godzilla_sushi's Clive Barker's Jericho (Xbox 360) review

Dark, Depressing, Dismal, etc.

The rental of rentals, never have I been so sure that a game should never be purchased. This game whose title will remain unspoken, practically begs to be played through in a day. Without playing this game, I wouldn’t have been able to appreciate the dark and grim style from Gears of War. No dreadful aesthetic can truly be appreciated until you spend time with something even more baffling in its disgusting and filthy existence. For every moment you spent pondering where the greens and blues went in Gears of War, you’ll spend the entire play through of this game wondering just how it was possible for any developer to expect the common human being to jump in and immediately be drawn to the experience.

Each underdeveloped and excruciatingly frustrating cut-scene tells a story that I neither understood, nor wanted to understand. All it takes is ten minutes in this dark miserable world of a game before you start to realize that this is what you’ll be seeing for the next ten to fifteen hours. Of all the darkest, most vile games created, this game can now take a high spot on my list. This does not mean the game is good or bad, simply that it reminds me why we don’t see Doom taken as far as it could possibly go. Because for any survival horror game, you’ll spend hours in misery and despair with the chance to enjoy what makes it a video game. That could be the story, the well thought out controls, or the scripted moments that bring you those thrills. In any event, time spent in those worlds will always be stressful on the player.

This game has some very difficult and very depressing levels created or inspired from time periods in the past. What I can’t get my head around is why they represent these stages with mostly reds, browns, and blacks. It’s a never ending series of desolate locations. At times, you could say it’s like navigating a maze, blind, in the dark. The stages are linear; there aren’t a lot of places you can go. But where the game fails are the other areas. Each stage has areas that are blocked off. But they look like you can walk through them. It’s very confusing. At other times, the game has a place you need to get to, but you’ll search forever trying to find it. The colors play into that because everything looks the same. There aren’t landmarks to use.

The enemy design feels like the leftovers from a 1985 heavy metal thrash band’s album cover. The bosses have a gratuitous and superfluous visual style that leaves nothing out. There are bat-like monsters and soldier creatures that are neither here nor there. It’s a literal mish-mash of Quake and Narnia. Get used to seeing them on every stage.

So what about the shooting action itself? Well, what you might expect it to be as disastrous as the game’s visuals when it’s surprisingly quite the opposite. Each character of the squad has a different type of weapon, and different powers. This is not only the high point of the game, but a truly great set mechanics. There are puzzles that will take advantage of those powers, but they are few and far between. Grinding stage after stage the one thing that can keep you going are the controls. This could have been a completely different experience if only the IP was something a bit more desirable. Rather than having an inventory of weapons, I found the individual character’s weapons were distinct enough that you’d be able to pick what you felt best with. You can master the character you like the most. For me it was pistols and snipers. But there’s a heavy weapon that was pretty fun to get some use out of too.

It defeats the purpose of having all these great mechanics in the game when the game itself can reach new heights of unremarkable play. Completion requires patience and the greatest reward to be had are the achievements as proof that you finished the game. But that’s all you can really say about it. It’s not fun to look at and the argument could be made that it’s fun to play regardless. But the levels in the game take away from everything else. This might be the best adaptation of the worst possible IP in gaming history. Drawing from that brand will never win it any credit, but creating and building a decent set of game play ideas does show promise. I just could have done without everything else. It’s sad when in today’s market people won’t buy a game without a name attached. Maybe that wasn’t the case here, but it sure feels like they couldn’t find a way to sell the game without something attached. It’s an abysmal waste of great ideas.

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