Madmind Studios want to take you to hell in their upcoming title, Agony, which very well may be one of 2016-2017’s more unique horror titles. We’ve explored deep sea facilities, space stations and plenty of haunted houses, but Agony’s unique art style and setting easily sets the game apart from the rest.
I recently spoke with Tomasz Dutkiewicz, President of Madmind Studios, to learn more about the upcoming survival horror title. You’ll find a link at the bottom of the article to the most recent gameplay video for Agony which surfaced at Gamescom. Enjoy the interview and let us know what you think of Agony in the comments section.
ONLYSP: To start off this interview, can you tell me a little bit about the team at Madmind Studios and how the development of AGONY came about?
Tomasz Dutkiewicz: Madmind Studio is small team full of friends who worked together before in the production of many popular games. Over time, each of us went the other way, gaining experience in different generes. Agony managed to bring us all back and work together again in our new studio, Madmind. I am proud of this production and my team who believe in this project. We are working hard to make “Agony” the best possible game.
ONLYSP: You ran a Kickstarter for the game last year and cancelled it pretty quickly. What kind of changes have you made to the game since that Kickstarter campaign, and what did you learn from the experience?
Dutkiewicz: Assumptions of the project did not change. However, with the foundation of the company, we decided to start the production process from the beginning. Players noticed some imperfections, which we took into account when designing the gameplay from the beginning.
ONLYSP: What kind of games have had inspiration on Agony? Any recent horror titles like Alien: Isolation, Outlast or P.T.?
Dutkiewicz: Those titles definitely show that horror from first person perspective works perfectly. We would like to get a similar core gameplay in Agony. However, it is mainly games like Silent Hill and Siren that are at the top of the list of my favorite horror games.
ONLYSP: Can you tell me a little bit about the overarching narrative in Agony?
Dutkiewicz: Players will play as a historical figure who does not remember anything but pain and a unclear image of a mysterious Goddess. During the game, the hero is going to try gather information about himself and his past by talking with martyrs and exploring hostile environments. The protagonist will quickly realize that only the Goddess can help him recover memories and get out of this unpleasant land.
ONLYSP: Is the story a pretty clear-cut narrative or will it ask players to make their own interpretations of what’s going on? Are there multiple endings?
Dutkiewicz: It is up to the players how much they decide to explore the game world and learn the story.
The main path of the story is going to give you answers to the most important questions, but to know more about the protagonist and this demonic dimension, players will have to spend a little more time in the darkness.
However, we won’t give players all the answers, and many times leave them the opportunity to come up with their own interpretation.
Multiple endings sounds great. We are still developing the game, so who knows?
ONLYSP: Agony is a first person survival horror game and, by the looks of it, it seems to be quite a bit different from your typical survival horror game. Can you go into some detail about how the game plays out?
Dutkiewicz: For the greater part of the game, players are going to stay in the body of the martyr, and this will force them to be prudent with every step they make by trying to avoid the sight of opponents.
With time, however, the soul of the hero develops enough to be able to control some of the beasts.
This will allow players to get in previously inaccessible places and offers the opportunity to choose what sort of body to use to overcome the danger. Each character class has its advantages and disadvantages, so the selection of a suitable host may be crucial at times.
ONLYSP: Is the world of Agony a primarily linear experience or are the more open environments for players to explore?
Dutkiewicz: We are trying to design levels to be partially open and allow players to explore them, if they decided to do it. The main path of the story will be clearly defined, but it is up to the player if he decides to take the risk and try to find the secrets in the alternative paths full of dangers and demons.
Some parts of the levels remain locked until the protagonist finds the proper equipment, which will allow him to get to the seemingly inaccessible places.
ONLYSP: Is there combat in Agony or is it more in-line with a lot of recent survival horror games where the player needs to hide and use stealth to avoid enemies?
Dutkiewicz: Gameplay varies slightly depending on the character class players will choose to control.
Martyr, for example, remains the weakest host, being very vulnerable to attack, while controlling demons gives players opportunity for more aggressive behavior and rewards them for such an approach.
ONLYSP: What kind of interactions will players have with other NPCs in the world of Agony?
Dutkiewicz: Players will be able to try to establish a dialogue with every person they meet on their journey.
However, not everyone will want to talk to you. For example, writhing in convulsions, Martyr will not be equally eager to talk as much to a madman who is babbling something under the statue of Red Goddess.
ONLYSP: How big of a game are you developing with Agony? How many hours of gameplay do you expect the final game will have?
Dutkiewicz: Agony is still in the process of production, and we are still improving many gameplay aspects.
It’s hard to say at this moment how many hours of gameplay Agony will offer to players, but the transition time will highly depend on whether players decide to go deeper into the story, or simply go through hell and getting to know only the main storyline.
ONLYSP: The art design in Agony is incredibly striking and unique. How challenging has it been to develop that style and make it work in the context of the game?
Dutkiewicz: Thanks! It’s hard to come up with something original nowadays.
Many artists draw inspiration from the most popular works of art, trying to recreate their success, slightly changing the design. In the case of Agony, this task is particularly demanding. Every person who plays our game has a different imagination of hell. People are well aware of the classic image of hell full of horned demons, lake of fire, and tears of thousands of suffering people.
Players expect something unusual and original; they want to be surprised. If Agony was based only on well-known concepts, we would not be able to meet those huge demands.
Therefore, with the publication of the first materials of Agony, I decided to give players something they’ve never seen before. To induce anxiety, fear and shivers on your back, you can not rely only on well-known images, but you must reach deep into your own mind and get rid of the limitations, drawing inspiration from there. This is the only way to reach deep-seated fear of death and suffering, and Agony will draw inspiration mainly from this place.
ONLYSP: Are you planning on bringing Agony to Early Access or doing another Kickstarter campaign for the game?
Dutkiewicz: At the moment we are not planning an additional fundraiser. If, however, with the progress of the game we decide to expand it even more, it is possible that additional features will force us to ask players for financial support.
ONLYSP: When do you expect Agony to release on PC and consoles?
Dutkiewicz: We will announce the release date soon.
ONLYSP: Thanks for taking the time to speak with us about Agony. Is there anything else you’d like to let our readers know about the game?
Dutkiewicz: Thanks for the interview. We cannot wait to show fans how Agony looks and plays now!