Fellow Traveler and Paranoid Productions indoctrinated me into the Collective Justice Mission and have sent me down to South America to join my fellow members of the congregation in Freedom Town… Well, they were just cool enough to let me try out their game The Church in the Darkness.
The game takes place in the 1970s where you take on the role of an ex-cop named Vic who infiltrates the Collective Justice Mission cult’s paradise Freedom Town in what seems to be an eerie parody of Jonestown. Vic’s mission is to find his nephew Alex to see if he’s alright but soon after you arrive, you realize not everything is well.
The game is a top view game where you can zoom in a little bit to see more details but other than that, this is the only angle you will see. This actually does help as when you couch you can see the guard’s field of view (depending on the difficulty level you choose).
The game has 19 possible endings depending on your actions and what the personalities of the cult leader’s is during the game as each playthrough is different each time. This leads to an important thing you should know about this game… its perma-death meaning that when you die, the game is over and you start all over.
Your progress is only saved if you pause the game and pick the “save and quit” option, this really does not help because this is where my only complaint I have about the game comes in. If you load a saved game, and you continue playing where you left off, if you die OR quit the game, your saved data is now gone and you have to start all over again. I believe this game is not that long if you play it successfully (hence the multiple endings).
The next thing that kind of bugged me was the map. It’s a bit difficult to read and tell where YOU are on the map. After many playthroughs, I slowly began to get a general idea. You’re a triangle on the map; no matter what direction you face you’re always a triangle pointing up. To gaming vets, this may be an odd feeling as normally the triangle that represents the character points in the direction they face.
Now with the bad stuff out of the way, onto the good! I normally don’t like polygon, low graphic games but this one gets a pass from me, because of the angle the camera is in this game it really does not matter what the people look like, the environment is detailed enough that it drowns out how the characters look.
The sound is pretty good overall with the ambient jungle sounds. The NPCs seem to talk like “Sims” where they’re just making noises and not really using words which can be good as you’re not being overwhelmed by dialogue. Speaking of dialogue, throughout gameplay you hear the cult leaders Rebecca and Isaac Walker on the PA system. Both characters are voiced by real-life husband and wife Ellen McLain (“Portal”) and John Patrick Lowrie (Team Fortress 2).
The controls are pretty simple and quick to pick up which is good because once you get the hang of it, you’ll be able to get yourself out of sticky situations pretty quick, prolonging your jungle adventure. Combat is a bit tricky so I would advise trying to stay out of trouble as much as possible but hey, play how you want to!
If you’re someone who likes to explore and rummage through people’s things to learn more of the lore, this is a game for you as that’s pretty much what you have to do in order to locate your nephew and help other cult members with side missions.
Overall The Church in the Darkness is a well-made game that offers hours of fun to those with the patience and will to endure the game’s challenging tasks and the unforgiving death system. May you go quietly or run and gun, you can’t argue that this game offers the right amount of tension and adventure. Out of five stars, this game is 4.5!
The Church in the Darkness is out now for PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Steam, and Nintendo Switch.