Gamers aren’t usually associated with traditional, religious beliefs. Quite the opposite, in fact. And yet games, like all other creative mediums, feature a tremendous amount of religious and spiritual references. And so on this Easter holiday, we take stock of some of the greatest games to feature such otherworldly overtones.
Happy Easter, Voxelites!
Daniel Garner was supposed to take his wife out for a birthday treat. Instead, he ended up ploughing their car into a truck, sending his wife to heaven and consigning himself to purgatory. And by purgatory, we mean Doom-esque mindless shooting of wave-upon-wave of demonic spawn. Want to reunite Daniel with his wife? No problem: just kill four of Lucifer’s generals. Simples.
Wouldn’t it be nice to have a God of War styled game that wasn’t based upon Greek mythology? Enter Dante’s Inferno. Set in the Third Crusade, old Dante finds himself stained with the blood of innocents that he was supposed to protect. Oh, and stabbed in the back by as assassin. Bummer. Enter Death, who reveals that Dante is to be condemned to everlasting damnation for his sins. Well, it’s that or destroy Death, steal his scythe, slice through the hordes of evil, make a path through hell, buddy-up with Lucifer and overthrow Heaven. And all this before lunch.
DmC: Devil May Cry
An alternate reality reboot, you say?! Right. Well, I suppose that we’ll be rejecting all of the angelic references, all of the demonic, twisted beasts, the slipping into limbo and generally over-the-top carnage then? No? Oh well. At least it’s a bit of a belter!
Condemned: Criminal Origins
Although lacking in direct religious references, this little beauty captured the sense of an unseen force perhaps better than any other before it. Taking the role of Ethan Thomas, a CSI agent in Metro City, you begin by hunting Serial Killer X. As you trawl your way through the rank underbelly of society, things take a turn for the worse (as if that was possible) and you find yourself investigating a dark, extraneous force known as The Hate. Very ‘Jeepers Creepers’.
Playing as the nameless, voiceless Point Man, you are sent by the U.S. government to investigate an apparent industrial uprising at Armacham Technology. All’s well and good. Except the uprising is lead by one Paxton Fettel, your long-lost brother, general nut-job and son of the dead/undead Alma, who makes Stephen King’s Carrie look like Uri Geller. Throw in some superb AI, stylish bullet-time and nerve-shredding action, and you’re on to a winning formula. Creepy as hell.
Jackie Estacado is your regular New York mafia gangster: brutal, cold, efficient and equipped with demonic arms and a horde Darklings that run around opening doors for him. Driven by the desire to avenge the death of his childhood sweetheart, Jackie controls/is controlled by the Darkness: an ancient force that has inhabited his family for generations. A bit of heart-munching and oppressive WW1 re-enactment later, and you’ve managed to leave a trail of destruction as long as your left tentacle. Wrong!
Populous and its spiritual successor From Dust may be the first god-games that folk are likely to quote, but it was the original sequel to Populous, Powermonger, that best captured the sense of power, brutality and conflict that is found in equal measure with awe and wonder in religious texts. Built upon a significantly enhanced version of the Populous engine, this was a game light-years ahead of its time. A deeply challenging struggle, the sense of being an omnipotent force was balanced perfectly with the apparent free-will of the insects whose world you sought to shape. Classic game.
Shadow of the Colossus
An enchanting, haunting and unforgettable journey. On your quest to save the soul of your long lost love, Mono, you take apart a series of pagan gods/giants/puzzles in a world that’s perhaps one of the most fantastically realised that you’ll ever come across. A fairytale; an adventure; a cerebral challenge; a deeply spiritual journey: SoTC has it all. A genuine, epic, timeless wonder.
Rejecting the predictable blood-and-guts approach to religion-themed titles, Journey is all about positivity and light. A genuinely spiritual and uplifting experience, Journey is a revelation and worthy of its numerous accolades, including five BAFTAs. A beautiful, timeless story delivered wordlessly and peacefully, Journey comes about as close to art as any other game has done in the history of the medium.