The Church in the Darkness | PS4 Review

Wednesday 7 August 2019

Publisher: Fellow Traveller
Developer: Paranoid Productions
PS4 Review

*Disclaimer: I was sent the code for this game in return for a review, all opinions are mine and mine alone. 

As I sat playing The Church in the Darkness my partner asked me what the game was about and what I had to do. I explained that it was a stealth game from a birdseye view and that your character would have to try to find the best routes to take without getting seen and he instantly said, "Oh, just like Metal Gear Solid". The more I played and thought about it, the more I realised he was right and that it was the best comparison for the game, and it was clear that the strategy used to navigate the game was to make more difficult. The story behind the game is that your character goes on a mission to find your nephew, who has joined the religious colony called freedom town. The Church in the Darkness is set in the late 1970s and is based around cult life situated in South America, the elements and objectives within the game are very simple, you're on the Island to search for your nephew Alex, unsure of his whereabouts and even if he is alive you take on the task to search the colony until you find him.

The town that the colony are building is still under construction in order to grow in numbers so it's still very minimalistic, the equipment you use in order to find your nephew and survive is very minimal too and you only have limited space. On the Island you find yourself having to either fight your way to Alex or distract/stealth kill people, I was spotted a lot and would find myself panicking to find a hiding place. Whilst searching you slowly get to know more about the colony but each time the narrative will change with every playthrough which gives the game more playability. This gives the game a unique look which will make you second guess whether or not this is the place for Alex. You will only know if it is by talking to him and finding him. At times I forgot to equip my gun so would have to make a run for it and hope I survived.

In order to find the locations which are marked on the map, you search buildings, desks, and trunks. Along the way, you will find guns, ammo, medkits, etc. So if you do run into trouble, you're ready to take the enemies on. The game is from a birdseye view so you're looking down on your character and the island, I personally found it awkward to play from a  bird's eye view it's something I'm not used to and made navigating the Island a little harder. Having Auto-aim helps but wasn't enough to help me fight my way out of a bad situation. So I don't recommend going in with guns blazing no matter how frustrating is waiting to slip past the guards.

For those gamers who like to be pushed in a game and play on hard mode, there are four different modes you can play. Each mode will make you work out what best route to take to find Alex, you could say The Church in the Darkness has a puzzle element to it. I got frustrated at times as I died a lot, it took some time to get used to how the controls worked and working out the best routes to slip past the enemies. Most of the time I would stealth kill which had a huge effect on my gameplay. Once I was caught one of the leaders would make the choice to either kill me or give me a warning and spare me.

Because the game is set in the jungle I would have thought I would bump into dangerous animals but the game focused more on the colony and the tasks you needed to complete and once you get to know the map after a few games plays it starts to feel like a tedious task. I went into this game thinking it would be a lot simpler but was met with a lot of problems such as not having the right equipment to destroy the alarms that have gone off now that someone had spotted you, given this was a great idea but at one point I had 6 different enemies surrounding the building I was in so I had to make the choice to make a run for it (I did survive though). At one point I had thrown a stone to distract the enemies and quickly hid in a trunk, the enemies walked up to the steps of the hut and got stuck for all of 5 minutes because they were in each other's way.

Although the objective and story are the same with every playthrough it's interesting to see how the personalities of the colony's leaders change as well as collecting different snippets of collectible paperwork along the way, they were packed full of a lot of information that helps put the Island and colonies purpose into perspective. I'm not the kind of person who likes to comment on cult life but because this is such a big part of the game it was interesting to see the outlook these leaders had on life and what they're doing to live life the way they choose. Cult's don't have the best reputation so I think The Church in the Darkness is a good learning tool to explain what cults are and their objective especially because of the narrative to the game and story changes with every gameplay.

My first 2 playthroughs took me about 40 minutes each but thanks to the game having different endings and difficulty settings you can make the most out of the game as a whole, I personally played on the easiest mode at first then tried the harder modes and realised there wasn't any chance I would be able to get through the game using them modes but those who love a hardcore mode and like to be pushed (as I said earlier) will enjoy playing through each of the four modes to earn the platinum trophy.

My biggest worry with this game is the birdseye point of view and what those with a visual impairment may encounter when playing, your character and the NPC's aren't exactly easy to see and even I had to sit closer to my screen than I normally would to see what I was doing and where I should go. I would like to see a better zoom-in option implemented to help solve this, the one they have only zooms in a certain amount. The game does provide subtitles which is handy as I tend to use subtitles when I play any game as well as subtitles it has language options but they're very limited.

Although I wasn't the biggest fan of The Church in the Darkness, it's clear that the game is much more than it seems, the developers have taken on the task to create a game with different endings and narratives in a way that make you second guess your thoughts on what cults are and what they preach. The main issue for me was the birdseye view but I'm sure other players will like playing a game from a different perspective, overall I give this game 3/5 my rating is based solely on my opinion and how well I got on with the game. 


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