You know what sucks? Finding yourself within the very, darkest, depths of hell without any idea as to how, or why you are there. Oh, no, that hasn’t happened to me, but that’s what Agony does, it drops you inside a grotesque, bloody world through the eyes of someone else, so you don’t have to actually experience it yourself.
Agony is a horror, survival developed by Madmind Studios, and being catered for PC, PS4, and Xbox One. It was Kickstarted successfully and has since raised $96,030. There are several goals still left to reach, such as $100,000 bringing 3D character models, $125,000 bringing VR support, and $175,000 bringing boss fights. There are 2,071 backers for the game, and it’s not surprising at all, the game does look incredible. Not only that, but the developers behind the game have some pretty solid AAA backgrounds; some have worked on The Division, Witcher 3, Alien Rage, Enemy Front, and more.
The game is a first-person survival horror game, and the build that I am playing is the, jokingly named, Alpha build v0.666. It was released for beta testing and backers to play. You play as a tormented soul, confused about why you have been banished to the depths of hell. Your aim is to escape from hell, but that’s obviously not an easy task. I think everyone would imagine so.
The particle effects from burning embers are wonderful, and blood appears floaty and only just affected by gravity, the teams visualisation of hell is certainly a very demonic, gore-fest, world.
The thing I first noticed is that the visualization of hell within the game is incredibly grotesque. Whereas I’m used to seeing artists illustrations of hell having fire blasting through the floors, screams echoing in the distance, and giant stone walls; Agony takes the disgusting, possible truth of the sickening hallways of punishment, and never-ending damnation. Floors coated in blood, walls made from decapitated bodies, flesh lined corridors pulsating, charred corpses, live bodies, hanging by hooks, the list goes on. When you play this game, you’ll be having nightmares before you’ve even slept. The world is incredibly high quality, and given its demo state, the very first intro video you’re forced to watch each time you boot also acts as a benchmark…well I don’t think it’s intended as such, but rather than being a video, it’s actually in-game graphics. When I first booted it, it ran fairly slow, with moments where it would speed up to catch up with itself. I knocked down my Anti-aliasing, shadows, and post-processing down to high rather than ultra, and it ran smooth after a quick reboot.
The gameplay features the general aesthetics that you’d expect to see from a first person game. Crouching, jumping, and sprinting for example. There are also other options to help aid you, such as attack, which honestly doesn’t do much, so far I’ve only found that you can swing a torch around like a single handed weapon, and push creatures. You are able to hold your breath, which makes you harder to detect. When holding your breath the screen blackens and becomes darker the longer you hold it.
You are actually a soul, you’re not a human, nor a creature, and as a soul you fly around the world in a type of noclip enviroment; you do however use your soul to embed yourself within humanoid forms scattered around the world with a sack over their heads. These can be both male and female models, and once inside them, you control them as a normal FPS game would require you to. If you die, you’ll simply become a soul again, and you’ll have to go grab another body…unless there’s none nearby then it seems like you just get sent back to a checkpoint. Taking control of these sack headed people requires a button mashing system of A and D to weaken the vessel, then finally whacking W to enter it. Around the world, if you ignore the decapitated bodies, you’ll see character statues/remains of creatures, and beings long gone. There’s some characters that can be seen doing work and are currently harmless, for example, there is a moment in which you see a fairly tall gentleman place a baby with a large face onto a wall and the…oh…he slams a heavy rock down on top of it and crushes its brains out. Okay. Oh wait, now he’s got another one…oh…he did it again…babies are basically wall fillers in hell it seems.
There are enemies that are walking around the world, and with my time with the game I saw these creatures that have a female body, but their heads share a rather disturbing similarity to a Venus fly trap plant. When they grab you, you can’t do anything and are faced with a gory death sequence. There seems to be a fair few animations of these death sequences, but one thing is for sure…it’s gruesome, and features a lot of blood.
The world is a mess. Not in a bad way, but it really does look like a hellish mess. There’s blood pools on the floors, scratches on the walls, ash, limbs, teeth for archways, and whatever else you end up stepping on or looking at. Agony is a constant visual nightmare that doesn’t stop, even when you think an area is pretty, you look closer and realize all is not what it seems. Everything has been designed with great care, and while the surroundings slowly force you to follow a narrative, they’re still designed to make it look seamless; and I believe the creators behind the models have put a lot of time and effort into them, and the props, and environments. Not only that but the way the levels are laid out is rather maze like, and very surreal.
There are things that are called, Demonic Catwalks that essentially allow you to change your gravity when you step on them. Normally they make you stop being horizontal and make you go up vertically in the style of a wall walk. They are very noticeable with their dark black, and purple type colours standing out from the mass of red, and browns of the surrounding world. There are idols and statues to collect around the world, but they are certainly not easy to find. They don’t show a glow around them to signify a pickup, they just hide within the shadows until you accidentally pick them up, or notice them if your eyesight is sharp.
The main menu, being in a demo state seems to be a bit lacking, but that could be due to the developer spending more time on the game rather than the menu elements. Everything seems too bright, and vibrant in comparison to to the games theme. And even though, after a playthrough, and collecting idols, and memorising sigils, you end up being taken all the way back to the start of the demo with the last plays collections still prominent.
There’s some characters that can be seen doing work and are currently harmless, for example, there is a moment in which you see a fairly tall gentleman place a baby with a large face onto a wall and the…oh…he slams a heavy rock down on top of it and crushes its brains out.
With everything looking bloody, and horrific, the actual textures are very smooth, and detailed, although I think, at the moment, the textures are not being allowed to blossom, they are hidden away with this type of colour grading that adds a haze effect it seems. On top of that the shading is incredibly dark in areas, yet rather flat in other areas. The particle effects from burning embers are wonderful, and blood appears floaty and only just affected by gravity, the teams visualisation of hell is certainly a very demonic, gore-fest, world.
The sounds of Agony are very prominent. To start you’ve got a slight swelling, droning score that seems to hum throughout the background. There are cries and screams. Fire crackling nearly everywhere, the sound of a big headed baby being crushed will make you twitch, the screech from the venus fly trap creature will widen your eyes, and the chattering of some type of demonic, live gargoyles will panic you.
Agony is an incredibly theatrical game, and even though this was just the demo, it already looks like it could be ridden with side quests alongside the main story. The scenes that happen around you draw interest and fear, the motion blur may be too much, but the action really gets your pulse racing. The demo ends on your soul just about to enter the demon that sits at the bottom of a pit, and then leaves you with a brutal head smashing cutscene, then cuts to a thank you message. It’s a game worth looking into, and a game with a lot of potential. I just hope the amount of gore, nudity, and demonic visuals don’t get cut back. It’s gross but fits the game very well!
You can check it out below.