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Agony Preview (Based on the Kickstarter Demo)

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Indeed a very interesting game, even if the demo was very short, but it is just a demo. Welcome to the Agony preview. Today we shall talk about this very fancy-looking game and indeed I shall try something new. I’m not going to just go be like “this, this, this … story, music, sound, blah, blah”, no. We’re just going to sit down – the two of us dear reader and we gonna bond … *wink* *wink*. No, but seriously, I’m going to write this preview in the form of a casual chat, sharing with you and the developers the experience I had with Agony’s demo and how that went down. I don’t know how short or long this will turn out to be, but let’s just head along, shall we? Don’t look for structure, btw, cuz there ain’t none.

First of all, let me say that I am a huge sucker for horror games, especially ones, made really well. I’ve played a lot of horror games and it has basically come to shape my experience with horror in general. In fact, I did a dissertation on horror games, which apparently my lecturers didn’t like very much, because there was not some well-known specialist, who had written stuff about this and I barely got a passing mark, but to be honest, screw them, I like how my work turned out to be. Anyway, horror and I go way back and even if movies and books ain’t got sh*t on me when it comes to actually being scared, oh horror games are a whole new field. I’ve seen how horror progresses as well and trust me when I tell you this game has potential, but I don’t particularly liked the mixed feelings I was left with after the demo.

Okay, before I go on, I need to mention this. I know this is early alpha and it’s work in progress, but everything I say from this point on is entirely based on the demo and I realize that it may be subject to change or further development. Kay, we may proceed.

I like hell. Like, I’m not religious at all, in fact I hate the Christian religion, no offence to anyone, who might get butthurt by reading this, but I do. However if the Bible got one thing right, that is the concept of Hell and I love it. In fact my favorite book is Dante Alighieri’s Inferno and I even love the game adaptation to that book – Dante’s Inferno. This is partially one of the reasons, why I enthusiastically picked up the demo for preview. The other being my love for the horror genre.

The demo itself was very short (duh, it is a demo only after all). I’d say the entire thing can be done in like 15-30 minutes if you know wtf is going on … well I didn’t. Who was wandering around like a retard and dying for 2 hours? Let me hear you say … me -_-. Well, no actually I have to say that, you have to say you, if that makes sense. Aaaaanyway, my point being is that I ran around like a retard more than I want to admit. The game is not really giving you any direction and it just leaves you to wander around whatever dark pit of hell you got into. Usually I like games, which leave the player to explore on their own, but I wish some things were better explained here. For example the possessing a body thing. I was mashing buttons like a retard, not even knowing whether or not it was working and to be honest on my 10th or so death I finally realized what I had to do to get that “W” button. I’ll talk about this later, when I get to the “me dying a lot” part. The only thing was at least it tells you which button does what and you can see that by pressing M, and also when you get to the relevant feature in game, it kind of explains it. I didn’t understand why we have P for popup menu when Esc does the same.

Okay so right from the start I gotta say, this game looks flashy … indeed very flashy and this worries me a bit, I mean, sure it has its dark parts and I mean dayum you can’t see s*it without the torch, but lighted areas are too flashy. I guess that does make sense in the fact that hell is like fiery and all. Even the main menu, it was so flashy I couldn’t see the custom cursor at all. In the amount of time I spent in the main menu, my eyes started to stress from trying to find the damn little cursor. Also, I find it funny how many games portray hell like the insides of a body. Devil May Cry series likes to do that with the underworld, I think the Gluttony ring of Hell in Dante’s Inferno was like this also. You see insides everywhere and these creepy open mouths. I was actually curious what would happen if I get into one and trust me I tried, but was disappointed that I couldn’t. To be honest I was expecting to die, but yeah.

Speaking of dying, I died … and I died a lot … for various reasons. For example, when I got to the top of the pit, which I had to descend and I saw the demon there what did I do? I jumped right in … yeah. Then again I was dying so much from those crazy cat b*tch demons in the game, like seriously, sometimes it was getting so annoying, because as soon as she even notices you … boom, you’re dead, you bet she gonna eat your face off. And it was so easy to get her to notice you. So the game has this stealth mechanic and I actually want to emphasize on this a bit. So to be in stealth mode you have to crouch and hold your breath and when you do that, basically you are invisible to everything. Most of the time this is how you pass by demon b*tches but you have to get the right moment, because obviously you can’t hold your breath forever. “Oh, but I am dead, why can I even breath?” you might ask. I don’t know … truly, I asked myself the same question and I don’t really know. Anyway, then there is the hiding aspect of the game. Devs, please work on the hiding, because it’s so broken. I find it useless, I never really used the body piles to hide in them, because they were quite frankly useless. I tried once and it didn’t work. I was strolling down this hall thingy and I heard the screeching of one of those demon b… I should stop calling them that, but it’s so tempting. Anyway, so as I heard her, I was like “oh, ok, let me use this conveniently places pile of bodies here to hide myself from the scary demon, because I don’t want her to eat my face … again”. So I hid and let me tell you what happened. She walked pass the pile of bodies and just when I thought I had gotten away with it, she screeched, grabbed me and ate my face … why … just WHY?! I was hiding … what is the point to hiding if it doesn’t work? I mean, I hid better in open space from her, just by crouching in dark corners than in the body piles … wtf? Is this not the whole point of hiding? I sincerely hope they work on this, because as I see it now, it’s pointlessly added in there, because from my first and only attempt to hide from a demon’s failure, I never did it again. And then again, you can even throw your torch to distract the demon, while you sneak by. I didn’t find that necessary as well. When she was passing by I just held my breath and ran for it … simple as that. Honestly, nerf that feature, but boost the others as well, because they seem just a waste of resources. At least the torch was good for lighting up dark places and scaring away locusts, which I don’t really know how it worked, because at some points they hit me even if I was swinging the torch like a caveman all the time.

