Anybody familiar with the seminal work of Psygnosis on the Amiga i.e. Shadow of the Beast will know exactly what the company is capable of. Agony has a very similar graphical style to SOTB although this time we are treated to a very Psygnosis take on the side scrolling shmup genre. In this instance there are no spaceships, instead you play the part of an owl (yes the bird type of owl) and as the screen scrolls from right to left the mythical creatures appear to try to stop your progress. You of course have a weapon, and fire some kind of killer projectile from your beak at the various demons, and other animals coming at you.

Agony isn’t the fastest moving game you will ever play, but that doesn’t make it easy, with loads of large sprites coming from all directions and spitting their version of death at you there is plenty of action going on all taking place over the top of a very colourful and sinister landscape. As is to be expected in a shoot em up, there are also power ups to be collected while trying to dodge bullets, spiders, skulls and the various other nasties, meaning you have to occasionally swoop down to pick up a potion or scroll between the killing beasties. All the while the landscape scrolls in layers behind making for a pseudo 3 dimensional look to the well detailed trees, shipwrecks and otherwordly scenery that you probably won’t have time to appreciate.

Screenshot taken from Agony by Psygnosis for Amiga While you are busy shooting, dodging and collecting power ups and admiring the beautifully scrolling 3 layers of scenery your ears are getting similar treatment with some hauntingly beautiful tunes playing for your aural delight. As I play all games so badly I doubt I will get to hear very many of those tunes but apparently there are up to 17 of them to savour on your way through the levels and bosses to reach the end of the game.

Agony is overall a fantastic looking, great sounding game with a bit of a challenge for the average player like me, offering an escape from the usual space based side scrollers and doing it with a unique style which at one time was Psygnosis’ signature look. This one is well worth a search for if you like a shooter but maybe with a slower pace than most.