Agony was supposed to show other first-person horror films where crays are wintering. Unfortunately, this year’s visit to hell, despite a kind of repulsive charm, will not become the bestseller of the season. It’s a pity.
Many of you have certainly seen trailers advertising Agony. All promotional videos in various proportions mixed blood, entrails, shins, flames, bones, teeth, horns, rocks and grotesque creatures. Such a literal, Dantesque, religious vision of hell is seen as something very attractive for a suitable audience. It was enough to take care of the content and the appropriate dose of controversy adequate for the presented world. Today it is hard to resist the impression that the motive of censoring the game and telling about it in the media served only as additional, so needed, publicity, because Agony alone, unfortunately, has much less to show than was promised. The player is the soul that wakes up in front of the gate leading to hell. Who he is and what he got here for is not known yet. This we learn only during the game and you have to admit that the explanation of the puzzle turns out to be nothing. Understanding the story requires us to fill in the gaps in the knowledge of the Bible. Without this, the whole story looks like a conglomeration of quotes, visions and legends immersed in the coating of Christianity. At the very beginning, it turns out that the hero’s soul has a “gait” in the Red Goddess. The deity tempts him with a velvet voice and tells him to find, and on the way, also to sin a little, for the sake of her infernal majesty. So we are going deeper and deeper, more and more boldly, driven by genuine curiosity – what horror will appear around the corner? What crazy location project this time will be served by the creators? And will there be more to the game than just going back and forth? Unfortunately, the initial curiosity quickly changes into boredom and irritation.
Agony is an exploration game built on the core of the so-called walking simulators, but with additional activities. After hell, we move as a soul, and her natural body is a human body. So you have to jump from the sinner to the sinner, and after the inevitable death of the body quickly find a new host. If we do not make it, our soul will die and we will go back to the last point of the record. The idea borrowed from the Messiah game is good but lame. We do not have enough time to search for the victim and eventually we are often reliant on checkpoints and tediously repeating long fragments of the game. The second theme is solving simple puzzles based on special characters that open the passage. Every now and then some gate turns out to be closed with a missing piece – you have to look for the right symbol and draw it. The third thing is the trace elements of the fight, which are directly related to the previously mentioned opiling. And there is also “character development” – intentionally written in quotes. The soul points gained during play translate into improvement of barely three statistics (breath holding, quieter walking, greater resistance to attacks) and have absolutely no qualitative effect on play.
The rest is a bath. Running. Finding a huge number of finds, letters and secrets (giving access to bonus behind-the-scenes materials in the main menu). And again. Agony commits another sin here – for a game about walking and finding the right path, he does surprisingly much to make the process difficult. And I do not mean the degree of difficulty, this is rather low, only the poor readability of levels, the specially hidden passageways and the ubiquitous darkness, which we brighten with torches, or … by turning the gamma setting to the maximum. Even if you value atmosphere and gloom (and who would not appreciate it, voluntarily descending to digital hell), it is usually impossible to play without changing this setting. A very irritating solution.
Jumping the soul between the bodies quickly takes away the game from its terrible, horror climate. The beginning is impeccable. We feel overwhelmed, lost, and suggestive background noises can cause shivers. Like hiding in a maze before the first busty demonic. But when it turns out that every death is only a temporary impediment, because it is enough to possess one of many other unfortunates (important: after removing the sack from his head, because the soul gets into the body through the eye sockets), the fear passes immediately. In later stages, the game also allows you to oppress the demons. On the one hand, this is a nice diversion that gives you a momentary sense of strength. On the other hand – the motive can be irritating, because demons can only destroy and we will not use them for the key character drawing. Possession is also limited in time. When it ends, the easiest way to jump such a monster into the abyss to remove him from the board, regain his soul and calmly hold another man. Well, unless we misunderstand the space, people will not be around and we will have to load the last automatic record. It’s dark and scary. And frustratingly. The creators of Agony with great devotion approached the creation of the vision of hell, because the loss of the soul in the cavernous depths really translates into the loss of the player. Many of the challenges we face are unreadable. Tips on where to go (despite the presence of the magic line of destination, which indicates the right path), are very conventional, and sometimes simply do not exist, which is why we are wandering from corner to corner, looking for a place to conduct another interaction. And woe to all sinners if the game decides to break. A good 30 minutes took sequence in a bizarre, narcotic forest, at the end of which you had to open the transition with the help of the symbol. Repeatedly using all possible combinations, after looking at every corner of the map and a dozen or so deaths, I finally gave up. It was only when I browsed on the internet and restarted Agony, I discovered that I did everything right, only the game did not notice it. Thanks, game!
The above example is one of two serious ones that did not allow me to develop the plot. Another time, instead of the cut-scenes, there was darkness and here again the rescue from the game turned out to be. Of course, earlier I beat the checkpoint a few times, hoping for success (believe me, even the most beautiful piece of the map will get bored if you cross it for the fifth time in a row). I think I forgot that I am in hell and my efforts are doomed to failure. Agony also stumbles on other issues – the detection of a character’s collision and the environment is limping, which is most surprising in the case of a creature consisting only of hands. When such a delinquent enters a narrow column, sticks to it with the center, and with all the legs “comes” after nothingness – we should be afraid and we laugh. In addition, it happens that the texture will spoil or that our character will lock up on some insignificant protrusion under your feet. Nothing terrible, but these types of trivia change the journey through hell to farce.