The Search for the Lost Moral
Download Size: 770 MB
Time Played: 1 hr.
What I'd Pay: $3
Steam Price (3/25/12): $5
At first, I thought this was just a cheap adventure puzzler imitating Indiana Jones. An archaeologist unearths an ancient chest showing the paths of four rivers which mark the entrance to the Garden of Eden? I could see Indiana Jones doing that; I'd like to see where this leads. It wasn't until a few puzzles and some exploration later, when I was trying to arrange a Biblical verse in the right order, that it hit me:
"Oh crap, this is a Christian game, isn't it?"
A bit of Googling later, it was confirmed: it was a Christian game. Christian games suffer the same problems (and prejudices) of educational games nowadays, namely that they're bad games developed on the cheap and slapped with that specific label just to sucker parents into buying a "wholesome game" for their kids. I leaned back in my chair and sighed. The game had been decent so far, but odds were it was gonna take a steep nosedive into suck. And it did... kind of.
As an actual game, it's nothing to write home about, but it won't make you rip your hair out either. Your character, Adam, walks through environments that wouldn't look out of place in an old Tomb Raider game, ducking through tunnels, shimmying along ledges, pulling columns and solving puzzles. Aside from a few timed puzzles where the clumsy controls really become noticeable, I breezed through most of the game without much disgust or frustration. In fact, if it had been set up as a generic cheap adventure game, I probably would've enjoyed it more and even given it a higher rating.
Buuut... it sets itself up as a Christian game. It fails utterly at that. And having grown up in a Christian family myself, with people who treat its principles and beliefs with serious debate and utmost care, I find it personally insulting that educating someone about my religion is apparently limited to revealing Biblical verses without any context.
For example, the first verse you arrange is "So these three things remain: Faith, Hope and Love. But the greatest of these is Love." Does it explain why love is the greatest of those? No. (If you're curious, read the quote in context here.) Does it have you choose between certain behaviors to show whether you realize what love refers to and why it's important? No. Instead, you have to choose between 3 doors labeled Faith, Hope, and Love. Gee, I wonder which one is the correct one...
It continues like this throughout the game. Each room has a Biblical verse that is vaguely connected to that room's puzzle, but never in a way that explains the meaning behind the verse, reducing it to just a nice-sounding quote. There's no choices or actions in the game that really show what it means to act like a Christian, either. It's only hinted at with the background, like the dark cloud (implied to be the Voice of Satan), tempting and mocking the hero, or the secret notes about a crusader resisting the urge to gather treasure beyond his wildest dreams at the price of his own soul. Why wasn't the game about him instead of a snarky one-dimensional explorer?
Christianity is 2 millenia old. The concepts behind it have fueled such works as Faust, Dante's Inferno, and the Chronicles of Narnia. You should do better than rote memorization about a religion. Explain the meaning behind the passages, the debates over its ethics, even have players make choices based on them and show the consequences! Don't fall back on this hackneyed worksheet stuff about something a lot of people take very seriously and call it educational. If you're going to do that, just make a generic adventure game and call it good, rather than selling a religion short to make a few bucks.