AGONY (PC) Review
The first work of the Polish studio Madmind Studios has been accompanied by controversy since in November 2016 its creators launched a Kickstarter campaign to finance it. In the video presentation, we were shown a disturbing vision of hell that offered dantesque images full of violence and sex. Although in those first images it was not clear where the shots would go in terms of gameplay, it is clear that the public was eager to experience the sensations so extreme that the title promised, so the Kickstarter campaign was a uppercase success This halo of mystery around the gameplay remained until almost the same day of publication of the title, since in the days before the launch of the same developer used more time to talk about the censorship of the title itself. This censorship caused an indefinite delay of the launching of the title on March 30, date initially announced for its release. The extreme rawness of the images that Agony showed, made it impossible for this to receive age rating in the United States, which made it impossible to launch them on consoles. Finally, on May 29, after passing through the implacable scissors of the moralists who watch over our conscience, Agony came to light. And unfortunately, what was one of the most anticipated horror titles of recent times, has ended up being a disappointing title that lacks much to polish and that makes serious mistakes that distance it, and much, from the referents of the genre as the Outlast saga , Amnesia or Resident Evil .
And yet, if we do an exercise in perseverance and move forward in this grotesque nightmarish world, we see how things improve and Agony shines (not too much) where you least expect it . When you relax in your effort to be an extreme survival, the level design shows good ideas and solvency to give us an amazing freedom of exploration and reward this with several approaches to face the phases of the adventure and with many collectibles that make it very satisfactory. It also surprises us with a good variety of settings, always disturbing and grotesque to the extreme, but which go far beyond what we would expect to find after the initial measures. Pity that Agony shows a technical section of the previous generation , even the time of 128 bits in some aspects, what blurs, and much, the whole. The final visual finish of Agony is light years away from what was shown in the spectacular trailer for the presentation of the Kickstarter campaign, and even the demo that we enjoyed months ago. As we see, unfortunately Agony has many more shadows than clear. And despite this, if we seek an extreme experience with one of the most disturbing environmentsthat we have been able to enjoy, and we have a high patience to tolerate its multiple deficiencies, it offers us a shocking trip at the end of which the aftertaste will not be bitter at all. And to compensate, it offers a high amount of extra content , so if we get to communicate with your proposal, we have game for many hours.
The search for the Red Goddess
Agony’s plot is not excessively complex. We take control of a soul in pain that has descended into the underworld and has lost all its memories, so it does not know how it has ended with such a tragic fate. Once there, we see that we can take control of the bodies of various inhabitants of the underworld, which will be vital to achieve our only goal: Find the mysterious Red Goddess which seems to be our only way out of this nightmarish world of nightmare . The narrative of the game is sparse and diffuse. On the one hand we will find some cryptic notesthat tell us different facts of this nightmarish world However, our protagonist spends the whole adventure in the background, since at no time speaks or says anything, and as we are constantly changing bodies among the unsuspecting inhabitants of hell, it is impossible to develop the least empathy for him. Except in a few counted of occasions that neither is that they have too much to count, the practically totality of personages that we are are mere comparsas without nothing of weight that to say destined to be possessed in case that we need it. The real protagonist is the aforementioned Red Goddess, an enigmatic character whose intentions are never quite clear and whose appearances make history stronger and we are stung to see what happens next. The older, if we venture to explore we will find a multitude of notes and collectibles that will tell us more about the history of Agony.
We must warn here that we are not facing a game for everyone . Its creators have put all their efforts so that their vision of hell is extreme to the maximum, and the truth is that they have achieved it. To the habitual scenes of tortures to the souls in pain seen in other games, Agony adds a brutal cocktail full of gore, viscera, mutilations, sex and various perversions . At times, what we see on the screen borders on bad taste, although it is true that worse things have been seen both in the cinema and in other video games. Regarding the controversial issue of censorship, another tug on the ears for the people of Madmind Studios. And the day before the launch of the game, as we have said, instead of showing the title itself, they dedicated themselves to launch a statement commenting that finally only a couple of seconds of several of the game’s endings had been censored ( has 7). And in fact they posted a video on Youtube with that censored footage, which of course was removed from the platform. Effectively the content of these scenes was quite strong. However, the creators of Agony lacked the truth with such a statement, since the game is missing several scenes that had been seen in the trailers. And what is worse, the overall tone of the game has been lowered in part. For example, bloodin certain scenes and situations it acquires a bright purple tone instead of its natural color that subtracts drama from what happens on the screen. And in general, the carnage present in the scenarios is inferior to that shown in the first trailers. Despite this, the general tone of Agony is truly sick, grotesque and disturbing , and will delight those who enjoy extreme environments.
Camouflaged exploration of survival horror
The main mechanics of Agony is that of survival horror in the first person , in the vein of what is seen in titles such as the Outlast saga or Amnesia . Our character is completely helpless , and if an enemy detects and reaches us, he will automatically eliminate us. To avoid it, we must hide, and sneak away without being seen. For this we have a couple of mechanics such as hold your breath and throw torches to mislead our pursuers. However, the artificial intelligence of the game is at least erratic, and we never really know what to expect from our stalkers. Sometimes they pass by our side without flinching, and sometimes they detect us in the distance to rush mercilessly on us. Once we are killed, our soul will fly freely on the stage, and we have a limited time to own another character that is in the vicinity. Some will need to previously remove a hood while we are alive to be able to own them once we fall. This gives a strategic componentto the title that makes you earn points and is very original. Before going crazy, we must study the terrain, prepare the guests to be able to possess them in case of dying, and study their location conscientiously, since the time to find a new body is limited, and if we do not get it we will have to charge a checkpoint.
