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December 2023

I Am Jesus Christ

Platform(s): PC
Genre: Action/Adventure
Publisher: PlayWay
Developer: SimulaM
Release Date: Q2 2023


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PC Preview - 'I Am Jesus Christ'

by Cody Medellin on Dec. 1, 2022 @ 6:00 a.m. PST

Walk in the footsteps of Jesus in this incredible first-person retelling of the story of Christ from birth to resurrection.

For the most part, games based on the life or character of Jesus come off as bland. You'll mostly get quizzes about the figure, but nothing approaches what can be considered a modern game. For a time, it seems as if the only real games based on Jesus are of parodies, like Fist of Jesus. I Am Jesus Christ is the first serious attempt at retelling the tale of the major religious figure in video game form. We checked out the prologue that's scheduled to arrive in December and came away both impressed and stunned at what was on display.

The video introduction tells you of the birth of Jesus by way of biblical scripture. You'll have to get used to this method of storytelling, as the game conveys a major part of the narrative via both scripture from the gospels as well as full-on cut scenes with a few liberties here and there.

The first playable section skips the first 30 years of Jesus' life and starts things off when he visits John the Baptist. The game plays out mostly like a walking simulator as you go around town trying to locate John the Baptist. What's surprising is that the game provides a good mix of people who like and hate John, so it isn't positive all of the time. Once you learn of John's location, you have to go back home and rest before going out again.

The second part of the John the Baptist quest emulates a survival game. You now have an energy meter that depletes slowly, and to fill it up, you need to gather and eat berries. You need to have that meter topped off before you can see the marker to lead you to John. Not doing that means you'll wander around the large forest around the Jordan River while discovering the level boundaries. Once you find John, you get baptized, enter a prayer state, and head off to fast in the desert.

The next chapter of the game takes place when Jesus fasts for 40 days in the desert. You make your way to prayer circles so an angel can teach you how to fight. Fighting consists of you using one hand to pull the enemy closer with a tractor beam and another hand to reflect the balls of energy being hurled at you. Both of the moves consume mana, which can only be refilled if you hold down the prayer button. This culminates in a fight against Satan, as represented by another fiery ball of light. Combat is clunky in its current state, so hopefully you won't encounter much of it in the full game.

The final part of the game we were able to see takes place in the fishing village of Bethsaida. It opens with you finding the dark gems placed there by Satan and casting them away before staying to cleanse the area of his evil influence. Much like the combat, it works as a gameplay hook.

The next part of the game has you seeking Peter and his brother Andrew. To get them to join you, you need to help them catch fish by luring them to the nets. Unfortunately, this is where the demo ends because the prompt calls for you to hit the Tab key, but that doesn't work. Hitting every other key does nothing, except for Esc, which brings up the pause menu. Getting out of this makes the game repeat all of the level's previous dialogue. Considering that the demo restarts when you reboot, we stopped here as well.

The presentation is also surprising in a number of ways. The music is fine, as it is going for something that's airy for cut scenes, while silence permeates most of the gameplay. The voice acting during the gospel readings is good, even if the actor seems to be going for a Morgan Freeman vibe, and the rest of the cast is decent. Graphically, the environments feature uninteresting buildings and the extensive use of brown, but when there's vegetation, it's lush and wonderful. One thing to note is that you'll really need to turn down whatever you can to get a good frame rate if you aren't using top-of-the-line hardware. There is no medium option, only two different types of low and two different types of high. If anything, people might still be interested in checking out the demo, as this seems to be an Unreal Engine 5 game (as indicated by a crash report).

At the moment, you'll need to do a good amount of work to make it function on the Steam Deck. Due to the game's alpha state, load times are long. When you finally reach the chapter select screen, you'll realize that you need to map a button to Enter to go anywhere, and further mapping is needed to do anything that isn't basic movement, like opening the inventory or cleansing the area of dark gems. You'll also need to map mouse sensitivity via the system, as the look assigned to the right stick can feel too squirrely to use. Until an official configuration arrives, it's best to not use Valve's machine for this title.

I Am Jesus Christ sits in a weird state at the moment. As a concept, it does a very good job of getting people interested in the idea of playing through the life of Jesus. The fact that it does this by cobbling together all sorts of ideas to make it a mishmash of genres makes it intriguing because you have no idea where the gameplay will go next. However, the lack of polish and presence of at least one progression stopper means that even the demo isn't quite ready for the public unless the bugs are quickly patched. We are really curious to see how the final game turns out when it releases in 2023.

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