PAX East 2017: Infiltrate a Creepy Cult in Stealth-Action Indie The Church in the Darkness [Preview]Sarah LeBoeuf |
One lesson from this year’s PAX East: sneaking into a cult is hard. We tried to be stealthy. We tried disguises. We tried outright violence. All attempts ended in either capture or death. And we just kept trying.
In Paranoid Productions’ The Church in the Darkness, you’re looking for a missing relative who’s joined up with what appears to be an extremist group calling themselves the Collective Justice Mission. It takes place in 1970s South America, and if that sounds eerily familiar, it’s because The Church in the Darkness is partially inspired by the infamous Jonestown cult of Guyana, which ended in the murder and mass suicide of over 900 people.
The Collective Justice Mission purports to be a peaceful cause, with its founders promising understanding and a place to belong in a socialist utopia (that they then named Freedom Town, because cult leaders are apparently super literal). The letters sent home from members make it seem like everything’s fine—they’re living off the land and making friends! But something’s off. So you head down to South America and try to find your nephew.
Unfortunately, Freedom Town is crawling with armed leaders who aren’t very friendly to outsiders poking around. Each enemy has a visible field of view, and it’s best to avoid detection, at least at first. Sneaking into shacks and going through the cult’s belongings will help you find supplies, weapons, and outfits to make you less conspicuous. Once you dress like other members of the CJM, their fields of vision decrease dramatically, making it a bit easier to move freely.
Stealth is supposed to be just one option in The Church in the Darkness, but we found that any attempts to go in guns blazing ended poorly. Even if you manage to find a weapon and enough ammo to shoot a few guards, you’ll more than likely be overwhelmed by others within seconds. Alternately, you can sneak up behind people and choke them until they’re either unconscious or dead. Unconscious enemies will get back up, but if the cult finds a bunch of corpses in your wake, they’re more likely to shoot you on sight.
Because of the urgency a half-hour PAX appointment creates, we weren’t nearly patient enough when exploring Freedom Town, and more than once had to restart the randomly generated game, finding our way around all over again. Despite the failure, we couldn’t stop thinking about The Church in the Darkness for days after we played it. The small hints of the larger cult mystery we were able to dig up only whetted our appetite for more. Where’s the missing relative? What is this religious group up to? What’s really going on in South America?
We don’t have the answers yet, but we’re going to find out.
The Church in the Darkness launches on PC, PS4, and Xbox One later this year.