Oh, hell yeah
One of the booths at Poznan Game Arena caught our eye quicker than most. It’s a relatively unassuming space — most of the booths in the indie area are — with a banner or two with some artwork. But, it’s the name in plain black and white that immediately sparked my attention: Agony.
Agony is a game that first hit our radar in August. Jed wrote about a trailer, just a quick blurb about a ten-minute video. Apart from the premise (you’re a tormented soul trying to escape hell), we didn’t know much about Agony. After going hands-on with it for a little bit, there’s still plenty of mystery.
It starts quick. After a falling sequence, we immediately set off to explore. There’s an alternate vision mode where it’s possible to see which demons can be possessed. The particularly intimidating ones were red, an indication that we weren’t ready to encounter them. Some less gruesome-looking souls were green, meaning that we were on their level.
Each demon in hell has a different function. One of those green ones that we saw had a torch; one of the red ones had magic projectiles. The crux of Agony seems to be trying to find the correct demon to progress through to the next section. It’s very much a puzzle game in that sense. Just because everything looks like it wants to kill you doesn’t mean the entirety of Agony will be spent defending yourself. In fact, it seems like there’s no semblance of combat or anything like that.
There’s still danger, though. Before long, we died because we didn’t possess a soul fast enough. The reason for that is because we took every opportunity to dillydally and check out every little detail. It’s easy to do in Agony. The visuals and presentation are simply fascinating. Everything is made up of viscera and nightmares — the likes of human guts and teeth as the building blocks for walls and doorframes. The game’s running on Unreal 4, a fact that I was mostly certain of before I ever asked the question. Agony just looks that good.
Actually, it looks so good that developer Madmind Studio kind of expects to be denied classification in certain countries. “This might be the goriest video game ever right now,” we were told. “We’ll probably have some problems in Japan, Australia, and Germany.”
We had a taste of Agony but it’s not enough. There’s a lot more to unwrap, a lot that wasn’t present in the demo. I want to take a deeper dive into the mechanics. I want to learn more about the story. But, I mostly just want to spend more time in this depiction of hell. It’s a terrifying and amazing thing. Luckily, we shouldn’t have to wait too long, as it’s eyeing a release within a year on PC, PS4, and Xbox One — in whatever countries will allow it, that is.