The Church in the Darkness, by Paranoid Productions and Fellow Traveller, is an isometric action-adventure game containing stealth mechanics and a very Jonestown reminiscent story; guiding you through an isolated community as you look for your son Alex. As you explore the jungle enclosure you’ll meet the leader and his wife as well as a few other “friendly” faces. Will you rescue Alex? Will you be able to even save yourself? One of the games multiple ending is the only judge of that so let’s break down the refreshingly replayable TCD.
An interesting sight for those who first start the game is a message saying that you will be met with randomly generated maps and preacher behaviors. Luckily, if you lose, you can try again with the last parameters used. Each time you start a new game however you will need to choose your gender and skin color as well as any starting gear you’ve unlocked to take along. Remember to save after each checkpoint cause you only have one life and while sometimes you will find yourself simply captured, you could also die.
After picking your starting parameters, you will start at the compound with what can be best described as a top-down, manhunt style game. You sneak around, you kill or subdue people, and you even get to search their bodies and homes for items before stashing them away in boxes to keep you safe from being found out. Other hazards include needing to disable alarms and not being found out by guards. If you are found you can usually run away unscathed but it’s safer to simply throw a rock and sneak around them most the time. That said this game is pretty difficult for its relatively easy controls and design. Overall I give it a C+ though I’d have liked the difficulty settings to be more impactful on the actual difficulty. C+
Not much to write home about really (no pun intended). It’s isometric, it looks like a jungle, and the characters look far less detailed than anything else you’ll see (that said the portraits are sweet). For graphics I’ll just let the screenshots speak for themselves. C
Music is the main driving force of the story. The intercom system of the compound will constantly subject you to bible verses, sagely wisdom of the cultist leader and his wife, and terrible singing. It speaks of clearly fake happiness and a loosing of control as the struggling cacophony of noise and guided messages bore into your skull. If this game does one thing right, it’s immersion through its sound design. Emotions will play through your mind with the agile footed finesse of a ballet dancer. It was the main driving force in my playthroughs of this game just trying to hear everything I could. A
The story is surprisingly rich considering the brunt of it is contained in the intercom system as well as papers you find scattered among the houses you come across in the form of brochures, letters, and other scraps like newspaper clippings. For those who are looking for further immersion, I would highly recommend you read up on the Jonestown incident from not too long ago on Wikipedia. I would also highly recommend striving for as many endings as possible. There is a ridiculous amount to discover and combined with the randomly generated maps and preacher personalities, it all feels more like a collective boxset from a series of games instead of just one game with a diverse branching of storytelling. If this game does something right, it’s crafting a world you want to return to often and it rewards you for it. A+
Overall; TCD is a somewhat aggravating in difficulty, stealth game with nearly limitless potential in storytelling, while still having a cohesive and balanced theme within it. I give it a final grade of B.
- The use of sound design really helps immerse you
- Replayabillity is staggering
- Storytelling is top notch
-Stealth aspect is a little hit or miss at times
- the beginning is very overwhelming even with the tutorial