[Note: Subscription to this game was provided free of charge by BuzzPlant in exchange for an honest review.]
Although many people would not likely consider me to be an obvious choice to play a game designed for 10-12 year olds, it happened that I was invited to play a new game designed for Christian audiences youth. As someone who enjoys playing games, and this one qualifies as an MMO (a Massively Multiplayer Online game like World of Warcraft) , I suppose I am a more appropriate reviewer for this project than would initially be assumed. At any rate, the game is designed as a way of teaching biblical stories, most of them focused on the story of Abraham . Rather than an ancient history world, the story of Abraham is reinterpreted in a fashion that makes it highly inventive—the universe is a steampunk one where the preincarnate Jesus Christ is portrayed as a mysterious scarlet man, an absent chief engineer whose world is being taken over by an evil ruler called “Lucky” and his supporting automatons, and where the player character is sent from another world via a high-tech machine. It seems like the sort of setup that would appeal to a younger audience and those adults who, like myself, remain somewhat young at heart.
The mechanics of the game are straightforward. Although the first part of the game is free, one can only get to about level 4 or so before one has to begin “Chapter One,” which involves the recruitment of an intelligent but somewhat disorganized tinkerer. The player has certain terrain that can be traveled at certain times, and require the completion of quests and game events to open up other areas or gain access to fighting harder enemies. Characters are completely healed after each battle and can run when a battle is too tough. Throughout the game and as a result of leveling and doing certain quests there are various plans that require certain components to construct, which can be obtained both through battles (where components are given for victory) as well as found on the map screen to be obtained by observant players. Constructing plans requires that a player have all of the components, which are put together by the player button mashing when it is “Hammer Time,” an amusing in-joke that many players are likely to be a bit too young to get, we hope. Fights are cooperative, and up to three players can participate in random encounters that occur on the map. Some of the quests are a bit hard to figure out, but the various NPCs (Non-player characters) are often helpful in providing hints and information to guide the player along. Leveling up requires the completion of quests, which require investigation, map and character interaction, object creation, and sometimes battle, as there are no experience points. Enemies are thoughtfully designed to require a balanced approach of attack. The game is well made, with gorgeous rendered graphics and a compelling storyline, and one that is a bit simpler in its demands than many games, suitable for younger players as a first MMO.
That is not to say, though, that the game is above criticism. The map at times, with a fixed third person perspective, makes it hard for the player to see where they are when interacting, for example, with crash scenes and areas obscured by buildings or statues. At least while I was playing the game, there was a fair amount of lag and I was frequently kicked off of the server, sometimes during battle. This will be a significant problem unless enough server architecture is provided to ensure smooth gameplay. Although the game offers a view of believing and following God as being resistance in a world dominated by evil, the view of C.S. Lewis in Mere Christianity, it should be noted, it is likely that parents will have to explain the religious symbolism of the story, which offers an opportunity for Bible study in an inventive and unusual way. Other characters represent biblical people (like Deborah, for example) outside of the main storyline that open up the exploration beyond its main narrative. The result is a worthwhile game that has some flaws but that represents both an achievement in daring apologetics as well as satisfying gameplay.
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