Monday, 28 May 2018 19:41

Agony Pre-Launch Preview

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Without inferring too many connections between the choice of name for Agony and its developer, Madmind Studio, there’s no denying that the madness that this horror indie instills and depicts is tangible, to say the least. Agony is a first-person survival horror indie that takes place in what it calls hell — a jungle of body-part structures, terrifying demons, and tantalizing story tidbits. This might have been only the preview for Agony, but it promises a strong launch for this Kickstarter phenomenon.

Then And Now

The last time OPN checked in with Agony, it was December 2016, and while the visuals were already stand-out, there wasn’t even any dialogue in place yet. Fast forward to now, and the preview is far more fleshed out (no pun intended), offering not only dialogue but strong voice acting, as well. You can speak to other lost souls in hell, and the Red Goddess will lure you onwards with her seductive voice and ambiguous commands.

The fundamental plot is still the same, however. You’re a tormented soul in the depths of hell, with no memories, and no chance of an explanation except for engaging in a vague pursuit of the Red Goddess. You have the option to do the standard Story Mode, or, for a greater challenge, the Agony Mode. This mode randomly creates levels for you to explore and desperately try to survive in.

Visceral, To Say The Least

Agony is curiously beautiful. It’s set in hell, and, naturally, has some rather hellish landscapes to discover. In the preview you’re plopped into the starting area, which feels like a circuit of caves that are made entirely of suffering human bits and pieces. It’s a dark world, but what you can see will crinkle your nose and cause you to wonder, half in amazement, half in horror.
There’s hardly a normal surface anywhere, and that in and of itself is relatively impressive. Agony forces normalcy to become anomaly, and reinforces that immersion with excellent sound design that will have you twitching in sweaty anticipation. And when you do get murdered by a demon? Prepare for nightmares. Make sure you set your lighting level appropriately, however. Agony can occasionally become so dark as to completely obscure gameplay, even with all your real lights out.

Straightforward Gameplay

There is a skill-point system that offers different sorts of improvements to your person, but Agony keeps it simple regarding most aspects of gameplay. Stealth is combined with a breathing mechanic that helps you to hide from baddies, and combat is performed with standard commands. When you die, you have the opportunity to possess another being to regain your progress in the area, but if you can’t find one before you run out of time, then you’ll be bounced back to a uniquely grotesque save point.

Agony releases on May 29th, and when it does, a mad world full of violence, intrigue, and horror awaits you. The tidbits of story the preview drops causes a ravenous hunger for more, and when the full title comes out, you’ll be forced to endure the chaos and torment that awaits in order to satisfy your morbid appetite for the hell that Agony offers.

The Verdict

Kickstarter darling Agony is a fascinating blend of gripping storytelling and heart-stopping scares. It’s a first-person survival horror indie that, rather than shy away from the grotesque, embraces it as it paints a lurid picture of hell in all its gory glory. If the preview is any indication, Agony will be a benchmark title in how ambiguous plots and graphic scares can be successfully fused into one unforgettable experience.

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Taryn Ziegler

Taryn is a digital content strategist with an avid appetite for literature and gaming. She graduated from the University of Washington Bothell with a degree in Culture, Literature, and the Arts, and since then has been engaged in copywriting for businesses from AutoNation to DirtFish Rally School. While she'll happily play most games set in front of her, Taryn heartily prefers a good ol' turn-based strategy RPG, such as Fire Emblem Echoes: Shadows of Valentia and Divinity: Original Sin.