Also on: PC, PS4, Xbox One
Publisher: Forever Entertainment
Developer: Madmind Studio / Megapixel Studio
If you?re aware of Agony at all, it?s for being one of the worst games of this generation. While I never played it when it first came out on Xbox or PS4, I was nonetheless intrigued by the fact that its developers were claiming that legal issues and a rogue member of their team had prevented them from achieving their true vision for the game. They?ve released an unrated version of Agony in all its gory glory on PC, and they?ve also taken the time to port some version of the game over to the Switch.
I?m not sure if Switch owners are getting the original version of their game or the reimagined one; the pre-release press has been a little cagey about that. Nonetheless, I feel confident in saying that, whichever version is now on the Switch, it?s every bit as horrible as it was when it came out on PS4 and Xbox.
Some of this comes down to performance. The game stutters constantly; it?s occasionally hard to take more than two steps without it pausing for a moment while it thinks about what it wants to do next. Similarly, it?s not at all uncommon to see screen-tearing. While this may occasionally enhance the macabre feeling Agony?s developers were going for, more often than not it just serves to underline how shoddily the game was made.
And it?s not like Agony is any better even when everything works properly. For starters, the game is super dark — and I mean that literally, as in it?s frequently difficult to see anything. You can try to remedy this by turning the brightness all the way up, but that only fixes the darkness problem in some places; in others, it?s still impenetrable no matter what you do. Things are so bad that it wasn?t uncommon for my character to die for no apparent reason; I may have fallen off a cliff or walked into a buzzsaw or suffered countless other ignoble fates, but because it happened in total darkness I honestly have no idea what happened half the time.
What?s more, when you can see your surroundings, it?s hardly an improvement. Everything you can see here looks rough and unfinished, giving you a good idea of how Hieronymus Bosch?s works would have looked if he had no talent whatsoever. In the game?s defense, it has a scary-looking opening cutscene. Even that, however, is mitigated by every moment after that, where it feels like just about the only parts of your environment given any kind of loving care are the many, many penises and breasts attached the the damned and tortured humans.
Agony?s approach to saves is equally infuriating. Save spots are few and far between, and the default setting is for those saves to self-destruct after three uses. Given that Agony is fairly challenging and tries to kill you as often as possible, you can see why this makes for an odd design choice.
Even moving your character around is a constant challenge. You move as if you?re stuck in molasses, inching through blood and guts at a snail?s pace. On top of that, your height seems to vary from moment to moment — even if you aren?t crouching, sometimes you only seem to be a foot or two off the ground, while others you?re sized more like a normal human.
With all these issues and problems, the question of whether Agony is any good — or even tolerable — to play almost seems secondary. It effectively becomes a question of, ?Notwithstanding the horrible performance and the non-stop darkness and the bizarre save system and the terrible graphics and the unending challenge of simply moving, is the gameplay enough to make Agony even slightly redeemable?”
Considering everything else here is so bad, it shouldn?t be any surprise that the answer to that question is a resounding ?Good lord, no!” We?re talking about a survival horror game where you wander around a maze in the darkness, occasionally fleeing demons, solving environmental puzzles, and possessing the bodies of other creatures. Unfortunately for you, the demons are overpowered (and sometimes come out of nowhere, hidden by the darkness), the puzzles are poorly-designed, and the possession has random rules and is left up to you to figure out.
In other words, the gameplay is as bad as everything else about Agony. It?s not often you see a game that fails in almost literally every aspect imaginable, but that?s exactly what you get here.
Forever Entertainment provided us with an Agony Switch code for review purposes.