It has been a long road for developer Richard Rouse III, a developer that has the honour to work with the likes of Kojima himself, to fulfill his dream of the game he always wanted to create. The Church in the Darkness, a rogue-like game with several other different mechanics. Is a game type we haven’t seen many of before. Let’s have a look if this game with sects is a one of a kind or a forgetfull tale.
The game begins quite worrisome with a loading time that only just brings you to the title screen. Luckily it only stays with this initial session of waiting before you can venture off in to an unknown world in Latin America, where you have to search for your nephew Alex who went missing after several months of zero communication with the outside world. The game literaly throws you in the game with no help at all, it is up to you to get information from locals and try to solve all the mysteries at hand. It immediately sets the bar high for some, but it can be a joy for others to try and figure everything out on your own.
When you start the game on the normal difficulty you are in for a ruthless treat. The game will make sure you die often and allthough you learn from each death, you can be sure that one more will be right around the corner during your next run. The randomization of the environment and characters is the only real thing that changes each game. The main story and idea remains the same. You can see the field of vision of your enemy for a short period when pressing the B button and that helps a little, or you can choose to start the game in easy (called Interloper) for a more easier ride in order to survive.
The other benefit os going the easy road is that you receive less damage and as such, die less. The enemies aren’t really that hard, it’s rather the amount of enemies where things become tricky. The AI itself is fairly dull, getting out of sight is enough to make the enemy forget you even exist and somehow that is a little dissapointing. Some other rogue-mike aspects that the game offers is that it is very hard to save. Mixing this with the fact that you can often make a choice in the game develops for more possible playthroughs, as you not only can save Alex, but also help others with certain tasks that will lead to different results. Some are even only available for a certain time so choosing whether to go do one thing first might make you not able to clear certain other elements anymore. There is also the case that going for Alex directly will make you clear the game in a swift manner, but leaving so many more side-quests open to be discovered.
There are also a few bad game choices and design flaws to be found while playing. The game promises you total freedom, but only gives you so little in that you usually only have one choice on how to end your quests or story. Allies are often in weird locations and dying often results in cumbersome load times and a repetitive procedural generation of the world with an engine that isn’t really the prettiest among the rogue-likes. You also get to see the same dialogues again and again, a bit more variation might have been welcome. We even turned down our volume as the voices and music soundtracks weren’t exactly entertaining.
Is this game really that bad? Well no, the game has its good points to. Infiltrating the sect and getting to know the characters, finding all the different endings and the stories behind every symbol or person is quite entertaining. It’s just the giftwrapped package where the fundamental gameplay elements are build in that could, and maybe even should, have been better. If you like rogue-likes and have the option to play this game from time to time on the go then it is definitely a game that is worth checking out, just don’t overdo in in the gameplay sessions or you might come out unpleased, this is one sect you won’t gonna get stuck in forever.
The Church in the Darkness is one sect you won’t get sucked in, but it is an entertaining and interesting experience nonetheless.