Game de­vel­op­ment can be hell, and we mean lit­er­ally

XBox: The Official Magazine (US) - - START - James Nouch Pub­lisheR PlayWay De­vel­oper Mad­mind Stu­dio For­mat Xbox One ETA July 2017

Roar­ing flames, the nau­se­at­ing stench of sul­phur, and hun­dreds of damned souls wail­ing in tor­ment and ter­ror—yes, the OXM cafe­te­ria is truly a sight to be­hold. But if your reg­u­lar lunch spot isn’t a chthonic pit of suf­fer­ing, you may well want to keep an eye on Mad­mind Stu­dio’s in­fer­nal de­but, which casts you as a des­per­ate lost soul trapped in the dark­est depths of the un­der­world.

And while it’s clear that the Pol­ish de­vel­oper has drawn on tra­di­tional de­pic­tions of hell to cre­ate its abode of the damned, Agony goes so much fur­ther than simply recre­at­ing lakes of fire and cloven-footed mea­nies in crisp HD. Its vi­sion of hell is a place of blood and flame, yes, but there’s an un­nerv­ing cur­rent of mon­strous sex­u­al­ity at play, too, as well as some truly nasty vi­o­lence to boot. Again, much like the OXM can­teen.

The game opens with you wak­ing up in the nether­world with no rec­ol­lec­tion of the sin­ful life that’s led you to this damnable des­ti­na­tion. Charred bones lit­ter the floor around you and the air pul­sates with the buzzing of bloated flies. You soon learn that there is only one hope for those who seek a re­prieve from this eter­nal tor­ment. To leave this place, you’ll have to gain an au­di­ence with The Red God­dess.

Hell of a mess

But track­ing down this enig­matic de­ity will be no easy feat, as you’ll have to tra­verse vast in­fer­nal en­vi­ron­ments in pur­suit of your un­cer­tain es­cape.

Out­last is the game that most read­ily springs to mind as we watch our player char­ac­ter ner­vously tip­toe through the dis­con­cert­ingly fleshy halls of hell, par­tic­u­larly when the poor fel­low is forced to hide from some wrath­ful de­mon or roar­ing grotes­query. But this fear­ful dy­namic can be in­verted en­tirely, thanks to your abil­ity to take con­trol of cer­tain fee­ble-minded denizens of hell.

The rea­son for this power re­mains a mys­tery for now, but it en­ables you to pos­sess dim-wit­ted demons and make use of their fe­ro­cious strength and di­a­bol­i­cal abil­i­ties. At one point, our fallen hero hops into the body of a sinewy hell­beast and em­barks on a bru­tal ram­page, set­ting damned pris­on­ers alight on a whim be­fore us­ing de­monic telekine­sis to hurl them into the abyss.

But if the prom­ise of us­ing some of these wretched souls as tiki torches doesn’t float your Sty­gian boat, then don’t fret: You’re also able to charge the tor­mented down and pluck out an eye, should the urge take you. A trip to hell would turn any­one a lit­tle vi­o­lent and some­what nutty, af­ter all.

To some, this will all sound a bit ex­ces­sive and un­pleas­ant, but that’s ex­actly the tenor that Agony’s aim­ing for—a hellish ex­pe­ri­ence that doesn’t pull any punches. Now if you’ll ex­cuse us, it’s about time we headed down­stairs to the can­teen.

“Charred bones lit­ter the floor and bloated flies buzz through the air”

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