Okay, here is the cool feature with death. When you die, you don’t necessarily immediately die. You have a short amount of time to find a lesser creature and possess it. In the demo I could only possess the other lost bodies in hell, tho I did have the option to possess demon b*tches, but guess they too strong for me. So apparently you have to mash the A and D buttons until the two arrows detach enough to get the W button and possess the body. When I tried with the demons my hand started hurting from trying to possess 3 demons in a row … seems like I just don’t learn. While dead, you walk around something like a spirit realm and you are completely safe from demons and on the screen the game highlighted bodies with yellow energy and demons with red. I don’t know if they just have distinct auras or that shows that they are too strong for us to possess, but we shall see. Furthermore, you can revive as many times as you want, as long as there are bodies to possess. I like this feature, I don’t really know how far you will be backtracked when you actually die (when I died it just placed me at the start of the demo), but it’s an awesome and unique feature and I’m curious to see how far can I go with it. Will I be able to increase my possession strength and possess demons too? Again, we will see in the finished game, but it has so much potential. Also apparently you will be able to possess demons and I don’t really know how we will play this out and how much it might damage the survival aspect of the game, but again, I didn’t get to see that in the demo, beside the ending cutscene, so we shall see.

Another thing I noticed when exploring was these hints of purple, pink and blue glittery nodes just floating around. I was puzzled at first what the hell they were, because they didn’t really match the theme of the game, but then it kind of dawned on me that they were showing me the way to go (that moment when you realize this at the end of the demo … gee gee brain). I like the way they look, but as I said, not sure they match the whole theme of the game. I believe this can be implemented in another way.

Let’s talk about sigils too. So apparently there are sigils drawn on walls and you use them to draw stuff. There was this room with an incomplete sigil and others drawn on the walls and I had to find the right one to complete it. Okay, I know I am an idiot when it comes to puzzles, but come on, either I am blind and did not see it, or I had no way of telling what the hell completes the damn sigil. I ran around, tried different sigils and after a good amount of 30 minutes of just trial and error, I just gave up and cheated … yes I cheat on demos, this is how bad I am with puzzles. I don’t even know what to say here … hint, please Q_Q.

Final feature in the demo were demonic catwalks, which apparently reverse gravity and that’s how you progress. Again, I think it’s a unique feature with a lot of potential, but again I don’t get the hints of purple, pink and blue, they just seem out of place for me. I got to use this twice in the demo. The second time was a bit confusing but we got there, no worries, I did manage to finish the demo, contrary to popular beliefs.

So as far as I figured the game features two collectables, maybe more, we will see – statues and paintings. I found 2 statuettes and 1 painting, tho I don’t know if they will provide some lore to the game or just be pure collectables, but in the demo there was nothing really more than collecting them. Also apparently you will be able to communicate with every lost creature there, which is super cool, to get some lore out of them. Feature was not implemented in the demo, I know it will be cool, but that didn’t stop me from wasting my time and clicking on all of them just to get the “dialogue not included in demo” sign or whatever. You know, just the life of a retard in her natural habitat.

Also the demo did crash for me once and I had to restart it all over, which was kind of a bummer. But I won’t complain about that, rather than the camera … what the actual f*ck. The camera was bullshit, I mean, I got startled by the camera more times than the actual game itself. It was shaking all the time, while I was walking or crouching, I have no idea why, then there were dismembered arms and legs in my face all the time and I got stuck on terrain, which was not really that hard to jump over … what? I don’t know if that was just me, but the camera shaking was annoying as f*ck.

But anyway, I had fun with the demo, definitely will be trying this game when it comes out in the future and I just hope that it manages to catch the boat to good horror gamesland … please devs, I need a good new horror game. Can’t really say more on the demo and alas, the waiting game begins.

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I am Fresh out of university and looking for a way to break into the game industry, improve my writing and get experience for my portfolio. Currently I am also writing for a Bulgarian media website, much like this one, but would really love to get experience in English too.

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