The Church In The Darkness Review – Don’t Go Down To The Woods!
The Church In The Darkness
The Church In The Darkness is set in the 1970’s and follows the story of Vic, an ex-cop from America.
Your mission is to liberate your nephew Alex from a cult that escaped the corruption, capitalism and prejudices of America. Fleeing to South Africa and setting up Freedom Town.
The Church In The Darkness is essentially a single player stealth-em-up. Although the map you play on stays the same, everything else is randomised with each run, meaning each run will be different.
At the start of each run you’ll get the choice of a few items to take with you, such as weapons or medkits. You can also choose to have random preacher personalities.
Unfortunately I never noticed much of a difference with each personality, aside from some of the propaganda filled preaching throughout the run.
You can pick up more items along the way, like helpful intel and dossiers.These also change with each run and can be looted from crates, cupboards and desks.
Don’t Fence Me In
Your actions throughout your run will affect the ending you’ll get. Likewise, whether you choose a lethal or non lethal approach.
If you choose a non lethal peaceful approach, you’ll simply be caged when caught. However, if you choose to leave a trail of bodies in your wake, the cult leaders won’t hesitate to execute you!
Speaking of execution, you’ll do well to adhere to the cults strict shoot-on-site policy. For the most part, the stealth mechanic simply requires you to avoid the guards, whom will shoot you if they detect you.
Conveniently, you can see their sight cones at any time with a simple tap of B. From here on in it’s simply a case of running around them.
That’s right, the guards won’t even hear you sprinting through the woods. So long as you avoid their line of sight you’re all good. You can also create distractions by throwing rocks, which is helpful.
Slowly Does It
Given the nature of the game, it lends itself to multiple play-throughs, especially if you want to see them all.
Each run can last anywhere between 10 and 30 minutes, depending on how efficient you are. Herein lies the rub.
Despite the game trying to give you a different experience each time, the fact that it’s the same map, combined with very little difference in preacher personalities, monotony sets in very quickly.
Sure, the locations of the cultists that will cooperate with you, your spawn location and the location of the clues do keep you on your toes, but that’s the extent.
I liked the concepts that Paranoid Productions was going for in The Church In The Darkness. In theory it sounded like fun. However, most of the mechanics were very short lived and monotony soon set in.
Despite there being several random elements and different difficulty settings that changed things like AI intelligence, how easily you are killed and how many guards there would be, it all felt very shallow.
It came across like fluff, hiding a game that is essentially very short and devoid of any depth and meaningful content. This for me was a shame, as the writing was actually very authentic.
Not many developers dare to incorporate such themes as cults, fascism and racism, yet Paranoid Productions have done a commendable job here.
My last gripe was with the performance. It’s developed with a cell-shaded, low-poly style. With not much really happening on-screen, it was surprising to see dropped frames.
Also load times were an issue for me. Whilst in game, it wasn’t so bad, the initial splash screen when firing up seemed to take an age to go away. Several minutes in fact. At one point I thought my Switch had frozen!
Hopefully these issues can be ironed out with future patches, as it’s a blot on an otherwise interesting title.
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Reviewed by Micramanic on the Nintendo Switch. Game provided by Fellow Traveller.