PREVIEW – Because of the publisher, I was somewhat afraid of this project that required a small, almost minuscule budget of crowdfunding (way less than one million dollars) – PlayWay isn’t a company you’d find on a ton of high-quality titles.
In Hungary, this company was present as PlayPaper, selling cheap budget games at newsstands on a CD or a DVD for ridiculously low prices, making it a part of a subculture on the internet. Thankfully, Agony is completely different, and I could describe it as a walk through Hell, somewhat reminding me of 1988’s Gryzor (or Contra) on the Famicom/NES – the 8-bit sidescrolling shooter’s last level looks similar to Madmind‘s game’s visuals. It looks memorable in my opinion, and that’s a good start.
The game is in the first-person survival horror genre. No, it is far from the things you have seen in Resident Evil 7. You start out your adventure a tormented soul and your aim will be to get out of Hell. Nope, you’re not going to get a pistol and just shot every demon in your way – Nah, if that were the case, the preview wouldn’t even exist on the site.
The reason why we decided to make this article is that you start off by taking over control of a body at the start, and without that, your adventures wouldn’t even begin. Initially, the visuals shocked me, but not in a negative way. They were abnormal, yet keeping in touch with the genre, although the graphics on maximum settings made Agony so full of colors as I was playing Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon or Hotline: Miami.
There’s a bit of stealth during the stealth level, which was interrupted in a funny way with me trying to interact with some NPCs – Agony has no dialogues yet, so all my efforts were pointless. But back to stealth, you can hold your breath back to avoid getting caught. You’ll need to use this move, or that demon, which you could push down, can knock you out, which would be followed by looking for another body for yourself. I think I saw something similar in Clive Barker’s Jericho a decade ago. (Didn’t it have mind control of weaker characters as well…?)
There will be some blue, purple pathways where you can defy gravity to progress; then you’ll find a place where I was so dumb that I almost burned myself to death. (Nope, you don’t have to go through the fire. That’s all I say.) After regenerating somewhat, I analyzed the symbols on the wall – you can only memorize one of them each time! – Then I saw that one of them requires drawing. Knowing how my hands are less useful than a brick, I somehow managed to open the door, where I was met by some torch play (no spoiling), and a few quite sick scenes as well.
Agony seems to be a promising title, and due to the usage of Unreal Engine 4, porting it to consoles will not be much of a hassle. However, I lacked the plot from the demo, and without it, the final version could become boring in no time, as stealth, drawing, and torching won’t be interesting without a story. The visuals look okay, but the audio is yet another massive question mark at the moment – I couldn’t hear a lot of it in the demo.
Agony‘s success will depend on the quality of the background story and the way it is developed. The gameplay is somewhat held back, but it’s not an AAA title anyway, and even though some of the Madmind members worked on games such as The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt, this game isn’t meant to be a Resident Evil-killer.
It’s scary, but I didn’t see the end of the tunnel yet.
These might make it a success:
+ Hell itself
+ The demons look cool, frankly
+ It doesn’t want to be an average game
These might make it a disappointment:
– The gameplay could get boring fast without a well-written story…
– …and dialogues
– I think I saw a few pieces of the gameplay in other games…
Developer: Madmind Studio
Genre: Survival horror
Relase date: Q2, 2017