Top Critic Average
Discovering the secrets of the Freedom Town cult, who has power and influence where, as well as the inner workings of the leadership are the best parts of The Church In The Darkness. That combines with excellent stealth gameplay, a dynamic and engaging scenario-based narrative, and some excellent characters with great voice acting to create a memorable and unique experience. An experience that is only held back by a few technical issues and some missing quality of life features.
"The Church in the Darkness" takes the unsettling approach of realism. It's convincing as a story of a 1970s cult, and Freedom Town is a chilling look inside an isolated cult in the middle of the jungles of South America.
The Church in the Darkness send you creeping into the heart of the South American jungle to uncover the mysteries of a cult, the lure of their message, and the status of your nephew. Will they welcome you with the love of Jesus or is God the only one in this camp who will have mercy on your wretched soul?
That said, The Church in the Darkness is a smart stealth game that impressively warps to reflect your actions. It lets you get in and break out as you see fit. While failure still feels like failure, success is sweet and varied. Once it gets a hold of you, you may not want to break out, at all.
You won’t find many games like this. The mirroring of reality and history, the pensive and sober presentation (unlike the over-the-top Far Cry 5) puts you in a different headspace as a gamer if you’re earnest about the experience from the moment you step into the jungle. If you want to experience something that is distinctive, a far cry from what you might be used to, The Church in the Darkness will give your conscience a workout. The weighty subject matter is not for everyone, however.
In a time when marketers are tripping over themselves to distance their games from the overt politics they draw upon, The Church in the Darkness unapologetically runs in the opposite direction. Freedom Town isn’t just a facsimile of a political movement, it’s a borderline reenactment that asks players to take its world, and history, seriously.
You won’t find many games on the market that take on the subject of religious cults and presents them in an all too real light. In that regard, The Church in the Darkness does well by its subject matter, allowing you to investigate Freedom Town in a way that might actually change the way you look at the people who make up the Collective Justice Mission.
The Church In the Darkness offers a neat concept with some solid gameplay quirks albeit a little sloppy in execution at times. Fans of stealth will enjoy what’s on offer here and those with an interest in finding out various fates of the cult will have fun replaying to see all endings (which are text and song based rather than cut-scenes). It’s a nice game and worthy of a look in despite its relative simplicity. By the end of it though Issac and Rebecca’s chilling words might get the better of you.
The Church in the Darkness has much more value as an idea and as a story creation tool than it has as a game. For people like myself, it’s interesting how the information the game sets as constant from the beginning, but does not reveal to the player, can influence the way a narrative organically develops, and guides the player to adopt different play styles to suit.
The Church in the Darkness has created a story that makes you question the cult's motives with every playthrough. No game is the same, but even though their are some neat ideas, the technical issues can really hamper your enjoyment.
While I can't call The Church in the Darkness bad, it's a disappointingly limited experience. Once the excellent setting and the randomization wear off you're left with a clunky top-down stealth game.
The Church in the Darkness tries to be different and it is, but it's not always "good different". Gameplay is boring and dull, but the whole atmosphere and story are acceptable and fun at times. Each time that you start the campaign, some things are different, which makes increases replay value. Overall It's not a memorable experience but it's a different one that you can try for its nice atmosohere and story-telling.
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Overall, Church in the Darkness is an ambitious product and while I understand what they were trying to accomplish, I feel they are just slightly off the mark. It’s a fun game, and one I still find myself going back to, but purely in the interest of seeing what endings there are, rather than being pulled in by the story. It just wasn’t everything that I was expecting.
Wrapping up, The Church in the Darkness is a small well put together game. Personally, it’s not the kind of game I would play a lot. It is fun for a couple of hours, but with limited content and minimal rogue-like elements, it certainly won’t hold up in the long run. It’s not a bad game; it’s just not my type of game. For these reasons, I will objectively be giving The Church in the Darkness the Silver Award.
While interesting on paper, The Church in the Darkness is mostly just a collection of anti-capitalist audio logs blaring over harder-than-it-needs-to-be stealth gameplay. There's no love lost in this place.
The Church in the Darkness is built on the mechanic of making numerous runs through the story with the aim of encountering all the different end games, but it just doesn’t hold your attention long enough to make it worthwhile sticking with it.
The Church in the Darkness has some good ideas, but they're not properly realised. Gameplay never ventures out of its basic boundaries, while the narrative doesn't offer up enough variety or compelling subplots to engage with. The Church in the Darkness is competent for a couple of playthroughs, but it's an experience that you'll quickly forget about.
Aside from the vastly eclectic endings, the gameplay just isn’t enough to sustain it through several attempts to find them all. The gameplay never deviates from avoiding vision cones and knocking some people out if necessary. And as the game is encouraging you to experience it over and over again, it really needed a compelling reason to work your way to another ending. The premise and the endings are the clear standouts. It’s the bit in-between that makes it feel like The Church in The Darkness is a squandered opportunity.
There are some intriguing ideas at play here. Decent stealth mechanics and a captivating cultist backdrop will reel you in though there just isn't enough substance to make The Church in the Darkness a lasting, worthwhile experience.