Agony: review

  • Format: PS4 (version reviewed), Xbone, PC
  • Unleashed: Out Now
  • Publisher: PlayWay
  • Developer: Madmind Studio
  • Players: 1
  • Site: http://agonygame.com/
  • Game disc provided by the distributor

On paper – or on screen, as the case may be – Agony is an easy sell. A first-person journey through Hell, you find yourself damned with no memory of who you are or why you’re there. All you know is that a way out is promised by the “Red Goddess”. So you set out to find her, desperately trying to avoid the various demons itching to tear you apart. Along the way you’ll be able to possess other lost souls and, later, demons. There are even multiple endings. Sounds pretty good, right?

It’s not.

One thing it’s important to say straight away, especially regarding a title that promised to be the most terrifying game ever, is that it’s not scary. Not even mildly worrying. A lot of thought and work has clearly gone into the design of the environments (and, to a significantly lesser extent, the enemies). For a horror game, though, that’s barely half the battle. For the first half hour or so, we did indeed feel creeped out, constantly expecting something unexpected to appear around the next corner or to surprise us when we turned around. Nothing like that ever happened though, and we realised it never would.

There’s an important difference between a horror game/movie, and a monster game/movie. They’re not the same thing. Agony is a monster title with horror title aspirations, laying all of its gory cards on the table as soon as they’re dealt without understanding why this means it’s already lost the game.

The UK three days after Brexit.

This would be easy to forgive with fun and unique gameplay. Unfortunately, actually suffering through the experience is so bad that it shatters what little atmosphere is successfully summoned. At least 80% of the game is tedious stealth sections that force you to repeat anything from 5-45 minutes work each and every time you get caught. Oh, and getting caught if you’re spotted is inevitable from short to middle distance, as you can’t run for more than a few seconds without losing breath.

That’s not even the only criticism of the stealth. The areas you need to creep around are sometimes big, and always aesthetically confusing. A combination of poor lighting and homogenous design means that it’s very easy to get lost and/or find yourself miserably shuffling around in circles. It is at least, we suppose, an emulation of what it must be like to internally beg with your heart and soul to be released from a tortuous experience in Hell.

Let’s get back to the subject of the demons, shall we? Most of them are identifiably female. Why do you suppose that is? Is it perhaps a clever and insightful comment on the patriarchal nature of Christianity and the societies that have embraced it, inferring a correlation between the blame traditionally placed on woman for original sin and the prejudice against, and fear of, women in most societies? Or is it because it gave the developers a reason to make lots and lots of digital boobies? Perhaps we’ll never know, eh?

“Look at me, I have boobies like a human lady!”

On top of the rest of this game’s woes, there are technical troubles. Aside from graphical concerns that are mostly addressed if you’re able to download the patches (not including lighting, at time of writing), it’s possible to get stuck on scenery. Two examples of this that stand out to us are the time we were killed by a demon, and found our disembodied soul stuck on the floor like a piece of haunted chewing gum; and the time we stuck a little too well to a piece of climbable scenery and, when we found ourselves climbing across the ceiling, the game started to panic and instantly killed us off. Don’t get us started on the writing and acting…

Given the overdose of gore, breasts, and “outrageous” sickening decoration, it was extremely tempting to plagiarise Luke’s super best bud Lauren Aitken, and have “Please show this to your mum” as the entirety of the review. Perhaps you wish we did. But we are where we are, and that is here: Us begging you to please, please not waste your money on this.

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Written by Luke K

Luke plays lots of videogames, now and again stopping to write about them. He's the editor in chief at Critical Gamer, which fools him into thinking his life has some kind of value. Chances are, if you pick up a copy of the latest Official PlayStation Magazine or GamesMaster, you'll find something he's written in there. Luke doesn't have a short temper. If you suggest otherwise, he will punch you in the face.

One comment

  1. Zachary Ewan /

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts about this game, this look interesting but because I’m afraid of horror movie/game I think I should stick on Secret Slots for now.

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