‘Agony’ (2018) Video Game Review

Madmind Studio’s controversial and hyped up first person horror game, Agony, has been released after being often delayed. The game came about through a Kickstarter fund which proved successful, and relied on a great marketing campaign to build up the hype. Facebook was flooded with visually stunning trailers showing a gruesome vision of Hell, along with the hype of possibly hitting that dreaded ‘AO’ rating. How did it hold up? Read on to find out. 

I’m going to be honest here. I delayed writing this multiple times in the hopes that a patch would be released for Agony, and as the days turned to weeks, it became evident this patch wasn’t coming for awhile. PC received a patch, while consoles didn’t. I wanted to give Madmind Studios and Agony a fair shot, rather than reviewing something that felt completely broken and unfinished. Unfortunately, time ran out and I think it’s time to be honest about the product. For clarity, I played the game on an Xbox One X.

Let’s start with the gameplay. Frankly, it’s boring. While seeing what Hell could look like was interesting, the actual gameplay was slow, tedious and felt like a chore. This is a walking simulator dressed up as a stealth game. The idea is that you need to make your way through Hell to a Red Goddess, but along the way you will encounter demons that will kill you instantly. That’s fine. I enjoyed Alien Isolation, which has the same premise. Get spotted and die. Got it. The problem is that, at no time did I feel any sort of fear from encountering these demons. Instead, it was just annoying and frustrating, due partly to some glitches I encountered.

Once you die, however, you become a spirit and you must possess another character in the area within a certain amount of time. This effectively acts as lives in the game. Unfortunately, the tutorial for this abruptly closed, and I had to experiment with various buttons to see what was what. Then later in the game, the possession mechanic seemingly just stopped working. This made the game 100% more frustrating than it needed to be. One final gripe, and this is minor, but why is there a breath-holding mechanic? You play a dead character in Hell. Holding my breath just seems trivial.

I’m fine with walking simulators, but they need to be engaging. Engaging, Agony is not. There’s definitely a story tied into the game, but it’s poorly written, and I can’t say I remember anything about it. All I know is that I needed to find the Red Goddess, and then I found her. Then I had to find her again. And again. So the story was bad, but surely the environment had to pull me in, right? While the initial shock of Hell was great, it quickly wore thin. You can only see the same moist, blood covered walls and floors so many times until it becomes background noise. The game praises itself on the brutal description of Hell, and it delivers. But like watching an ultra-violent film multiple times, you will eventually become desensitized to the violence, and it will lose it’s impact.

Finally, let’s talk about glitches. I mentioned earlier that Agony is broken, and that’s the only way I can describe it. My entire playthrough was plagued by this awful sound glitch that was just pulsating static. I had to play with the volume turned off. There’s constant screen tearing, and some pretty bad frame rate drops, not to mention the various glitches I had with the gameplay where I wasn’t able to interact with something of importance to the objective. Agony is just another game in a long list of titles that come out unfinished, because it’s easier to just release a patch than to fix it before the game comes out. While I would like to go on and on about games being released unfinished as a norm, that’s a topic for a different day. 

Madmind Studios, I’m not mad at you for releasing Agony in this state, and I’m not mad at you for making a game that just did not captivate me. I am disappointed, however. The hype was real, and the trailers were incredible, but the actual experience of the game left so much to be desired. While I hope that you can release a patch and make this into something more enjoyable, just like my character in the game, I’m not going to hold my breath. Check out the trailer below, and let us know what you think? Have you played Agony yet?

About Matt Stumpf

My name's Matt, and I love all things horror. Books, movies, video games; you name it, I like it. Martyrs is my favorite horror film, and everyone should watch it. I also have a soft-spot for those cheesy 80's slashers. I'm still slightly convinced that Faces of Death is real.

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