Most of the time when video games tackle the subject of cults its to give heavily armed musicians more robe-wearing demon-worshippers to burn rockets at. Richard Rouse IIIs The Church in the Darkness takes a different approach.
The games cult, the Collective Justice Mission( CJM ), has more in common with real world cults like Jim Jones Peoples Temple, of Jonestown Massacre infamy. But and this is where Church in the Darkness gets really interesting the CJM isnt always doomed.
The games narrative factors are randomized. In one playthrough, you are able to meet a group of gun-toting fanatics; in another, they could just be hippies that want to live in the woods.
In any version of the story, you stealthily infiltrate the CJM’s jungle compound to learn the fate of one of our own member. The random nature of the tale and endless replayability it offers borrows from the “roguelike” genre, while the controls and top-down position of “the worlds” are reminiscent of twin-stick shooters like Geometry Wars or Robotron 2084 .
“You can play the game a lot of different ways. You dont have to kill anybody at all to finish the game, or you can choke people out one by one, ” Rouse told Mashable .
“If you go in and you find out they were just separatists who wanted to do their own thing and you killed them all, then youre the asshole, right? But if they genuinely are dangerous, you can decide … to assassinate the religion leaders.”
Rouse, whose previous work includes The Suffering horror plays, is developing Faith in the Darkness em> with his corporation Paranoid Productions. The cult focus comes from Rouse’s own fascination with these periphery groups.
From the outside[ religions] always seem to be weird or dangerous, but often theyre not dangerous, theyre just some bizarre guys who want to go do something and theyre not going to hurt themselves and not hurt anybody. But then sometimes they are dangerous, ” Rouse said.
That’s the thinking behind the game’s randomized plot. Cults can take many forms, and the definition of what one actually is varies.
“I envision modern software corporations are cults sometimes, right? They have that strong figurehead, everyone follows and doesnt topic, and merely does whatever Leader X mentions, ” Rouse told. “Ive worked at corporations like that.”
The Collective Justice Mission is led by evangelists Isaac and Rebecca Walker, voiced by Team Fortress 2 s Patrick Lowrie( the Sniper) and Portal ‘s Ellen McLain( the villainous GLaDOS ). At Sony’s recent PlayStation Experience 2016, Rouse and his crew handed out pamphlets inviting attendees to come visit Freedom Town, the cults 100 -acre South America compound, “where all are equal.”
“By build Freedom Town, we have mailed a message to the world, ” reads a quote in the pamphlet from Preacher Isaac Walker.
Your first aim upon entering Freedom Town is tracking down a contact who can level you toward the person youre there to check on. That contact can be in any of a number of locations, and hell has responded to you differently depending how many of his fellow cult members youve taken out or notified on your behavior there.
Most roguelikes have highly simple-minded plots like explore the dungeon. Church is different, incorporating the narrative into that randomization system.
“This is very carefully and specifically designed around this setting. Its kind of fascinating to me how these things develop, how they go wrong, how the peoples of the territories in their own homes with the best intents turned off severely, but also its a great setting for video games, ” Rouse said.
“They isolate themselves, make their own own little world … a lot of plays like immersive sim-type games[ like Dishonored 2 ] make like an ecosystem that youre going into.”
In stimulating Church , Rouse and his team analyzed religions from throughout history, including the present day.
“The 70 s was a unique day for[ cults ], Rouse mentioned. “We all thought we were going to die any time; its like, nuclear apocalypse was coming because of the Cold War and all that. People were sick of that and they discovered “whats going on” in Vietnam etc ., and they were like Yeah, lets run do something else. This isnt working.
“It was a time when it felt like maybe we could go do something else and it would work out.”
The dev team looked at most modern religions as well up to and including those that have risen up since 2000 but Rouse supposes the ‘7 0s-era optimism that shaped earlier instances is absent now.
“Theres a group in Australia right now[ the motion] thats out in Queensland in the woods, ” Rouse said. “The guy says hes the reincarnation of Jesus and he has a Mary Magdalene and stuff, and all these people are moving there, imparting him all their fund, and he announces the end of the world is coming in a couple of years.”
Yet for all the many differences that advised different narrative routes in The Church in the Darkness , there is one universal constant, as Rouse determines it.
A cult is always a bizarre thing where youre sort of giving up your self-determination, he announced. As an intruder, the player in The Church in the Darkness has no such problem.
The Faith in the Darkness em> begin to PC, PlayStation 4, and Xbox One sometime in 2017.