Religion, cultists and choices… all can be found in the new title from Paranoid Productions and Director Richard Rouse III. With a nice gaming portfolio under his belt, Richard needs no introduction; and now, is bringing to us The Church In The Darkness. A top down look at how religion can be very powerful – and what it can do to people.
In the late 1970s, the charismatic Isaac and Rebecca Walker lead the Collective Justice Mission. Labelled radicals and feeling persecuted by the US government, they relocate their followers to the one place they believe they can create a socialist utopia in the jungles of South America. There they build Freedom Town. But relatives left behind in the US become worried: what exactly is going on at this compound in the jungle?
The Church in the Darkness combines unique narrative with tight top-down action-infiltration gameplay in an open-ended environment. As Vic, an ex-law enforcement officer, you travel to South America to get into Freedom Town and check on your nephew, Alex. Play how you want – you can avoid detection completely, take on the guards using non-lethal methods, or kill anyone who gets in your way. But you’ll have to live with the consequences of those choices.
“No one is forced to join a cult. It welcomes you. It understands you. It envelops you until the words become more than truth – they make you whole.”
The story kicks off with you playing as the kin of a cult member in search to find them and return home safely. Along the way you meet new people and new situations. Will you help these so called ‘new’ friends or leave as quick as possible to avoid detection!? These are just some of the choices you will have to make. Exploring and meeting new people also open up new areas thus expanding the game as you play. Stealth is a key factor in this game as you rely on checking which way your enemies are facing before you make a move, step within their vision and the cultists will start to sniff you out or at worst, chase and shoot.
You can be captured three times and have 3 chances to escape from your cell and continue the mission from an area designated by the game or its game over and you have to reload. This isn’t all bad though as it gives the player a chance to explore a different narrative of the game as each play experience offers a different set of behaviours for the preachers and how the game may play out. It also packs a whopping 19 endings to explore and achieve, depending on what you do in-game and how many objectives achieved.
As you come across towns and small villages you can enter the houses, sheds or farms to search cupboards, chests or to just hide when being chased. As this is a top-down view the roofs will disappear while entering a building. Scraps and electrical devices can be found around the map to use as tools to short out the closest alarm box which will bring the cult members to that spot when alerted. You can collect bandages and food to heal yourself or you can hang onto them for a later time in the game. Shotguns, pistols; all the good stuff is here, while you can also look for ammo and other useful items while searching towns and villages, lending the game an original GTA feel – but with more crouching. The Church In The Darkness has a very stable control setup and can be learnt in a matter of minute making it very easy to just pick-up and play.
The Church In The Darkness is definitely original and having not seen a game like this for a long time, it is a breath of fresh air indeed. The game runs smooth and looks great but with a very simple A.I. so gameplay isn’t all that challenging unless you opt-in for the hardest difficulty. The game isn’t very long and can be completed within a few hours. But then again, it can also be finished in 10 min also depending on how you play. Achievement hunters are going to have a ball with this title as they are picked up pretty quick and easily. Hidden amongst the many endings is the original soundtrack which releases a different song for each and ultimately unlocking them all.
The Church In The Darkness is a nice change to the contemporary games of today and strives to open the mind of religion and cultism in a top-view, open world environment with stealth mechanics and multi narrative story scripts. Looks great and plays great, albeit not being the longest game ever. It appeals to a different nature and pushes for originality.
This game was tested and reviewed on Xbox One. All of the opinions and insights here are subject to that version.Want to keep up to date with the latest Xt reviews, Xt opinions and Xt content? Follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube.