If you were following Madmind Studios along with me then you know that the original launch of Agony didn’t go over well. With a negative review from myself and a surprising downfall following shortly after the games launch, it was looking grim for the indie developer studio. Then they decided to stop fighting the ratings and released the version of Agony that everybody was expecting originally and called it Unrated. This is fortunately a much better version of the game and a possible revival of the series. I can see why they would have moved on to continuing the series with the Succubus announcement, but let’s hope that they learn from the actions of Agony on their next game.
Moving forward, let’s get into a breakdown of my thoughts after playing through Agony Unrated. Note that this will NOT be a comparison review article, but rather a review based on Agony Unrated as a stand alone game.
There was no change in this aspect. You are a soul that has been sent to hell. While the reason is unknown, you are sure of one thing: you need to escape! It isn't long before you find the Red Queen who encourages and assists your escape. Maintaining a tunnel vision focus, you accept any help you can get and do whatever you have to as long as you can find a way out of hell; or at least find where you best belong while you are here.
You start the game out by possessing a regular body at, what can only be presumed as, the entrance to Hell. With no real fighting capability, your only skills are moving, jumping, and the players ability to problem solve. From here you will have to head inside to find your first cryptic task of many that will lead you through the confusing path ahead.
Doing whatever you have to do, including ripping out hearts and burning others, to get further in your progression toward your ultimate goal, you will find that your actions will need to be as cold as the demons themselves. As you continue to do this, you will find yourself facing dangerous demons and mad people that you will need to handle appropriately. No two enemies are alike.
As shown in the very beginning of the game, you are a soul that is able to possess others. This is a key element to keep moving forward in certain points of the game that have a purple haze flowing in a specific spot. If you die, you will be given a short amount of time to possess another body. In order to do so, you will have to remove the sheet covering the various mad people’s heads. Some will attack you while others will not, so beware. Another thing to worry about while your soul is outside of a body is the soul eaters. They float around in certain areas (especially when you try to go out of bounds while flying around) and can quickly grab you which is instant death.
The puzzles and path will continue to get harder and sometimes be proven to be false. This will either just be a pure mind melter or something that you will have to fix by finding a portrait to examine. These portraits can be anywhere and are crucial to your progress, so stay on the lookout and don’t be afraid to venture down all paths.
Once you get your strength up you can start possess actual demons which will then give you the ability to fight back and break walls. They are harder to control so you will only get a limited amount of time, but they can just be re-possessed if needed. This is the part I found to be a bit more fun, but it is a lot harder to see as their vision is slightly blurry. This is also a mandatory part of the game in some cases, so be ready to play multiple roles throughout hell.
The main thing that reoccurs throughout the entire game is finding yourself facing the path and wondering, “is this really what I am supposed to do?” The hesitation and uncertainty is definitely a part of being in hell and is a nice touch that brings the gameplay into the environment rather than being within the environment.
Finally presenting the world as we originally expected it from original trailers and screenshots. The environment itself actually had me feeling worried with how gory and grotesque it was. Including more moments of confusion, mind melting visual tricks, visually torturous surroundings, and just all-around cringe fest. It was the ooey-gooey, blood dripping, random limbs, bone surrounding environment that really places you in the world of hell.
Comparison Note: Unlike the the Unrated version, the original version just had a sort of “safe environment” version of what hell would be. Instead of gooey, bloody walls there was just a pink, fleshy look to things. I don’t recall random limbs in places and a lot of the visuals that are in Unrated were cut.
As far as sound effects, everything was so well matched. Demons all had their own noises, you could hear things crawling around but could never spot them, your footsteps matched whether the floor was bloody, stone, or bone. Everything in the environment just matched well and there was little to no music that pulled away from the eerie silence that lurked the small noises of danger.
There are the multiple endings that you can go back through and try to unlock. Other than that, the only reason I can see myself going back is to try it on the harder difficulty and the brutal mode of Succubus. The original story itself doesn’t offer much else though as it is the same puzzles and path, for the most part.
What Could Be Better
The instructions when having the tutorial on could have told you information a little bit sooner. The part where you first go into the Succubus lair is the most troubling part I can think of as I didn’t know what to do for awhile before I realized I had to parkour over the logs with a torch and then it tells you that you can throw the torch. Knowing that throwing the torch was possible at a sooner time than that would have been helpful.
The guiding system only takes you to the main objective, but doesn’t actually help you with any of the puzzles. If you are going to have a guiding system, it should help you through each part of the game to help the player get through parts they don’t understand easier. While this could end up getting abused by some players, there are those like myself who try to use it as a last resort. But even as a last resort it proved to be useless in most cases.
Agony Unrated was really like taking a horrible journey through hell itself. It was the experience I was hoping for when I first played Agony and was delighted to actually get the experience this time around. It is a truly enjoyable puzzle horror game that is worth going through, given that you can handle the surroundings and scenery. The environment is spot on and actually drives the game overall.
Agony Unrated was reviewed on PC by courtesy of Madmind Studios whom provided a Steam key for the game.