We all love a good survival horror game, I mean I love the likes of Slender Man, Resident Evil 7, and The Evil Within and even though it was just a small demo we can’t forget PT. Agony is a first-person survival horror game set in Hell, sounds epic right? The Game started its journey in development on Kickstarter and after a successful campaign got the fund to make the game a reality. The game, however, has been given the age rating of 18 due to its adult nature, language and the gore. I was lucky enough to play the PlayStation 4 version and get a chance to dive into the depths of hell and see what this game truly had to offer.
So, like mentioned above the game is set in the first-person perspective and you begin your journey as a Martyrs who has lost their memories and has been sent to Hell, you set off in search of the Red Goddess, who is one of the creators of hell. You look to seek her help in returning you to the land of the living. Your character however has the unique ability to possess other Martyrs and even demons, pretty cool right? It has various puzzle elements as well, you’ll be tasked with finding certain things for rituals and even find Sigils that are scattered around hell to unlock certain paths for the player to venture forward. The game was fun to play at first but after some time I started to quickly lose interest and even had to drop the difficulty at one point to see if it made the game easy and more enjoyable. The game feels like a massive pain at parts and can get very annoying and difficult.
The game is pretty straight forward and mechanically not challenging, the player’s character can possess other Martyrs and later in the game demons. If you play the game on easy which I ended up doing you can easily possess others but if you play the game on normal you have to make a connection with the Martyr/demon you want to possess and make sure that it stays strong, which can be difficult in certain areas of the levels because of camera angles and how compact areas can be. You come across mirrors which act as a checkpoints so if you die you go back to this point, but if you are on normal you can only go back to a checkpoint three times before being thrown back to the one before that. Yeah, it can get quite annoying if you are like me and die quite a lot in the game. Though don’t worry if you are good when your body dies you become a spirit for a short period of time and in this time frame you need to find another host. Martyrs are scattered around Hell but some will have bags on their heads make sure to remove them while alive so that if you do go into spirit form you can use them as a host. You do get like a pathfinder ability, it temporarily reveals where you should be going but depending on what difficulty/setting you have will depend on how many times you can use it, for me I played it on easy as I found myself needing to use it too much.
Demons are everywhere and come in all shapes and sizes, not only this but you will come across Succubus too. It’s a shame you don’t really seem to have any weapons against them, I mean you can possess them for a short period of time and use their abilities but you find yourself trying to hide within cracks in the walls or under piles of bodies. Personally, I prefer games where I have a weapon to defend myself against these horrors but I understand that isn’t what the developers are going for with Agony. Sneaking around is your best friend as well as torches, though demons seem to enjoy these more than you. You’ll come across fruit that allows you to upgrade your character’s skills to make you gameplay that bit easier. I like the fact that the game is filled with loads of Martyrs each with their own stories as well as seeing how they have become twisted in Hell.
The graphics and sound in Agony are spot on. The developers have put together their own imagination of what Hell could look like and just like we all thought it isn’t pretty, though the game is very dark and at times I struggled to see where I was going. Sure, they had torches but seeing as the demons are attached to the fire it makes it hard to do anything, in the end, I resorted to pumping the brightness up and this made navigation through the game a lot easier. The level of detail they have gone into with the demons, other Martyrs, and the overall environment is certainly stunning and really makes you think twice about Sinning. I mean if this is what Hell is really like you can count me out, I’d be like a bat out of hell. The environment, in my opinion, is the main strong point in this game, the audio is perfect and together they both work hand in hand to create something that is so nervous at times to work your way through. I loved the little details like the sound of blood dripping from the ceiling to the sound of other getting tortured or mumbling to themselves as they’re driven insane. On a few occasions I got scared and did the slow crouch walk around a corner or trying to back away slowly from a demon that had suddenly appeared and made me lose my cool, I would have loved to see this game on VR and would recommend playing it through headphones as the studio have captured these elements perfectly to make the player feel like they are truly in Hell.
There is a good amount of replay value in Agony as if you are like me you would miss things the first time around. I watch other people play it and they took different routes and found different things which to me made me realise how big the game is, I mean there are like 7 different ending. It’s not like your linear horror game there are plenty of places to explore. You can find Paintings in the game that can open certain paths or are viewable in the gallery as collectibles, you’ll also find Note, Letter and statues scattered around that add to the whole story of the game as well as unlock more stuff for you in the Gallery. There are three modes available which consist of Story, Agony and Succubus mode, Story mode is the main playthrough, Agony offers you procedurally generated levels to test your survival skills and see how long you can last and Succubus mode will allow you to play given levels as a succubus. I personally enjoyed Agony mode as it was fun trying to use all the skills that I learnt from the main story in these procedurally generated levels. I did try and see if I could get my name on to the global ranking, I think I managed but not that high up. Finally as always you will have the PlayStation Trophies for the players trying to get another Platinum in their collection.
Overall Agony is a good game, though it lacks a really scare factor after the first few scares it makes for some unique gameplay in a well-designed environment. I like the fact that it’s not linear, you can explore loads of different areas and do different things from what the main story is offering. I didn’t much like the slow-paced gameplay at times, I’m more prefer to run and gun and fight things head on than hide in corners and wait for it to pass. Though that being said I can’t fault the game for its gameplay because this is what the developers were going for. Having it based in Hell too was a really cool gimmick as it added to the atmosphere with it being scary and dark. It’s full of nudity, bad language and gore so if you are Squamish or get put off by nudity then this probably won’t be the game for you. If you are a fan of Amnesia and games like that then this will be definitely one to look out for, if you see it on the shelves I would advise doing some research into its gameplay before picking it up as it feel more directed at a target audience then just gamers in general. I got frustrated with this game a few times due to glitching out and also controlling the spirit form of yourself. You seem to get stuck on the environment very easily which when trying to out run demons isn’t fun at all. Though the developers have done a good job at making a decent game that does bring a level of enjoyment, Agony just wasn’t my cup of tea, I loved the setting and certain elements of the game but the overall experience wasn’t anything amazing it was good at best, I found myself getting lost to much and losing track of where I was meant to be going and what to actually do. Seeing as you are running and hiding most of the time and with the amount of things you are constantly looking out for you seem to miss out on things in the environment that if you had time to explore might have apricated more.