"Agartha" was for me one of the most important canceled games of the dreamcast. Its cancellation left all of us unsatisfied. Being able to get my hands on a beta version remains one of my greatest discoveries.
I still remember the first time I launched the game and said " I'm one of the privileged few who can play it" . This feeling of playing unreleased and being one of the only ones in the world who can do it is a unique experience, a mixture of ecstasy and pride.
We are bringing our stone to the edifice of machine history by silencing more than 20 years of rumors. In the case of Agartha , we were at one point talking about a game that was complete, and then about a game whose development had not started. I've read a lot about him.
In 2011, a video was leaked on the internet. It had not taken more to relaunch all the hypotheses about him.
Video of the 2001 demo in high definition. I spent 7 hours at the upscaler. You can also download it here (open the "Dummy" file with the VLC player).
A little history
The game takes place in a village lost in the snow-capped mountains of Romania between the wars. An earthquake triggers the opening of Agartha , an underground gateway between Earth and an infernal dimension. Residents begin to vomit blue liquid before losing a human figure. When the dead emerge from their graves, Kirk , a white-bearded paranormal specialist, goes there to investigate.
Reinventing Survival horror
Although Kirk is heading in classic third person view, Agartha offers several new features compared to the Resident Evil that precede him: the game is fully 3D. Kirk has a backpack, which means the player can manage their inventory as they see fit. In the bag, we find a pistol and its magazine, binoculars, a camera, a book, a pencil, a passport, a key, an oil lamp and a flashlight. Kirk must monitor his Life gauge and Vril, which remains a mystery at this point. It is assumed to be a gauge of magic, with Vril denoting a form of mystical energy that lies at the center of the Earth.
As developer Didier Quentin explains:
"Our goal was to make Agartha THE Survival horror of the Dreamcast." Getting past Capcom's masterpiece Resident Evil: Code Veronica and competing against Alone in the Dark: The New Nightmare by Infogrames (former employer of F. Raynal) presented stimulating challenges ”.
Torture and fear on Dreamcast
The player can decide to save as many innocent people as possible (and gain “Good” points), or on the contrary, to commit a butchery to accelerate the arrival of chaos on Earth (and gain “Evil” points). Moral choices influence the nature of enemies (undead, cult fanatics, and demons for the evil side / monk-soldiers, priests and archangels for the good side), and at least two different endings are planned.
Agartha hit hard according to Didier Quentin :
“At the last stage we got to, it was a game with a lot of freedom. Agartha would have been the first Survival horror where the player could have chosen sides: Good or Evil. For example, we had imagined leaving the possibility to the player to deliver a prisoner or to torture him. This then marked his psychology and made him enter a particular axis of the adventure ”.
Fear was the central element of Agartha, but F. Raynal also sought to arouse real unease in the player:
"Rather than detonating zombies in a chain, I would like the player to be scared to death understanding what to do, to say to himself just before the required action: 'no, that's too much. , I stop playing because I don't want to do that ””.
To get straight to the heart of the matter, what about the future of the Agartha project?
“To be clear, the Agartha project is definitely abandoned. We were in agreement with Sega to carry out our game and the recent announcement of the abandonment of the production of Dreamcast resulted in a breach of contract, leaving us with no other choice but to stop the development of Agartha ”.
Censorship and freedom of expression
If on a technical level, Agartha benefited from the support of SEGA, it was not the same concerning the highly controversial content. F. Raynal had met with refusals, and had come out bruised, but also determined not to compromise with the censorship:
“We encountered big censorship problems. We were clearly made to understand that there were limits to be respected in the world of video games and that we should not exceed them under penalty of suffering the wrath of censorship.
Our concept and our initial idea being precisely to go beyond the limits of political correctness to completely immerse the player in a dark and worrying universe: there was no question for us to comply with these demands […]. I realized that it was not possible to go beyond the tacit conventions imposed by the video game industry. Even in this new art where we still believe everything possible, there is an implicit censorship that restricts the imagination of developers and game designers. I think that's what affected me the most ”.
Scheduled for October 2001, Agartha will never be released since SEGA announces the shutdown of production of the console in March 2001. F. Raynal will not try to adapt it elsewhere:
“ Agartha will never be released on another platform, because the main idea - which was to be able to do good or bad deeds - is no longer original”.
Two versions exist?
There are 2 builds of the game. The first is a technical demo. The second one that doesn't work properly seems to have been used to create the leaked video in 2011.
A hidden menu debug is present for the 2 versions of Agartha to be triggered with the "ESC" key on the keyboard. On the second build, it is possible to speed up and slow down the game using certain keys on the keyboard, a sort of remote control. A playable section, using the debug menu, seems to have existed on the second build.
A graphic designer friend had created for the occasion the front and back cover of the games in homemade version to dress up your games.
The music in the game was meant to be scary, terrifying. It was composed by "Vachey Philippe". I count 23 different compositions by referring to the corrupted build.
-KALAPATHAR_EXTR01 -KALAPATHAR_EXTR03 -KALIGANDAKI_EXTR03 -KALIGANDAKI_EXTR07 -KALIGANDAKI_EXTR09 -KALIGANDAKI_EXTR11 -KANCHENJUNGA_EQ -KANCHENJUNGA_EXTR09
-KANCHENJUNGA_EXTR11 -KANCHENJUNGA_EXTR13 -KIANGJING_EXTR03 -KIANGJING_EXTR06 -KIANGJING_EXTR07 -LADAKH_EXTR02 -LOUPIOTV3 -PE03_22_EXTR01
You can listen to them on his site " https://www.audiogamers.com/albums/agartha/ ", hoping that he will add more in the future.
You will be able to read a file on the reverse engineering of the games by going to the page "Agartha Dreamcast reverse engineering" .
Download the Agharta demo:
Download the corrupted version of Agharta:
Download the 2 build pack with archive.org:
Article partly taken from Benjamin Berget. You can find it here as well as my interview :)