Tagged "Agony"

Dec 21
By Matt Gander In Features No Comments

There was a time when we’d use Metacritic to compile our annual round-up of terrible games. As popular as these pieces were, in terms of page views at least, we’d always hit bumps along the way.

Scores varying between formats were the least of our problems. In most instances, we hadn’t experienced the games in question for ourselves. This, of course, made them tricky to talk about, forcing us to rely on second-hand opinions. We’re also pretty sure that Metacritic’s ‘worst list’ was almost entirely occupied by casual WiiWare and DSi games one year, reviewed by just a scant handful of critics. Hardly thrilling subject matter.

And so we no longer use Metacritic as a reference, choosing to talk about our own hands-on experiences instead. Some of the games below we received to review while others we picked up cheaply, knowing full well that they’re bad.

Spare us no sorrow. Bad games often have their own dubious pleasures. Amusing glitches, terrible voice acting, typos, poorly directed cut-scenes. Between the five games below, we’ve had the pleasure of experiencing all these ‘quirks’ first-hand.

Past Cure

The third stage of this psychological stealth shooter involves a PlayStation 2-quality shootout in a multi-storey car park. To paint a better picture: the controls are clunky, the shooting mechanics feel ham-fisted and sloppy, and the cover system can’t be relied on. It’s like something from a pre-Gears of War age. We had already experienced a game-breaking glitch that caused us to fall through the floor, so you can imagine our confusion after falling through an air vent into a weird seemingly unfinished area set inside a sewer.

The textures appeared unfinished and the lighting effects weren’t behaving themselves, obscuring half the room. It appeared there was a puzzle to solve that entailed shutting off the power to cross a walkway, but after ten minutes of head scratching – and one checkpoint reload for good measure – we took to Google to find a solution. Turns out we weren’t alone in being confused. A user on Steam also found themselves trapped in this room, and likewise wondered if they’d accidentally fallen into a scrapped area.

Turns out this was a brand-new puzzle the developers added after the game launched, as they felt it needed more abstract/psychological moments. That’s to say, they patched their already frustrating game with an additional broken, seemingly unfinished, and downright confusing area. Now that’s counterintuitive.

After finally figuring the puzzle out, we found ourselves in a boss battle of sorts which entailed running away from a colossal statue with glowing red eyes. As we frantically ran, not even stopping to look behind, we made it unscathed to the doorway ahead. Inside was an open manhole cover with a ladder leading down, so we took the plunge…and landed outside the level, able to roam around freely in a white open void. Thankfully, the game behaved itself on the second (third?) checkpoint reload and the manhole took us back to the multi-storey car park as it was supposed to.

We gave up playing on the next stage – an extremely unforgiving stealth section with no radar or other stealth game fundamentals, other than a stealth kill option and the ability to crouch.

As bad games go, Past Cure has slightly more going for it than most. The visuals are appealing in places, the voice acting is more than passable, and there’s a degree of variety between missions. But with glitches galore and fundamentally flawed mechanics, only the most determined will ever see it through to the end. For us, even the lure of some easy achievements wasn’t enough.

Extinction

We have an inkling Extinction was once destined to be an all-singing, all-dancing, big budget title with way more variety than the final product. But when budget publisher Modus jumped onboard for publishing duties a spanner was thrown into the works, prompting the developers to dial down their vision somewhat. Just a theory, we should note, but one that stands to reason.

Whatever happened during development, this shouldn’t have launched at full price. Amazingly, there was even a £64.99 deluxe edition with bonus DLC. We pity anybody who coughed up full whack on day one, especially at sixty-five quid, as there’s so little content and variety on offer that even at £24.99 Extinction would’ve come under scrutiny.

It’s a hack ‘n slasher that involves protecting citizens from generic goblin foes while a rampaging giant smashes through a whitewashed city. Defeating goblins charges a meter, which once full sets the nondescript protagonist’s sword ablaze. It’s then time to take down the giant, which entails targeting body parts via a slow-mo feature. Take out their legs and they’ll fall to the floor, allowing their back to be scaled before chopping off their head – something not quite as grisly as it sounds here. If the giant destroys too much of the city, or too many citizens die, then the mission is failed.

This isn’t Extinction’s first mission, you understand. It’s the entire game. This cycle repeats from start to finish. Sometimes you must take down multiple giants, which occasionally have padlocks(!) on their armour which must be destroyed first, and a few new goblin types are also introduced along the way but that’s it for variety.

Extinction is so repetitive and slim on ideas that after around an hour of play missions become auto-generated. It’s as if the developers gave up entirely. It’s also around this point that the Xbox achievements start flagging as rare, making it obvious that most gamers simply gave up too.

Did we mention the deluxe edition cost sixty-five flaming quid?

Agony

When reviews of Agony went live – roughly a week after launch, we should note – critics stood up, leaned out the nearest window and yelled “The name Agony is apt, because it’s pure agony to play.”

Or at least, gaming sites were rife with words to that effect. Agony may look and sound enticing going on screenshots and concept alone – being a savage, gore-filled, stomp through hell – but it’s an utter chore to play. The biggest issue, by far, is that the developers seemingly made it purposely disorientating. Corridors and paths often look alike, the pace is frustratingly slow, and it isn’t long until the ability to scale walls is introduced which makes navigating the levels all the more confusing.

