Parents' Guide to

The Church in the Darkness

By Chad Sapieha, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 16+

Players confront strange cult in provocative stealth game.

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What you will—and won't—find in this game.

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Players get to see -- and decide how to deal with -- the many sides of an extremist belief system in this unusual game. The Church in the Darkness does its best to establish the cultists as people who simply want freedom from American capitalism and the ability to pursue a progressive agenda without worry of persecution. But it's clear that the cult's leaders -- married couple Isaac and Rebecca -- are at least a little paranoid and have taken some things too far, locking up people who disobey them in cages and providing weapon training to devout disciples in an effort to create a militia. Still, most of the cultists believe in what they have to say about religious freedom and moral authority, and are happy to have escaped what they perceive to be the evil of the United States. Even the young man you've been sent to find seems content living in the commune. That makes choosing whether and when to use force a difficult decision, especially since Isaac and Rebecca's personalities can change between each playthrough. Understanding their motives and objectives can alter how you perceive the camp.

Assuming you want to learn as much as you can before resorting to murdering cultists, you'll need to be sneaky. Playing on lower difficulty settings allows you to see the viewing range of guards and cultists, letting you know precisely how to avoid detection (though that doesn't necessarily mean it's easy). If you decide to resort to violence, be prepared for a slightly wonky targeting system that could result in plenty of wasted bullets, as well as a potentially greater challenge in accomplishing your objectives. The game's short length, differing leader personalities, and variety of endings encourage players to experiment with their use of both stealth and force, though you can expect diminishing narrative returns as the camp collectibles -- pamphlets, newspaper articles, and notes -- are recycled from one game to the next. The Church in the Darkness is a bold experiment with ambitious storytelling goals, most -- but not all -- of which are eventually achieved.

Game Details

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