Throughout our lives, everyone will make mistakes, even when all signs point to failure. Blame it on too much to drink, high hopes, or simple ignorance, rest assured it is going to happen. My most recent mistake was purchasing Agony. Despite the horrible reviews, I still gave it a shot as it was one of my most anticipated games of the year. I spent hours reading reviews, watching streams, and praying for a console patch, which was released prior to my purchase. Sadly, much like Manhunt 2, it feels like too much of an effort was put into censoring the title late in development, failing to add the much needed polish that would’ve elevated the game to the level shown in the early trailers.
Agony takes no time putting you in the depths of Hell, which looks amazing at times, particularly when the player is standing still. Everything shines as if covered in viscera and gore, which paints a startling depiction of what Hell is meant to be. After a well animated, although slightly jerky cut scene, you’ll awaken as a new denizen of Hell in search of the Red Goddess, who can supposedly allow the unnamed hero (or villain) a way out of Hades. Throughout your journey, you’ll meet other doomed residents of purgatory as well as some less than friendly vagina-with-teeth-faced demons.
While these demons are terrifying to look at, they are frustrating as all Hell to deal with. They are blind and rely strictly on sound to locate you. If successful, they will make quick work of you, resulting in you being kicked from the host body you inhabit, requiring you to find a new body, or be kicked back to one of the misplaced checkpoints. There are plenty of hosts around, but prior to being able to possess them, you have to remove these dark hoods that cover their heads. Sounds easy enough, right? Well, the demon’s make the often unfair Xenomorph from Alien Isolation seem dumb. For being blind, they have pinpoint accuracy, which is frustrating to say the least. It wouldn’t be so bad if your character didn’t walk like a dazed and confused snail, who has no means of defense aside from throwing the occasional torch (which leaves you to wander about aimlessly in near pitch black areas). Pouring salt into the literal wound, the animation that ensues when you take over a new host is overly lengthy. I was killed three times back to back prior to regaining control of the new host, leading to me running out of hosts in the area, resulting in being transported almost to the beginning of the game.
The checkpoint system is interesting, but unbalanced. To activate a checkpoint you simply need to interact with an eerie shrine of sorts, comprised of a head in the center of a circle of severed arms. You can respawn here a total of three times, and if you exceed this, you’ll be kicked back to your previous checkpoint. If the game was not as punishing, this would be a nice way to encourage risk vs. reward gameplay, but with the way the rest of the mechanics work, as well as the uber confusing level design, this becomes an annoyance quite early. The rest of the gameplay is simply wandering around the labyrinthine maze searching for body parts that act as keys, or deciphering runes which act as puzzles. These have been a common complaint across the review scene, as they are extremely obscure and clunky in the control department. All in all, this is a glorified walking sim with little to offer aside from the insane visuals.
The visuals are indeed amazing… when the game is still. Almost every scene, including the title screen, has screen tearing issues and framerate hiccups galore. These issues render the game almost unplayable. Agony has some truly disturbing images, ranging from dead babies hanging from the ceiling, “genital physics” which work about as well as the bouncing beach balls found in the Dead or Alive franchise, and horribly disfigured vaginas that make a blue waffle look like a normal breakfast. It really saddens me that the gameplay is this awful, as the environment truly stands out as the high point and was one of the biggest selling points for me.
Sadly, the aforementioned issues are not the only things that fail on an epic level. Early into the game, I experienced a bug that sounded similar to a Nine Inch Nails CD that had been scratched to Hell and back on repeat. No matter what I did or where I went, this was a thing. I went as far as quitting the game and starting it over, resulting in the sound starting back up as soon as the title screen popped on my Xbox.
All of these issues resulted in me contacting Microsoft customer service and requesting a refund pretty early into the adventure. While I have heard that the PC version is at least playable, the console versions are packed full of bugs. I would not recommend Agony at all, even for free.
1 out of 10
- Terrifying Atmosphere
- Unique Creature Design
- Bugs Galore
- Everything Else
- Every. Single. Thing.
Agony was developed by MadMind Studios and published by Maximum Games. It was released on PC, PS4 and X1 on May 29th, 2018 for $39.99. The game was not provided for review on the X1. For more on Agony, visit its official site
Here at GBG we use a rating method that you are more than likely familiar with – a scale of 1 to 10. For clarification, we intend on using the entire scale: 1-4 is something you should probably avoid paying for; 5-7 is something that is worth playing, but probably not at full price; 8-10 is a great title that you can feel confident about buying. If you have any questions or comments about how we rate a game, please let us know.