Then, to top it all off, the focus changes from exploration to stealth early on, throwing you straight into the deep end while still adjusting to the wayward mechanics.

Just like Extinction, the Xbox One achievement ratios are telling signs of woefulness. Even such early accomplishments as finishing the second level flag as ‘rare’ (currently unlocked by less than 31% of players), and as of yet not a single gamer on True Achievements can boast of a 100% completion.

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May 30
By Matt Gander In This Week's Games No Comments

Like a nationalised railway service, the gaming industry was seemingly distributed by the bank holiday. Street Fighter 30th Anniversary Collection, SEGA Mega Drive Classics, Agony, and Yoku’s Island Express all launched at midnight on Tuesday, or thereabouts, but due to the long weekend reviews didn’t go live until later that morning.

In the case of Agony, it was as if the publisher had something to hide. This hellish survival game, set in genuinely disturbing environments coated with rotting flesh and other human remains, has spent almost two years in the development. It generated a minor buzz in the run-up to release, but sadly for those waiting in anticipation, it’s nothing short of disappointing.

“My excitement for the game was quickly quashed behind bugs, crashes and unbalanced gameplay, failing to live up to the potential of the game’s core ideas and outstanding visual design,” said TheSixthAxis’ reviewer, before handing out a poor 4/10.

User reviews echo this, with Xbox One owners mentioning audio issues that make it almost unplayable.

Review scores for the other games mentioned above are mostly positive so far. Yoku’s Island Express, a Metroidvania with pinball elements (think along the lines of Sonic Spinball) has been billed as one of the year’s biggest surprises. Speaking of Sonic Spinball, SEGA Mega Drive Classics isn’t quite the collection it could’ve been, but most critics claim it contains enough outright classics to warrant the entry fee. We’ll have our own review up shortly.

Street Fighter 30th Anniversary Collection is better still – a genuine celebration of all things Street Fighter, with online play and bonus features galore. And unlike Mega Drive Classics, it’s available on Switch too. Hurrah for that.

As for the week’s indie offerings, STAY on Xbox One entails helping a mild-mannered fellow escape from a rancid abode. It’s intriguing, but doesn’t quite reach its potential.

Moonlighter meanwhile has arrived to a waft of 9/10 reviews. It’s the roguelike to end all roguelikes, apparently. We’re also going give Mining Rail a shout out because, well, just look at it.

New release showcase:

Street Fighter 30th Anniversary Collection – PS4/XO/Switch

Reviews:
9/10 – Nintendo Life: “While some of the games included in this compendium are rendered somewhat superfluous by the fact that far superior sequels and updates exist alongside them, Street Fighter 30th Anniversary Collection remains an utterly essential purchase for any self-respecting fighting game fan”

9/10 – Destructoid: “Though SF30 doesn’t quite live up to its potential as a comprehensive historical document, ultimately, The Fight is all that matters. In that regard Capcom, some 30 years later, just scored another K.O. We await your return, warrior”

8/10 – Push Square: “Fans of the franchise will really appreciate having so many entries in a single place, and the wealth of customisation options, online modes, and extra content in the museum will go down a real storm”

SEGA Mega Drive Classics – PS4/XO

Reviews:
95% – Gaming Trend: “Sega Genesis Classics boasts an amazing collection of 50 games, all of which will keep you busy and entertained for hours. Some of the games can be challenging to a fault, but that’s just the way some old school games were made. The games hold true to their original forms and bring you a cartridge full of nostalgia that you can pop right into the console of your heart”

4/5 – Hardcore Gamer: “When comparing this to past Genesis collections, some of the omissions such as Ecco and the arcade versions are noticeable, but it makes up for their absence by adding more games that haven’t been included before”

6.0 – God is a Geek: “SEGA Mega Drive Classics is disappointing, but I’m still not sure if it’s because many of the games are boring, or if I was expecting more options and extras”

Yoku’s Island Express – PS4/XO/Switch

Reviews:
8.5 – GameInformer: “To think, Sonic Spinball was onto something all of those years ago. Yoku’s Island Express is delightful and fun from start to finish”

8.0 – God is a Geek: “From the charming opening movie to the wonderful title sequence, Yoku’s Island Express will use its adorable charms to pull you in and, unless you’re a heartless husk, you’ll fancy sticking around until the end credits too”

8.0 – IGN: “Yoku’s Island Express is a novel Metroidvania-pinball hybrid that stands as something wholly unique and incredibly fun”

Moonlighter – PS4/XO/Switch

Reviews:
9.0 – PlayStation Lifestyle: “Moonlighter is going to be a game you’ll pick up, play, and instantly want to tell your friends all about. It encourages discussion – how much a certain item costs, how to navigate the metagame of the increasingly tricky Resident Evil 4-style inventory system with its cursed items requiring a shuffle of your bag – and feels like, honestly, the endgame of all roguelikes”

4.5/5 – GamesRadar: “Moonlighter manages to perfectly balance the best bits of Stardew Valley, Dark Souls and Binding of Isaac for a game that just keeps you coming back for more”

7.9 – Video Chums: “It feels like a minimalist game but it also has enough to do to sink your teeth into for over ten hours”

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