Agony: My thoughts so far
When I say I am truly disappointed, I don’t mean “oh it had these problems but it was still great” “or I expected more but it enjoyed it none the less”. No when I say that I am disappointed I truly mean it, Agony congratulations on becoming the first game that I will be doing a “disappointed” review on. I love horror games, beside RPGs it just so happens to be one of my favourite genres, be it the intense atmosphere, the jump scares or obscene amounts of gore I usually love whatever it is I am experiencing. For me a horror game needs to grip you, pull you in as quickly as it can and Agony failed to do this so after several hours of gameplay I am ready to deliver my thoughts on the game thus far.
When it came to Agony, I was prepared for an intense and sometimes overwhelming atmosphere, I was preparing myself for a torturous journey through hell and all that comes with it. I believed I was in for a terrifying experience, an experience that was going to haunt me for some time, I thought I was going to be dreading what was around the next corner. If there is one thing that a horror game needs it is an atmosphere of some kind, in Outlast it was intense feeling of dread for I knew I had only three choices, to run, hide or simply die! Or lets look at the critically acclaimed Resident Evil 7, that game was thick with atmosphere and I constantly found myself asking what is going to happen next? I become so engrossed in these horrific ordeals that I struggled to put my controller down, I wanted to carry on, I truly wanted to survive, to overcome the odds. Did I feel the same way about Agony, to put it simply no, I did not.
I was in the depths of hell and yet I didn’t feel an overwhelming urge to survive, I didn’t feel like I was overcoming any odds. I didn’t feel any atmosphere after the first hour, Agony lacked a great deal of suspense for me. Oh no I am stuck in hell amongst demons, now to me that is not a scary pretence. I will give credit where credit is due and state that visually menacing to begin with, it is exactly as you would expect hell to be, everything is on fire, plenty of boney orifices around, it is a grotesque mess. The atmosphere was immense to begin with, the catacombs/ dungeons are filled with twists and turns making it easy to get lost, being able to hear the various inhabitants of hell scuttling around certainly put me on edge…for a time. But then it all became samey, the demons you encounter in these dungeons have set path, I feel the need to make a comparison to Alien Isolation here with the key difference being the intelligent AI the Alien has, there is no set path to victory in Isolation, that Alien came pop up anytime and anywhere. In Agony you can watch and learn the path these demons take, crouch and take things slow and the demons won’t notice you on account of their blindness. Should there have been a more comprehensive AI to these demons it would have made for a more terrifying experience.
I will say that having my neck snapped the first couple of times was quite disturbing, yet again though I found myself adjusting very quickly making my deaths more annoying than I ever imagined them to be! Agony’s respawn system is bizarre to say the least and I can safely say that I am not a fan of it at all. As you make your way through hell you will encounter these strange mirrors, after you interact with them you get three respawn chances. These chances give you the opportunity to look for a new host upon death, of course you could end up completely lost by doing this and find yourself dead again in no time. Should you run out of chances you will die immediately upon death with no opportunity to look for a new host to continue your way through maze like dungeon, you will be forced to restart the area all over again.
The demons can be intimidating to look at, the ones you encounter in the first couple of hours are of a humanoid nature, they can give you a fright in the first few encounters, they are always grotesque to look at so at least that’s something right? Stealth games are not my favourite to play anyway but Agony felt like I was truly having my patience tested. In Outlast I actually found myself wanting to be stealthy, believing I could be, Agony on the other I wanted to run for my destination an awful lot, I didn’t want to be stealthy.
Another huge problem I have is that gruesome content had to be cut out, this is a horror game it is meant to be gut wrenching, honestly there is no need for people to be so sensitive about this. It has the age rating and that should be enough, of course if you are a PC player you still have access to the cut content and for that I am quite jealous, perhaps the PS4 was not the way to go.
I will finish Agony, if for no other reason than I have never not finished a horror game that I started. Who knows maybe things will pick up, perhaps it will grip me a bit further in. all I can say is that I hope all the inconvenient deaths due to a poor respawn system become worth it as the game goes on!