I’m not normally the type to ponder the great tortures that await people at the end of the unending abyss in the darker forms of the afterlife. At the same time, I’m keenly aware of the fact that if it does actually exist, it’s unlikely to match any representation we’ve seen in video games. Agony, by Polish team Madmind Studio, is no exception to that, but it’s certainly a large leap in the right direction. Currently seeking funds on Kickstarter, this is a survival horror game (survival being a relative term, given you’re already in hell) that offers a layer of disturbing unease that is rarely seen.

More often than not the idea of hell in video games usually involves an overabundance of fire, dull stone walls which may or may not contain skeletons, and a host of demons and ghouls that can be dispatched with big explodey weaponry. Not so much here. Rather than let players conquer their fears of the beasts within the infinite void by blasting them or pressing Hell’s self-destruct button, players must move stealthily. After all, they only control one of the pathetic thralls as they slowly creep about a world in which almost anything they can see can rend their bodies apart.

What’s truly impressive in Agony thus far is the level of effort that has gone into crafting the magnificently haunting environment. Gameplay videos show multiple area full of one visually horrifying idea after another. In one, it seems like the walls are alive – they pulse and appear to breath according to some monstrous heartbeat. In another, damned creatures are strung up on display, gasping and wailing for help, or for death. There are also points of beauty to be found, such as the softly glowing magical points that also tingle with delightfully soft bells.

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Throughout it all, the darkness makes every step a risk of finding out just what lurks in the shadows. Lit torches can provide some comfort by showing off what’s in the immediate area, but there’s a risk. Hell’s demons seem to be attracted to certain things, be it heat, light, or sound. Carrying the torch might be just what draws the residents to you, but it can also be tossed to provide a valuable distraction while you cower in the corner.

As beautiful as the game looks, it doesn’t mean that everything else has been brought to a fine polish. There are some mechanical issues that aren’t fully covered, like how some of the puzzling works. or if there’s a point to collecting the golden statues that seem to be scattered throughout the underworld. When players die, it sometimes seems that they enter a spirit mode in which they can simply inhabit another body to keep the journey going, and possessing even the demons seems to be an aspect of the game, so I’m curious about how this affects the game’s difficulty. But I like what I see thus far, and there’s even the chance this horrific nightmare could come out to VR units. One can only hope.

Quick & Easy Details

Title: Agony

Kickstarter Goal: $66,666 CAD (~$50,000 USD)

Developer: Madmind Studio

Home Page: http://agonygame.com/

Twitter: @AgonyGame

Planned Platforms: PC, PS4, Xbox One

Planned Release Date: May 2017

If you’re interested in Agony, be sure to head over to their Kickstarter and pledge your support!

 

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