Procedural Cult Infiltration: The Church In The Darkness

Newly-announced top-down stealth game The Church in the Darkness [official site] will see a former cop infiltrating a suicide cult’s Jonestown-y compound – by stealth, by persuasion, by force – to rescue his nephew from the influence of charismatic leaders played by Ellen McLain and John Patrick Lowrie (Portal’s GLaDOS and TF2’s Sniper).

Or maybe it won’t. Maybe they’re not a suicide cult. Maybe they’re fine and happy, and you’re a monster. The Church in the Darkness is procedurally generated, see, and each run will change people’s allegiances and beliefs as well as obvious things like the camp layout. Sounds interesting, dunnit?

The official word explains:

“The Church in the Darkness combines unique narrative with tight top-down action-infiltration gameplay in an open-ended environment. As Vic, an ex-law enforcement officer, you travel to South America to get into Freedom Town and check on your nephew, Alex. Play how you want – you can avoid detection completely, take on the guards using non-lethal methods, or kill anyone who gets in your way. But you’ll have to live with the consequences of those choices.”

“Every playthrough offers unique gameplay scenarios and story elements, with different character personalities and a shifting narrative told through investigation and action. How dangerous are the Walkers? Who are your allies and enemies? How far will you go to uncover the truth and save these people?”

Oh, I’m certainly up for that. And I’m definitely up for McLain and Lowrie gabbing over the camp’s speakers, though… they’re great voice actors, but as a pair I do think of them as the goofy married couple they are at conventions. They’re helping on the soundtrack too.

The Church in the Darkness is the work of Richard Rouse III, designer and writer of The Suffering, and his Paranoid Productions. It’s due on Windows and Mac in early 2017. For now, have a ‘teaser’ trailer:

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17 Comments

  1. Skeletor68 says:

    Ooh!

  2. ran93r says:

    Not seeing much stealth there, just a lot of running around with people shooting at you.

    I dunno, will need a bit more convincing than the trailer can give.

    • April March says:

      That’s pretty much how stealth works when I’m the one playing.

  3. photoheathen says:

    This makes me want a Cult Camp Builder game more than a stealth-infiltration game. I want to be the cult leader, recruit members, build up the camp, then commit mass suicide because a nearby comet is going to take us all away to Valhalla.

    Ok, maybe not all that, but I do want the building part.

  4. Balthasar42 says:

    So, they espouse socialism but they’re big into that ol’ time religion? That’s wacky.

    Also share photoheathen’s desire for Startopia-type Cult Camp Builder…

    • dethtoll says:

      Religion at its core can be very, very collectivist. It’s just that modern American Christianity is very, very corporatist.

      • AndreasBM says:

        The problem is that socialism in its very core is hostile to any kind of religion. I think it was Marx who originally said that about religion being opium for the masses.

        • Premium User Badge

          teije says:

          One variant of
          socialism does not speak for
          all in history

        • AlexClockwork says:

          Socialism is hostile to having religions embedded into the state, as the state must be secular in order not to use religion for its own interests or to serve the interests of specific religions. It has nothing against religions per se.

    • Hmm-Hmm. says:

      Apparently people being both religious and socialist are an aberration now? Of course it depends on how you apply socialism (and religion), I suppose.

      Regardless, reality is usually far more flexible than most (or all) theories and philosophies.

      Markx may have seen religion as opiate for the masses and, in some cases, he may certainly be correct. But that’s not necessarily the foundation of such religions and it’s a very easy way to discard religions and people.

  5. Premium User Badge

    KRVeale says:

    Awww. I got extra-specially excited when I thought that Richard Rouse III had been one of the people behind THE ULTIMATE GAME: Star Control 2.

    But no, I confused myself and was thinking of Paul Reich III. Whoops.

  6. tiltaghe says:

    “The Church in the Darkness will see a former cop infiltrating a suicide cult’s Jonestown-y compound – by stealth, by persuasion, by force – to rescue his nephew from the influence of charismatic leaders”

    The pitch is super interesting, got True Detective cross Ron Hubbard vibes from it, captures my imagination quite a bit.

    I would have liked it to focus on the ‘persuasion’ aspect, ‘infiltrating’ as in undercover… with the action left for the most climactic, revealing moments. Alice’s pitch makes it better than it seems :P Judging by the trailer, the mechanics don’t convey much about the player’s role in the tale.

    This is just another direction, by no means better, but I wouldn’t have painted the cult as this sort of political, Andrew Ryan style, conflicted and vehement about society’s wrongs. I would focus on the human part in the leaders, ala Kurtz or Ron Hubbard, fascinating, charismatic, flawed figures who deep down wants something far more simple that what they display and control.

  7. AlphaLyrae says:

    This is why I love you guys at RPS. This game is barely Google-able, yet I found out about it thanks to your wonderful gaming journalism.

    I can’t wait to try it. I love procedurally generated games, and this sounds like a hell of a concept.

  8. Solidstate89 says:

    The only thing that trailer made me realize is how badly I now want an Evil Genius/Tropico style game where you have to successfully run your own cult.

  9. Syrion says:

    I think it looks like the gameplay might be relatively free to how you want to play it, with stealth being an option, but probably not that interesting to show much of in a 100 seconds long trailer.

    Having played and 100% completed the terrific “top-down tactical stealth-action game” Space Marshals on my phone, I know that kind of mix between stealth and action can be really fun if done right. In the trailer it still looks very unrefined, but with a year to go before release this has heaps of potential.

  10. NephilimNexus says:

    Game company will be bought out by the Church of Scientology and game shelved. This article, along with any other records of it’s existence, will mysteriously disappear a week later.