PSX 2016 – The Church in the Darkness Preview – A Mystery to Solve (PS4)

Nestled away near the corner of Sony’s annual PlayStation Experience sat Paranoid Productions’ booth. They showcased their upcoming “action-infiltration” game, The Church in the Darkness. We went hands-on with the game while at PSX 16, and have our preview of this intriguing game below.

Inspired by Reality

In The Church in the Darkness, you play as Vic, a retired law enforcement officer. Your sister’s son has become tied up in a cult which has moved all its inhabitants to the jungles of South Africa, where they are attempting to create a socialist utopia. If this sounds like the story of Jonestown, well, you wouldn’t be that far off. Then again, perhaps everything is just fine, as your nephew claims in the postcard he sent his mother. Either way, it’s your job to find out what’s really going on.

The Church in the Darkness is played from a top-down perspective, zoomed out quite a bit so that you can really take in your surroundings. While you can pick up weapons such as rifles and pistols, it is probably in your best interests to not use them unless absolutely necessary, because the community is rather militant.

The fun and challenge will really kick in with multiple playthroughs of the game. Each session should take approximately two hours or so. Each time, however, the church may or may not be sinister after all. It’ll be up to you to determine whether or not you should extract your nephew from the community. The layout of the camp and beliefs of the residents change every time you play the game.

This Was a (Bloody Bogan) Triumph

The Church in the Darkness features some high-caliber voice acting talent. Real-life married couple Ellen McLain (GLaDOS from Portal!) and John Patrick Lowrie (the Sniper from Team Fortress 2!) provided the voices of the cult leaders, Rebecca and Isaac Walker, respectively. Their voices come in loud and strong on the village’s PA system, and what they say is just as important as the literature you’ll find strewn about the area in figuring out what the cult’s true motives are. This may include finding the same card with a picture of a leader on it, but those cards might have words such as “LIAR” or “ADULTERER” scribbled on them, presumably from someone who’s not having such a great time in this supposed utopia. These mementos, coupled with various declarations from the leaders, help you determine if the cult is up to something nefarious or not.

Actual gameplay takes a backseat to narrative in The Church in the Darkness. We played through the demo on its Normal difficulty setting, and I never triggered the alarm by being spotted by a cult member. As I moved from house to house, the roofs would become transparent, allowing me to see inside. I could then raid various storage containers, which would contain useful items such as guns, ammunition, and villager disguises. These clothes would allow me to walk around the town a little more freely, as it shrunk the cultists’ cone of vision considerably. Essentially, the game is a mystery game, and it’s up to you to pick up all the clues and figure out if this cult is a serious problem, or just a seriously different way of living.

The Church in the Darkness has a unique premise, and what we saw at PSX 16 was promising. It’ll be interesting to see just how subtly evil a community can be, and where Paranoid Productions takes their concept. The Church in the Darkness has a tentative release timeframe of Quarter 1, 2017.