The Church in the Darkness has been pitched as an “action-infiltration” game based on a real-life cult since its announcement. But even though what we knew of it was colorful—far-left radicalist group in the 70s moves to Latin America to create a socialist utopia, goes full cult—we still didn’t know much at all. The game would include some element of stealth, but there would be options on how to play it, and you would never be forced into combat. The moral status of the Collective Justice Mission’s leadership would remain in question, and could even change from playthrough to playthrough. Until now, that’s all we knew.
Released late last week, The Church in the Darkness’s first video footage shows the stealth mechanisms that you can take advantage of in order to infiltrate Freedom Town. One cheeky move shows the player winding up an alarm clock and tossing it into the road in order to distract guards. You can also take advantage of open houses and the shadows cast on the ground to make sneaking easier. Though many stealth games are first-person and rely heavily on patience and precise timing to get past enemies, the overhead view of The Church in the Darkness also allows spur-of-the-moment tactical planning, as you can see both the guards that approach you and the possible avenues of escape.
However, The Church in the Darkness does apparently sport multiple play styles, and combat is also possible. The player character does have a gun, though it’s best reserved for a last resort as the noise will draw the attention of enemies. Lethal takedowns are also possible, both stealthy and overt. However, an attack-oriented character must be wary of their surroundings: the player character is relatively vulnerable, and the video shows the player mobbed and captured with ease after a gunshot attracted a crowd.
The most interesting part of The Church in the Darkness is still its backwoods cult setting. We catch a glimpse of a postcard from the main character’s nephew; the catalyst for the plot and objective of our infiltration. Throughout the new video, Freedom Town’s charismatic leader Isaac Walker is mentioned multiple times and later shows up to threaten the captured player. A defaced devotional card with of Isaac, “LIAR” and “ADULTERER” scribbled over his face, is later found in a chest in an empty house. Out in the forest, a clearing has “HELP US” stenciled out in sticks, to be seen from above. Even such a brief glimpse of the game reeks of its unique character and the air of mystery that The Church in the Darkness has been cultivating all along.
We still have a while until The Church in the Darkness is released in 2017, but it will have a demo at PAX West. You can watch the first gameplay video here and check out its website for more.