The Church in the Darkness has intrigued us since it first appeared in early 2016 with its reveal teaser trailer. For those who haven’t heard of the game, it thrusts players headfirst into a cult. This all takes place in the 1970s when protagonist Vic finds himself worried about his nephew Alex. Growing distrustful of the U.S. government, Alex left with a radical group who decided to build a compound in South Africa. Vic isn’t quite sure what to expect when he gets there, but it’s safe to say that nothing good comes of this visit.
When it comes to real life cults, The Church in the Darkness appears to get some of its inspiration from Jim Jones’ infamous Jonestown compound. Perhaps things won’t reach the same terrible conclusion as that real world cult, however, now that Vic is involved. Thanks to the protagonist’s history of being an ex-cop, he brings with him skills that make sense when it comes to infiltrating the ironically named Freedom Town. Don’t expect a shooter, though.
Gameplay in The Church in the Darkness takes a top down perspective with its third-person gameplay. You can opt to play it totally stealth or make much more noise, if that’s your style. As you explore the encampment in the jungle, there will be many people who attempt to stop you. Why don’t they recognize the madness they’re living within? It helps that the cult leaders, as is so often the case, are outrageously charismatic. Even so, Freedom Town also features its fare share of citizens who no longer want anything to do with the cult. To them, you’re a much-needed savior in otherwise awful circumstances. Trying to navigate between these distinct groups of people will likely prove difficult.
The Church in the Darkness could have easily gone two directions with its art style. It could have pursued a cartoony, ridiculous aesthetic to make fun of the mere concept of cults or it could push for something more realistic and weighty. So far it appears that the developers have gone with the latter concept. Although not hyper realistic, the visuals aim for realism and feature drab, depressing colors.
It’s intriguing to see video games take on tougher topics like cults. After all, they are not some sort of fantasy to frolic within — they have very much been real over the years and across the globe. We’ll see how this representation all turns out when The Church in the Darkness launches on Windows and Mac, PS4 and Xbox One in 2018.