SAINTS OF VIRTUEReviewed By: Rick Casteel
VOLUNTEER GUEST REVIEWER
Genre: Christian Action
For a secular game to be touted as “Revolutionary”, "Ground breaking", or get “Game of the Year” accolades it usually introduces some new level of graphics or artificial intelligence to the gaming scene that others will soon be imitating. In the arena of Christian related PC gaming, a more challenging issue has been developing a game to compete with those in the secular market for game play excitement, yet get across a Godly message. Unfortunately, most of the titles CG's (Christian gamers) have had to choose from have been as enticing as reading an encyclopedia and based on generations old technology (by computing standards) and dated graphics. That has begun to change with the publishing of Saints of Virtue by Shine Studios. Shine has developed what will be the “the Christian Gamer Game of the Year” to beat in 1999! SOV has taken the typical 1st person “shooter” game experience, mixed in some mazes and puzzles and managed to deliver exciting game play and a Biblical message at the same time!
Shine has created a virtual world where the player does battle with Evil forces attempting to control the human heart and mind. The game takes place in a huge set of four “worlds” that are all analogous to our own. In each area, the forces of Evil attempt to stop your mission to find truth. The enemies are symbolized by large, floating masks and represent attitudes that defeat us as Christians in real life. Fear, Worldliness, Self-Righteousness, Self-Indulgence and Legalism are some of the antagonist along the way.
Along with the enemies you face, the player must navigate through many mazes in their search for the truth. The loud and confusing “Media Maze” and the ultimately empty “Mall of Distractions” are some you will find in section one. Your objective is to find the “Scrolls of Truth” to counter the "Worldly Wisdom's" blocking your way to the exit switches hidden throughout the various levels. Later levels find you in increasingly more difficult and devious areas such as the “turnstile” maze. In this area, you walk into a square room with four doors across from one another. As you enter, the room spins and the player looses all sense of the direction they were heading! I spent several hours in this area before some helpful hints assisted me through. A list of hints can be found at the Saints of Virtue web site at www.saintsofvirtue.com
The genre of the game is a first person action or some might say “Shooter”. Our hero does use the “Sword of the Spirit” to shoot at his enemies. As such, the action consists of energy bursts that project at the enemy who, in like fashion shoots back at you. Once dispatched, they end up vaporizing in a smoky blur. In the game environment the actions are cartoon-ish down to the laser gun sound and the demise of the bad guys. It keeps with its premise of using the Armor of God to defeat the enemy and doesn't promote blasting away to solve problems. No adult situations will be found in the game.
The game engine is admittedly a few generations old. I was dismayed to find I couldn't use the mouse to look around vertically but could use a game pad to map buttons to produce this action. The game pad is definitely the way to go in navigating the game. The graphics are not what you will find in the latest game in the secular market, either. But both these factor were quickly forgotten as I got immersed in the objective of the game. As a Christian, I quickly related to the task and threat at hand and found myself eager to work through the entire mission. I pray that this game will get the attention it deserves and producers will look to putting resources toward more Christian related titles.Christian based games are going to have a new standard set by which to gage their level of interactivity and play-ability. The message and context of the game is solidly Christian. As such it receives our first (but we pray not only) score of 5+ in the category of Christian/Moral perspective. We pray SOV starts a trend in the game development community by showing a game with a Godly message can be effective and fun.
Year of Release—1999
Oh dear… Well At least it ranks the same as most other Christian games, linear and predictable. You could imagine my excitement apon seeing the game on the rather limited Christian software shelf at my local Christian store (not that there is many of them going about up in the forgotten land of Scotland). Imagine my disappointment after trying the game. Packaging is unprofessional, don't ever put “finally a cool computer game for Christians” it's like marketing suicide not to mention very …well un-cool. Might I add I am NOT refering to the fact it openly tells us its a Christian game, but because it says it's cool, you want, people to know that you let the reviewers comments tell people, the game should sell itself. The engine is too out of date even for a shareware game, and the years of development just doesn't show. The characters have a limited “search and destroy” AI, and not very challenging levels. Theres no originality in this game you can't escape the whole armour of God thing, yes a good idea, but the armour of God isn't a midievil knight ALL the time. weapons, nil. Again can't escape the sword, there's no harm in imagining some heavenly artillery. The developers obviously became obsessed with “family” entertainment which means -13 for parents peace of mind. There is a fun factor to think of, and originality too. This game lacks a lot, the main thing is a good game and proves to the mainstream market we cannot be original and appealing to teenagers. My Ratings: [4/1]
—Ian Buchanan, age 17
This is one of my favorite games. Oh, by the way, you want to know why the graphics aren't that great? That's because they started a few years ago on this game, when this was the best people had to offer. That's right, Shine Studios spent YEARS on this game to make it the best they could. Plus, the soundtrack is the best I've heard in any game I've ever played! I think the graphics are something that might make people less excited about the game, but once you get into it, it's a blast! My Ratings: [5/4]
I have to commend Shine Studios for what they are trying to accomplish. The article was dead-on about the fact that most Christian games nowadays have out-dated game engines and graphics and have the gameplay to match. While although the engine used for this game is rather reminiscent of games like Doom or Duke Nukem, the guys did a great job with what they had (there's a new version of the game engine that they used out on the market, and it looks incredible…let's pray for more stuff from these guys)! But the real treat was the actual gameplay. Normally I don't go for first-person games for one reason or another. But I was truly drawn into the game because I knew it really related to my life and what spirits come after me. Also, something that is not typical of a first-person shooter is the fact that it's VERY thought-provoking and you catch yourself really churching to think your way through the levels. This game is a must have for any Christian gamer, and a definite good time for the non-Christian. It teaches and at the same times is incredibly fun. I recommend this game highly. Thank you, and God bless.
I feel this is very refreshing to have the opportunity to input “good” things into young peoples' minds… the world is so full of violence and hate… What excellent timing for this game to be introduced… with all the violence in the schools… An answer to prayer? I think so…
Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in this Christian Spotlight review are those of the reviewer (both ratings and recommendations), and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Films for Christ or the Christian Answers Network.