Back in 1882 Nietzsche famously said: “God is dead […] And we have killed him.” Now, about 140 years later I think it’s safe to say: “Yup, he’s dead” and if not I’m pretty sure I am Jesus Christ Prologue will do the trick.
Released on December 1st, 2022 I am Jesus Christ Prologue is the first part and free-to-play demo of the upcoming game I am Jesus Christ. The game lets you step into the footsteps of the Son of God, relive his life and experience the miracles of Jesus, and oh boy, let me tell you it is definitely an experience.
Now let me preface this by saying I am not the most religious person. I’ve had my fair share of Sunday school and some Christian upbringing, but in general, the whole institution and belief system don’t really speak to me. There is, however, a part of me that finds the idea of Christian video games wildly entertaining, like for example Super 3D Noah’s Ark, which is basically a re-skinned version of the original Wolfenstein but instead of killing Nazis, you are Moses trying to wrangle the animals on the ark. So when I randomly stumbled upon this game while mindlessly clicking through Steam, I was hyped. Getting to play the miracles of Jesus Christ with some really janky-looking first-person gameplay sounded like a very fun time to me.
On the day of the release, I was ready, ready to be proselytized, ready to BE Jesus Christ, only to be greeted by an absolutely eardrum-shattering theme tune that, even if you turn it down to the lowest setting is still too loud. But I mean hey, maybe the main menu screen has a mistake in the code, the whole game is still in the beta release and maybe the gameplay itself isn’t so bad, right?
The game starts with a cut scene of the creation of life, various images of space, and the dinosaurs which are all accompanied by a narration of the Bible verse John 1:1 in the possibly worst audio quality I have ever heard in a game. The narrator continues and starts to tell Jesus’ story with Matthew 1:20 and Luke 2:7 as we see the classic nativity scenes we all know from Christmastime. Then suddenly the screen goes black (well actually not that sudden, the loading screens in between are all quite long), the text “30 years later…” appears on screen and we are thrust into the body of Jesus Christ, who has a vision that he should seek out John the Baptist to be baptized. The gameplay is pretty straightforward as it reminds gamers of other RPGs such as The Elder Scrolls games and consists mainly of walking around and talking to NPCs. If you are also into game development, you can immediately tell that this game was built in Unreal Engine, as it uses a lot of the default UI elements and assets.
After being baptized in another cut scene, you unlock the ability to pray by pressing “R” which is basically a reload for all your powers, health, and stamina. The story of Jesus continues as he sets out into the desert to test his beliefs and live in abstinence for forty days. This functions as a combat tutorial while being tempted by Satan’s offers and culminates into an actual boss battle against Satan himself. When successfully rejecting Satan and his temptations using your holy spirit projectiles(!), you are launched into a cut scene in the POV of Satan, in which he flies through Jerusalem/Nazareth damning you and the people and plotting his return almost like the Joker:
You won this time but this will not stop me. I will go everywhere in this land, I will go into every city into every corner of them. I will take my power and spread my darkness everywhere, to all homes, to every human, every soul. I will enter their bodies and put my diseases inside. I will boil their minds and put my demon servants inside them and then I will go to Jerusalem and I will tempt all citizens with my darkness and my sins, in such a way they will stop Jesus and kill him *laughs maniacally* He can’t stop me!
This sets up the whole world exploration as you then are able to remove Satan’s dark crystals throughout the map and claim the land by praying. In the current demo, I felt like this feature or gameplay mechanic was cut short but I am sure it will be expanded in the full release.
This seemed like a very good place for the demo to stop, but no, it just kept going on as you were now starting to play through the miracles of Jesus. In the demo are three playable miracles: the Miraculous catch of fish, the wedding at Cana, and the healing of the royal official’s son.
During the wedding at Cana, Jesus famously makes water to wine to help out with the festivities. To perform this action ingame you have to enter “Holy Spirit Mode” by pressing TAB. This turns you into a ghostly figure and you are able to turn the water into wine by simply clicking on it. Afterward, you are thanked by the groom of the wedding himself, who looks and sounds like a very white Polish bald man, which doesn’t necessarily seem historically accurate for the time.
The Healing of the royal official’s son caught me truly off guard in every way, shape and form. After talking to a Roman soldier who tells you his child is sick, you choose the healing ability in your Holy Spirit Mode and the game launches you into a cut scene where you fly in another POV-style (I genuinely think they reused the Satan cut scene) over the roofs of a city and enter into a home. Before you lies a boy on a table with his sad mother next to him. You then proceed to literally enter the boy’s body and find yourself inside his bloodstream with red blood cells passing you by. Now it is your task to actually walk around inside the boy and physically touch the viruses to eliminate them and fully heal the boy. Yeah, I was also very confused while playing this part.
Next to the weird gameplay and sometimes bad writing choices another thing that really bothered me is the audio. There were constant sound bugs and overlapping sounds which I’m sure will be patched out before the full release, but the overall audio quality was not great. Just like in the cut scenes, it seemed that every voice artist seemed to have recorded their lines on a different microphone. Generally, that isn’t bad, however, it is noticeable when the Polish groom in Cana sounds like it was recorded on a phone from 2005. Even though all these points do sound quite negative, you have to be grateful for one thing: They did not whitewash Jesus, because his skin tone looks orange, similar to Donald Trump’s “natural skin tone”.
But hey, I don’t want to just sit here, point my finger, and laugh at a game that some people probably worked hard on. The game was developed by the Polish studio “SimulaM” or “SimulaMaker” and marks their first-ever release. After being in development for over three years and funded on Kickstarter, fans of the Bible story can now finally be fully immersed. For all, it’s worth I can imagine that this game will definitely become a staple in areas such as rural midwestern USA and will be used to actually educate children about the teachings of Christ.
Although it is still unclear to me with which intention this game is being made, since the studio is pretty faceless and has a sketchy website, I can’t quite place if they too are devout Christians or are just cheaply trying to cash into a very specific marketing demographic. SimulaM CEO Maksym Vysochanskiy has stated that he is a Christian and claims he has “read the Bible four times in different translations” in preparation and “the readings made him eager to know more”. That being said, the game is trying to be as biblically accurate as possible, promising 30 amazing miracles, interacting with over 60 characters, including Christ’s disciples and recreating essential events like The Last Supper. But the game still caused a debate about blasphemy and offensiveness when it was announced back in 2019. Like I said earlier, I am not the most religious person, so I can safely say I was not offended by anything in the game. However, I can see how people who might take religion very seriously wouldn’t be so keen to take on the role of God’s Son himself.
I am Jesus Christ Prologue is a very raw and janky demo of a game that in itself still has a questionable concept. The game is currently free-to-play on Steam and presents about 90 minutes of content. I personally thought the experience was very fun and entertaining but also incredibly draining so I had to finish the thing in two attempts. In the end, I don’t really know what to think about the game. Will I get the game when it’s fully released? Probably not, but as you know:
“[…] nothing is impossible with God.”Luke 1:27