The descent through Hell – Agony Review

Bringing to life a horrifically beautiful conception of what eternal damnation would look like, Agony by Madmind Studios takes us through their portal of a true rendition of the underworld itself. Hell is most commonly thought of as the pit of evil which dissuades the righteous from temptation and breaks the wicked who have sinned. Designing a visual conception of the worlds darkest finality is no easy feat. Yet, Agony captures the violence, death, suffering, torture, and pain of Hell on par with a poetic recital. Let’s right into this Agony review.
In pursuit of the “Goddess” in hopeful redemption through level after level surrounded by artistic beauty. This game really makes you believe you’re in hell itself and this is the game’s greatest strength. Despite its take on the survival horror genre falls flat in terms of scare factor and maintaining suspense. But, the sense of adventuring through a demonic hell was what kept me engrossed for the length of its seven-hour main story.

Putting Agony’s’ best foot forward

Stepping into a realm of torture and suffering, your story begins with an ominous enchanting voice luring you deeper into what you’ll find to be a pit of madness and violence. This sets the tone for Agony’s’ storyline. It’s one that will have you traversing the depths of Hell and all its dangers on the whim of its deity – the Goddess. With a chance of absolution, you’re commanded to do a myriad of things. From braving the pits, the demons, the hulking behemoths. You’ll have the pleasure of dragging your naked body to one of seven endings.

Screengrab via Agony

While the storyline in Agony isn’t the strongest, I’ve seen its unique characters and gorgeous landscapes strive to make a worthwhile performance to motivate you through its challenges. From the journals, you find that the supporting cast and the goddess herself each are unique. They are, of course, tinged with a sense of twisted madness. This theme of a mad-house of death is depicted perfectly in the nudity, violence, and gore all around you. For all of its nightmarish scenery, Agony is one of the very few games out there that does justice to the concept of what a beautiful hell is. The upgradable skills, engaging characters and a detailed world all serve as a catalyst for pursuing the story deeper into Hell’s pits.

Death has no meaning to those already in hell

One of Agony’s most unique mechanics is the way it uses death. Dying allows you to leave your body in which you are given a limited time for a second chance. Upon death, you have to find and possess one of the many vessels Hell has broken. Later on in the game, this skill can be upgraded to give you control of the demons that haunt you. Fighting back against these monsters is a game changer and gives you an imbued sense of power opposed to the traditional concept of running, hiding and waiting.

Screengrab via Agony

The puzzles are intertwined into this system and can often range from optional boss fights to secret rooms or passages. To unlock Agony’s many secrets and hidden stories you will have to wander the graphic unknown filled with an assortment of gore-ish creatures. However, this is where Agony falls a little short. The limited number of enemies often repeat themselves and soon feel stale. As a player, I soon lost my sense of fear and instead felt like it became a chore.

Which brings me to Agony’s main problem

For a game that starts out strong with a horror-survival feel, Agony soon loses the initial value of fear and exhilaration that made the first few levels a rewarding and fun experience. After a few hours into the main story, the gameplay becomes notably different. The repetitive enemies and puzzles add a sense of diminished gratification. Most importantly, however, is the sense that you will find the initial unease and suspense of enemies blocking your path to be completely removed. Once you’re able to take control of the demons on top of the concept of death deals minor penalties, comes a diminished sense of challenge and reward.

Screengrab via Agony

At this point, the gameplay gets dumbed down to a simpler choice-making game. You either avoid or die to a daemon, then possess it to make your way to the next objective only to do it all over again. As a result, tense moments later in the story fail to offer anything more than just a good show.
In my opinion, the feeling of fear and suspense was something definitive that held intrigue and attention, sacrificing that for a combat system of limited depth and control reduced the rewarding aspects of completion. If it wasn’t for the gorgeous scenery and resolute cast I would have had to torture myself just to endure the game to its end.

So where does that leave us?

Even with its great level design and its supporting cast, Agony ultimately fails to deliver a compelling and enjoyable experience. It lacks adequate game-play mechanics despite its amazing visual acuity. The well-developed environment just isn’t enough. It ends up providing nothing more than a brief segment of appeal for the first few levels. The repetitive game-play and loss of suspense were too big of an elephant to ignore. It made Agony seem like nothing more than a tour through an artistic rendition of Hell. Agony was a great idea but it was executed poorly. It’s undeniably a very unique game with multiple endings and modes. Not to mention the game offers a variety of ways to play. I do commend it on the attempt to become something different.
Related: Reload Steam Wallet and buy Agony now!
In all of the detail and design, it is clear a large amount of effort went into its development. As it stands, however, Agony is not something I would recommend purchasing. Unless you are aware of its flaws but still want to try it out. I give Agony a score of 5/10. It is not a terrible game, and it definitely does stand out. Sadly, it’s just not enjoyable enough for me to endorse a score above average. This is a great opportunity for Madmind Studios to take the best of Agony. They can improve on its flaws and give us an overall better experience next time around. I might not have enjoyed Agony as much as I would have liked to, but it’s a definitely a game that I won’t be forgetting anytime soon. Thanks for reading my Agony review!

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I eat existential crisis for breakfast. Also loves playing video games in the dark and is very likely to hiss at you if you switch the light on.

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