play with, and come up with all of these crazy ideas, yet these are the enemies we're landed with? Enemies are pretty damn strong, most times killing us in just a few quick hits after spotting us - and believe me, it's easy to be spotted - which can completely kill all of your drive to play the game for a while as checkpoints are so few and far between (and crazily well-hidden) that a pointless death will often rob you of a good 30 minutes to an hour of work.
Once you're killed, you have a short amount of time available to find yourself a new body to possess in order to keep going, otherwise it's back to the last checkpoint for you. This info isn't clearly given to you as a player, meaning that without this knowledge, you're likely to succumb more than what would really be necessary.
Sound design really adds to the creepiness of the game, and the general atmosphere leaves you on edge and constantly tensing up in preparation for various jump scares that can catch you off guard. I feel that without the creepy noises and slight changes in music to determine when an enemy was near really caused an anxiety spike, and helped the game out a lot in terms of scariness - without actually being an overly scary game, per se.
Overall, we enjoyed Agony, but didn't find it as great as we'd hoped, so we decided to give it the Collecting Asylum rating of:
Have you played Agony? What did you think of it?
Let us know in the comments below!
- V x