Agony Review: Abandon all hope (of this being playable)

Agony has piqued the interest of many gamers, an R18+ classified title here in Australia that is making waves over themes involving “gore, brutal sex scenes, lesbian and gay sex scenes, genital physics, heart plucking, children heads exploding” and much, much more.

I wasn’t really keen to play the game for any of those things, instead firing the game up to see how gays and lesbians actually fit into it. After all, you begin Agony newly dropped into hell, looking for a vagina-headed entity known as the Red Goddess and tasked with escaping the underworld. I didn’t imagine I’d be happy with the inclusion.

In the end, Agony disappointed me in every way possible. I’m going for the low-hanging fruit here, boys and girls. Agony is indeed that: agony. Unashamed, poorly-tested fetish porn wrapped up in a suffocating dark cloak.

The game’s opening cinematic is perhaps its only saving grace, a polished, dramatic and atmospheric presentation that actually had me excited to play. Immediately afterward though, Agony’s true nature shone through. I was dropped into hell, presented with its various shades of red upon red, scratching my head trying to figure out just what to do.

For the most part, you’re going to be walking around, gathering items like hearts, statues and torches. To do this, you’ll have to avoid demonic enemies that will one-hit kill you. Blood-curdling screams and crazy, hooded, tortured souls litter the non-linear path ahead of you. After five to ten minutes, you’ve been assaulted by so many variations on those visual and aural themes that you’re incredibly desensitised and uncaring.

Agony does not hold your hand, amping up the survival side of ‘survival horror’. Those one-hit kills come when you least expect it… or as far as I could tell, as in-game stealth mechanics are so flimsy you’re basically walking around hoping you’re doing a good job. When you die, you’re able to find another body to shove your soul into, provided you can do it in a short period of time.

Possessing demons gives you a little more security, but more often than not, you’ll find other tortured humans to take over. To actually do this, you’ll have needed to have found the human before your death, removing a hood that shrouds their eyes. You’ve most likely not done that, so back to a previous checkpoint you go.

Moreover, the game is so dark that to make your way through various, bloody mazes, you’ll need to bump up brightness to the max. Now able to actually see where you’re going, the visuals are comical, removing any trace of fear or horror you may be feeling. The screenshots in this review are not representative of what to expect from the game… though I’ve already been reported on Xbox Live for trying to capture my own (no joke!).

In reality, poorly developed mechanics are your enemies in Agony, not the demons you’re supposed to be afraid of. You’ll find yourself stuck in geometry, essentially begging a demon to come and end you so you can continue on playing.

Oh, and by the way, the gay sex stuff? I didn’t even pick up on any of it – after constantly seeing babies hanging from the ceiling or demons having weird orgies, I wasn’t in the mood to check and see if they had the same sex organs. Maybe I was too busy shaking my head at in-game subtitles that didn’t even come close to accurately capturing what characters were actually saying. Well, that or any number of other, unpolished elements that define the game.

Give Agony a hard miss. It looks awful, controls horrendously and definitely can’t get by on shock value. There’s nothing to see here.


1.5 out of 10

The good

  • An intriguing premise.
  • A fantastic opening cinematic.

The bad

  • Everything else — red, muddied, dark visuals.
  • Subtitles are astronomically incorrect.
  • So much gore and themes added for shock value that you’re instantly desensitised.
  • Buggy, unpolished and gross.


Agony was reviewed on Xbox One, using a copy purchased by reviewer. Said reviewer is hoping he can get a refund. Click here to learn more about Stevivor’s scoring scale.

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About the author

Steve Wright

Steve's the owner of this very site and an active games journalist for the past ten years. He's a Canadian-Australian gay gaming geek, ice hockey player and fan. Husband to Matt and cat dad to Wally and Quinn.