Feels like it has been a while since a game was in the news for clashing with the ratings board. Outlast 2 is the last example I can remember where the threat of the dreaded Adults Only (AO) would be handed down to a title, preventing it from releasing on consoles. Well, the Kickstarter funded twisted Hell journey Agony has been leaning into its promise to be the most disturbing game of all time, and the ESRB agreed. Last week, Agony's developer informed Kickstarter backers that, in order to get an M rating approved, the game has been censored/altered on all platforms. But PC owners will get access to the uncut material via a patch. This is all, uh, tricky to say the least.
Agony is a first person game in which the player controls a Martyr condemned to Hell. The player possesses the unique ability to possess other Martyrs and, later in the game, lesser and higher demons, giving them access to special abilities. There's a mix of brutal violence in attacking creatures and brutal violence in hiding from creatures and probably brutal violence in pause menus as well. Agony is reallllll into brutal violence. I am intrigued to see if it is in service of storytelling, because I don't have it in me to write any further about violence for violence's sake.
The Kickstarter update reassures backers that none of the promotional material released to this point features anything that has been removed from the game. In fact, very little has been removed, as Madmind Studio worked with the ratings board to redo camera angles and framing in order to keep the frightening imagery intact. While the altered version of the game will be released on all platforms, only the PC version can implement a patch which reverts the game to its non-edited state, so Kickstarter backers that wish to switch their pre-order from console editions to PC will be accommodated.
Here's the launch trailer, which was just released:
So. Again. The game has been altered to meet the requirements of the ratings board, but the ratings board knows that a patch is incoming to remove their requirements? All of this makes sense and seems worth the time.
Agony will be coming to PC, Playstation 4, and Xbox One on May 29th.
Here is 12 minutes of gameplay footage from last year: