Horror is a genre that has certainly seen many games over the years, and it’s a case of hit or miss. Those that are set in hell, quite literally, are not quite as common. The original Doom games saw Doomguy descend into hell to obliterate demons galore, and then there’s the classic Dante’s Inferno which is revered by many to be one of the best games on previous generations of console. Now Madmind Studio enter the fray with Agony. Needless to say, the game is appropriately named.
I for one, was eagerly looking forward to getting my hands on Agony, after not only hearing about it, but seeing some rather disturbing imagery pre-release. It was a controversial game from the word go, and there was even the matter of content being cut from the final release on console. I had to play this. I’m by no means a twisted individual, but witnessing first hand, a form of artistic freedom like this in game form appealed to me. After all, it’s not that often we get a game that stirs up controversy like Agony has done.
I installed the game after the kids had had retired to the bedroom, not looking to horrify them, scare them out of their wits, and scar them mentally for life. Then I got my notification that it had finished. Time to descend into the madness of hell.
Upon loading up, I was greeted with a font choice that was barely readable and far to small for me even with my glasses on. Guess I just sit closer then. Then I started the game and the true horror began. Agony is the perfect choice of name for what I subjected myself too, as I struggled not only with the text, but the lack of a decent tutorial. Dumped in the bowels of hell with no idea what I was meant to actually do. I found a torch to light the way, which was as you’d expect, was a bone on fire. It is an essential as the game is unbelievably dark, and hampers any kind of progression. So I turned up the gamma settings to get a better view, and the pain and suffering continued. A bright red hue covered my screen and gave the drab and ugly textures a place to shine. How this was supposed to impress me I’ll never know.
Once I figured out how to open the gate in front of me, I ventured further. Unsure of what was ahead. Disembodied screams and cries of pain echoed throughout the maze of passageways, muttering from the insane and tortured souls followed as they cowered on the floor. I think they are self aware that they are in what is possibly the worst Xbox One game in the consoles life span thus far. There was no knowing which way I was supposed to go once I went underground, and eventually doubled back on myself to the start. Wonderful.
The controls were possibly the worst I’ve ever gotten to grips with. Sluggish, janky and a pain to use. Very little information is given to you as you meander through the opening sequences. Notes are left lying about, hearts that allow you to progress through the next puzzle and barriers that need burning down to allow you access to the next area. And here is the fun part. You end up causing yourself damage by fire every time you use the torch! That’s right, every time. A short event plays out where your character puts out the fire. Good luck if you’re surrounded by enemies.
Now onto the sound and voice acting. Oh please help me. It’s Agony. Literally, figuratively and any other way you can describe. The voice audio repeats itself, cuts out halfway through, and abruptly ends whenever it please. If you have subtitles on it gets no better. They cut out at the same time too, and in that ridiculous font and size, you won’t fare any better. There’s no score to create an atmosphere that invokes the fear of God, or Satan for that matter. Instead, you’re treated to ambient noises, screams and dreadful voice acting. Playing with the TV muted and your own choice of music is a far more satisfying experience.
Gameplay doesn’t fare much better either. The maze that I eventually made it to rewarded me with Chorts. The demon that appears on the cover art, and these are just badly designed. They are blind, so won’t see you. But they can hear you. Apparently I was supposed to hide among a pile of bodies to escape them. But did I find any pile of bodies? Nope. Fortunately, there was gaps in the wall which gave respite temporarily. If you aren’t able to find a space to hide, then crouch walking will have to suffice, and here’s the real kicker. They can bloody well hear you breathing! Unfair as it gets. So hold your breath and wait for them to pass. Only to have them turn around as soon as your breath runs out and kill you. There’s no getting past them with any ease, and then you get sent back to your last save point. If you’ve picked up anything since your last save, best go back and collect it. Repetitive gameplay at its worst. An auto save feature would have been preferable.
Agony promised much before release. Including some amazing looking graphics, but this was not to be. Awful textures, excruciating audio, and controls that are as dead as the protagonist. Mix in an almost unreadable font, and let it bake in the oven for a few hours too many, and the end result is Agony. A terrible shame that a title that generated much hype and controversial news turned out as terrible as it did. The only redeeming feature is that setting of hell we don’t often get. If there was a reason for testing a game to make sure it was in any kind of playable state, Agony would be the setting the bar. It felt unfinished, and is in need of some major work to make sure it is worth buying in the first place. As it currently stands, it is one of the worst games I’ve played and reviewed for KGK.
Overall Score 1/10
Developer: Madmind Studio
Publisher: Maximum Games
Release Date: 29th May 2018
File Size: 9.52GB
Xbox One copy provided for review purpose.
Available on Xbox One, PlayStation 4 & Steam