Locusts, frogs, boils…and now THIS. Review

Catechumen Info

genre

  • N/A

players

  • 1 - 1

Publisher

  • N'Lightning

Developer

  • N/A

Release Date

  • 01/01/1970
  • Out Now

Platform

  • PC

rating

Locusts, frogs, boils…and now THIS.

Is it a new Latin dance craze that’s sweeping the nation? Something to put ointment on? Something to say “gesundheit” to? What, pray tell, is a Catechumen?

Way back a long, long time ago, Christians were being persecuted by Romans.

Roman spies were sneaking around capturing Christians by the dozens. In order

to keep the spies out, Christians came up with sort of a new recruit hazing

policy. Those who were new to the faith had to study the Bible for one year

before being accepted into the flock. These trainees were called Catechumen.

Apparently, this is something upon which a whole game can be built. And not

just any game, but a first-person shooter. Are you scratching your head, because

I sure was. I was also groaning and extremely confused.

But now I see the light, and it’s telling me to warn you against this game.

Allow me to preach the good word…

Let’s ignore the Bible thumping message of Catechumen, like how collecting

power-up scrolls cause actual Bible verses to pop up in the corners of the screen.

Or how it simplifies a rather meaningful and complex belief of many normal people

into “ZAP! You’re saved!” Indeed, it’s all there plus more, but that’s not what’s

under review.

First and foremost, if Catechumen can’t stand on its own as a game,

then no one will even pay attention to whatever cockamamie message is being

pushed. And this is one game that falls far, far short of being something fun

to play.

The story is more boring than Sunday school. The game is set in Roman times

right after the advent of Christianity. You play a nameless Catechumen, set

forth by an angel to free your imprisoned teacher, all the while “saving” Roman

minds from demon infestation. On your way into the depths of evil, you’ll convert

Roman soldiers, blast impish demons, and tip over lions. Every level or so,

that angel will return to give you a more powerful holy sword with which to

smite non-Christian things.

And that’s about it.

In today’s day and age, something more compelling than “drive out the demons

and save your teacher” is needed. Not just needed – but commanded! I’m no Bible

thumper, but the fact of the matter is that the good book is filled with tons

of kick-ass stories and all kinds of drama. Why not create an actual plot of

complexity and interest? In keeping with the theme, what about using a broader,

more approachable allegory? Something like those Narnia books by C.S. Lewis.

I mean, even the first Resident Evil had Bible verses! (Thou shalt eat braaaiiinnnsss…

– Ed.
)

This game engine is right out of the Old Testament. Interactivity with objects

is limited to the basest form of block-pushing puzzles. The level construction

is made up entirely of simple hallways and big rooms. Even the areas that are

purportedly outside are actually just rooms with sky painted ceilings. Da Vinci

is rolling over in his grave.

Objectives aren’t explained and often times you are left to complete the most

routine key/item retrieval missions ever. The gameplay philosophy hearkens back

to the classic heathen Doom – but worse.

Just take a look at the enemies and AI. Roman soldiers run towards you. “Rargh!

Look there! A Christian! Grrr.” Oh no. But with your little spirit sword in

hand, you shoot out blue bolts of pure Jesus energy. And miraculously, “Hallelujah”

is shouted out, and the Roman soldiers stop to pray, and the light shines down

upon them, and their lives are suddenly better, and the people rejoice. It’s

the funniest, kitschiest part of the game, just toeing the lines of absurdity

and offensiveness.

Between the light-sourcing cast down from heaven to the many forms of the

Hallelujah sound bite, it honestly feels like they’ve put more energy into the

Hallelujahs then anything else. Why they spend that time on the actual gameplay

is beyond my mortal comprehension.

Not only are the Romans after you, but so are the demons! Freaky impish things

with freaky sound effects. The AI here is incredibly basic, consisting mainly

of the demons running towards you in a satanic charge from hell. When you’re

within an enemy’s range, you’ll trigger its ‘search and destroy’ routine. You’re

left with a game flow that involves a lot of backing up and shooting rather

than trying to skillfully maneuver and fight.

The game

is visually off kilter just enough to give you this sharp pain right between

the eyebrows. Objects in the distance have the wrong degree of sharpness. The

rendered bitmaps are slightly blurry. And to add insult to it all, the animation

is limited to stick figure movements. When you kill a lion with all that holy

power, what does it do? It just tips over! I mean, making that lion stop and

pray would have been better than just tipping it over. Do lions believe in Jebus?

As if things weren’t weird enough, the music is terrifying. Most of the game

manages to turn out some generic action game music. Other times, you’ll get

B-movie demon sounds, evil rumblings from left to right. And then, for no reason

at all whatsoever, you’ll walk into a room and be blasted by HEAVY METAL. Were

the devils listening to their music before you came in and broke up their little

party? Paul is dead! Paul is dead! Ahhhh! Save me, Ozzy!

Catechumen keeps on sucking. Like when I try out the game on my home

computer and it simply refuses to work with my TNT card. Hath Satan wrought

the demons upon my graphics card? Nay. It just speaks of the need for more testing.

The way I see it, this game falls into a special little marketing niche. Take

a game with limited development and then have it approved by parent groups and

organizations against violence. And just like that, you’ll have something to

aim right at parents who want something nonviolent and “Christian” to give their

kids.

That’s all fine and good. I’m not reviewing their business practices, but

to take advantage of these attitudes only to sell such a weak game is just insulting.

I bet there were some really goodhearted people behind all this goodhearted

fragging. And sure, it might be possible to make a decent Christian video game.

As a Christian myself, that might be something to see. But it would have to

be deeper, more complex, and with a story less simplistically self-righteous

and more open to a broader audience. And most of all, make it fun to play.

Sadly, Catechumen is none of these things. The only thing saving it

from an F is our healthy fear of God. The 11th commandment: Thou shalt not play

sucky games. Can I get an amen?





REVOLUTION REPORT CARD

0.5
Rating
Hallelujahs!
Kitsch factor
AI? More like AIn't.
Gameplay from B.C.
Graphics from Hell
Could use a good exorcism.