Agony Xbox One Review

June 24, 2018 by  
Filed under Xbox One, Reviews & Features, Xbox

Publisher: PlayWay  Developer: Madmind Studio  Genre: Horror  Players: 1

Age Rating: 18+  Other console/handheld formats: PS4

What can be a more horrific setting for a horror game than Hell itself? I certainly can’t think of one, although it still takes an expert’s hand to make such a setting feel so horrid that it would make you think twice in regard to doing anything bad in your life in the real world to avoid potentially going to such a place in the future. Agony is certainly a game that makes Hell feel like a real place, and it can certainly be appreciated for this, if nothing else.

Being that you have no memory, your task in Agony is to find out why you have landed yourself in Hell by finding and speaking with the Red Goddess. The game is certainly very atmospheric with horrific and hellish imagery making the place feel disgusting, oppressive, and, well, like Hell. The striking visuals and sound effects help pull you into this nightmarish setting, although this is all only when the game is working in the way it should be.

Don’t get me wrong, Agony actually has a fair bit going for it, with its masterfully crafted environment being the chief reason, and there are actually some good ideas to be found in the game. I definitely like that when you die, you take control of your soul, and if you are able to find the body of another martyr, you are then able to take control of it, providing that they aren’t wearing a hood. If you aren’t able to find a new host for your evil soul, then you are forced back to the previous checkpoint. It’s a very interesting way of handling death, and it makes you check around each environment in order to attempt to memorise where the martyr’s are. It’s even possible to take over the bodies of some of the enemy creatures from time to time, which is also handy for when their more powerful abilities are required in order to progress. 

Yes, it’s definitely one of the most warped games you’ll likely ever play.

Sadly, the game starts taking quite a nosedive when you realise that Agony has some rather nasty bugs. Some of the worst bugs that I experienced were involving the sound, with lines of dialogue sometimes repeating over and over again. Other issues with the sound included no music where there was previously music, such as on the title screen, and horribly loud static noises that wasn’t anything to do with the gameplay. There were many times that I died, and upon reloading, sounds became broken, annoyingly continuing without stopping, making the game unplayable. Turning my Xbox One off and back on again often fixed the issue, but I was still frustrated all the same. I have also experienced bugs in which, when I died and took control of my soul, I was unable to move, seemingly stuck on the environment.

The game’s enemy encounters also prove to be rather annoying. Don’t get me wrong, such encounters are tense, but AI can be unpredictable and getting through a section with any enemies often felt more about luck as opposed to any skill, particularly as I didn’t come across any obvious way to fight them off whenever any of them spotted me, and I often felt completely outmatched by their senses as well as their speed. This certainly wasn’t down to my incompetent game playing either – enemies are unfairly difficult, easily capturing you the moment they approach you, with no easy way to ward them off. It’s a shame that such well designed creatures are pretty much wasted.

Then there’s the poor checkpoint spacing, with checkpoints often being placed too far from one another, which means that you frequently have quite a bit of travelling to do following the death of your soul, and there’s also some rather repetitive puzzles in its 8-10 hour run time as well.

The layout of the levels are also poorly designed, and oftentimes I found myself confused as to where to go next. Everything looks the same and blends into one another, so it’s difficult to see paths. And if you are not equipped with a torch, it’s also very dark, and I found I had to turn the contrast up high to be able to see anything, destroying any sense of atmosphere. You do have a floating orb that shows the direction to go in, but traversing these levels can feel very topsy-turvy.

It’s a shame that Agony is so flawed, as there’s actually some brilliance to be found in the design of its sordid environments, and despite the game’s shortcomings I really did want to continue to see what other nastiness was around the next corner, and the story is rather intriguing as well. In its current state though, this is one game that is difficult to recommend, and I can only hope that a patch will be delivered soon to help the game reach a little closer to its true potential.