Game development can be hell, and we mean literally
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”