Batman: Arkham Asylum is far and away the best super-hero game I’ve ever played and one of the ten best games overall. This game is what I have always wanted a super hero game to be with a little Tomb Raider, a little Zelda, a little Splinter Cell – these folks did everything right. I’ve…
There is no way that any video game or series of video games can possibly tell the stories we want to tell at Soma Games.
Neither could a graphic novel,
…or a book,
…or a movie.
If ‘the medium is the message’ then we will only have told our stories properly when they are told across multiple media, each used in its proper place to express the proper part of a manifold expression of creativity that ought to transcend any single medium.
Christian game developers have toiled in obscurity for all these years largely because we’re broke and making a video game is an expensive proposition. With little access to capital games have struggled with older technology that doesn’t compete with current expectations and anemic (…or totally absent…) marketing budgets. The two factors make the whole enterprise of building a Christian game a daunting task. The Catch-22 of course is that investors want to see some proven indication that a title has a reasonable chance of making a profit but it’s been next to impossible to prove the point when nobody can make a realistically funded effort. (Left Behind notwithstanding…ahem)
But two recent releases have me smiling about things to come. The first is Heaven The Game (which we reviewed here) and the other is Adam’s Venture. Neither game is what you would really call a AAA title and neither plays on a console which is where most of the gaming market is right now, but neither title could have been cheap to make, and that means somebody is starting invest some serious dollars into this niche I’ve been talking about for years.
Herman Melville once said “The reason the mass of men fear God, and at bottom dislike him, is because they rather distrust His heart and fancy him all brain, like a watch.” Alas – how true this is that so many folks have really only heard about God’s seemingly insensitive expectations, his rules, and they have no experience with his heart.
I have a deeply held belief that our universe is far more beautiful than it is functional. I also think that God made it that way as a reflection of his own nature; that Beauty is a fundamental aspect of all reality because it is one the most essential parts of God’s heart.
Trying to learn what we can from such an excellent game I found their execution of the Hero’s Journey tale brilliant. It also hit all the themes John Eldredge would appreciate: A battle to fight, an adventure to live, and a beauty to rescue. Except here the beauty is a space marine who’d just as well deck you as kiss you. (Never mind Liara, she’s odd) ME was able to hit all the points of the classic hero formula without ever feeling formulaic and that is hard to do. As I was playing through the game I found myself watching cut scenes that were so classic in their direction that it reminded me of some old hero movie like Sparticus or something, and BioWare wrote this borderline melodramatic tale without any hint of the self-aware post-modern junk I see so often these days.
This post is gonna be a little tricky. I just finished playing a new release called “Heaven” by Genesis Works. It’s a puzzle type game in the style of Myst that lets the player explore the Throne Room city described in Revelation.
Here’s why this is gonna be hard, Heaven sits firmly in the class of video games that I deliberately want to avoid with Soma Games and it steps into several of the traps that I think have plagued this niche from the get-go. That said, I think I can take a pretty good guess as to what drives the folks who made this game and I expect it’s good stuff – they take their faith seriously and were driven to bring something they are passionate about to the medium they are passionate about, I get that. So there is this balance I want to have of honestly reviewing a product that is now out in the public in an industry I aspire to contribute to without just taking pot-shots or tearing down people who I would probably enjoy hanging out with…not an easy line.