The operation of the control points is also peculiar, and is consistent in that endeavor that shows the title because it is a real agony. We can load the same control point three times. If we die a fourth, it breaks and we will reappear in the previous control point that we activated. Taking into account the roughness of the mechanics of the game, and the nefarious artificial intelligence of it, it is very frustrating to die several times for mistakes that are more the fault of the game than ours, and that even above break the checkpoint and we should repeat an even longer sequence. On many occasions it will also be very difficult to orient ourselves, and we will be completely lost without the slightest idea of where to go. To solve this, the title provides us withguiding lights that guide us, although in many occasions they do it in a rather diffuse way. The use of this help is limited and is recharged at checkpoints. We can customize the difficulty of the title, so that the use of these guide lights is unlimited or that the control points are not broken with our deaths.
We will also find several puzzles in our trip. On the one hand we have the look for certain objects on the stage and deposit them where you play. On the other hand, we will be asked to complete some drawings with some paintings that we will make with our own blood, called sigils. We must look for the correct sigil for the scenario among several that are shown to us, following the clues that the environment gives us or exploring. Although they are repetitive, some of these puzzles are well thought out and leave a good taste in their resolution. Likewise there are a couple of combats with final bosses , some not too well carried out, although they leave us a couple of spectacular moments.
The best of the game comes when we advance and besides possessing the defenseless inhabitants of the underworld like us, we can possess the demonic creatures that populate it, each time the larger and more powerful ones. At that moment Agony abandons his corset of extreme survival horror and it is when we can enjoy that level design more than correct and face an exploration that rewards us with items to improve our character, notes on the history of the game and countless collectibles like comic pages, 3d models and more things. The duration of the title is around 8-10 hours, and it goes off if we explore thoroughly to try to get all the collectibles. As if this were not enough, it is more than generously stockedextra content . On the one hand we have the Agony mode , available from the beginning, which invites us to overcome some dungeons generated randomly, in survival mode with a single life or in time trial mode. There is a series of daily online ratings that sting us to compare our scores with those of other players. On the other hand, once we overcome the main campaign for the first time, it will unlock a mode that allows us to live that campaign from the perspective of a succubus, which has many abilities that offer a completely different gameplay, and also allows us to unlock new routes. The campaign played in this way has its own scenes and the story differs from the normal, so it’s a different adventure. Also comment that the main story has 7 different endings. The game has an excellent translation into our language.
Disturbing recreation of hell technically outdated
On a technical level Agony has ended up being a real nonsense . And what is more serious, a light years title of the visual finish that showed in the initial trailers of the Kickstarter campaign, what is a full-fledged hoax. It is even inferior to the demo they launched a few months ago, whose graphics had already suffered a serious cut. Despite the use of Unreal Engine 4 , we found some models of characters worthy of the 128 bits, and many textures of very low quality. The title makes excessive use of the bloom effect and blur, which blurs the final set. And what is more serious, is an excessively dark title, so configure the Ganma to the maximum or you will find areas where you literally will be impossible to advance because you will not see anything. We analyzed in game in its PC version in a computer that is already years old, an I7 4790k with an Nvidia 970 and 16 GB of RAM, and in general the performance has been correct with the graphic configuration to the maximum, with some punctual pull but nothing serious. It seems that the performance in console versions , even in the Pro and X models, gives many more problems to maintain a solid image rate and suffers from excessive tearing. At least the developer is listening to the community and has already released two patchesto try to solve the problems of the game, as much in PC as in consoles, although it is seen that it has not achieved it at all.
What saves Agony visually from burning is an excellent artistic direction, disturbing, grotesque and original , which is extremely impressive despite the many technical shortcomings of the title. It is a pity to think what could have been achieved with a graphic display at least correct, since despite this the title leaves us a vision of hell for the memory that is worth visiting. In addition, as we have said, offers a variety of surprising settings that we are not expecting in the early stages of the game, and that we end up leaving some mark of great beauty, in its twisted way is clear. The flesh, the blood and the viscera are part of the architecturefrom this hellish hell in a terrifying vision of the underworld that ends up being one of Agony’s strengths.
The sound section is something more solid, offering us a kind of screams, laments and other sounds of pain along with a series of special effects that put us in the field completely. The soundtrack, in the background, meets, and the dubbing work is good, although scarce since we will not encounter many conversations throughout the adventure. In short, the sound section fulfills its mission to highlight the tone of suffering and agony of this desolate and merciless hell that we visit.
We have analyzed Agony in its Pc version with a code provided by the distributor.
Agony was expected as one of the great releases of the genre of horror and survival horror of recent years, and has ended up being a major disappointment. It puts too much effort in being a frustrating experience, and its mechanics are neither well implemented nor completely satisfactory. Its beginning becomes exasperating and requires an exercise of perseverance that not everyone will be willing to perform. To finish the job, its technical section is a nonsense light years of what was shown in the first trailers. And yet, if we advance in his world, we see how he ends up shedding his mask of extreme survival to become an adventure in the first person with a strong exploration load that is moderately satisfactory, and finally allows us to enjoy one of the most grotesque, oppressive settings,
It’s a real shame, because the expectations were very high and there is the feeling that we have stayed at the doors of having enjoyed something great if its creators had had something more skill and focused on making a better game and not creating so much controversy. It is not a game for everyone, starting with its strong sexual and violent charge that make it a title for adults, and following its high demands to be enjoyed. And yet, those who do an exercise of extreme patience to immerse themselves in their dantesque universe, will live a journey that leaves an aftertaste not entirely sour in a title that also offers a multitude of extra content that will keep us busy beyond the campaign main and its 8-10 hours duration.