XENOGEARSReviewed By: Stan Alvide
VOLUNTEER GUEST REVIEWER
Genre: Roleplaying Game (RPG)
You play as a character named Fei, who has forgotten his past. You learn more about it as you progress. And like most RPGs you walk around towns collecting information and wander the world fighting battles in human form, or in your large robots known as gears.
Squaresoft has been known for some wonderful titles ("Mystic Quest" and “Final Fantasy VII” were some of my favorites), and if you step out of the Christian state of mind and view “Xenogears” as a work of complete fiction (like reading a novel), then it is a wonderful game plot-wise. But you cannot overlook the fact that the plot is utterly disturbing—to kill God.
The game makes multiple allusions to the bible (the first lines of text in the game are a direct passage), but the problem lies within the fact that the ideas from the bible are twisted to appear evil. One such example is at one point in the game when a young boy's faith is shattered when he discovers the church he had devoted his life to turns out to be nothing more than a front for a hidden government to control the people. And late in the game you find yourself fighting seraphs and an entity known as Deus. A young Fei is also seen covered in blood. While the story is captivating, it can be detrimental to impressionable minds. “Xenogears” would better be rated as “Mature”.
While the fight for freedom from evil is there, much of the game content and message is offensive to Christians.
Year of Release—1998
I'm curious if you people actually play through the entire game and pay attention before posting a review. I'll agree it does take some passages from the bible, and has a lot of biblical figures, but COME ON. You say "this game is about killing god". If you paid attention, you would know that **SPOILER** “God” is a supreme weapon created by another race. The reason it is called god is that it created the life on the planet where it is worshipped. You also say heavy sexual content. Um, so naked people always has to have a sexual over/undertone? I'll admit there is some, and there is a bit of blood, mainly in the beginning, and I guess what you could call violence. But you also say this game makes direct blows at the church. I highly doubt this game means to give any kind of put down on the church. Just because this game had a religion theme, doesn't mean they are putting down religion. While the Japanese people may not be Christians, they are a very religious people. I doubt their intention was to attack the teachings of another religion. The story was immerse, well written, intricate, and kept you in suspense. My Ratings: [5/5]
—Andrew, age 20
Positive—As an avid role-playing gamer, I enjoyed Xenogears for the most part. The story, graphics, battle system and characters are all wonderfully done. But of all the games I've played, Xenogears is the only one that offended me, if only a bit. As a Catholic Christian, I was a bit shocked to see certain scenarios, particularly the ones having to do with the corrupt church. This is arguably the most controversial game Square has released in North America. Actually, the game almost wasn't released here due to its heavy religious overtones. I would only recommend this game to those who are over 18 and firm in their beliefs. The plot is VERY confusing and younger players who don't fully understand it may misinterpret its meaning. Thanks to the previous reviewers who helped me clear up some misunderstandings I had with the plot! But like they also stated, there is good in this game, but I think it can be hard for novice gamers to find. My Ratings: [2/5]
Umm… This was an interesting experience. The game, like Diablo, feigns a certain amount of religion, but as the game goes on, you find out it's really more irreligious. When a priest finds out his “Church” is a front for duping the people, it sounds awfully like the criticism everyone spouts of the Catholic Church. Whereas Church servants can misuse their power in real life, the fact remains that God is behind the Real Church, and their actions go against him. In the game however, you end up fighting “god” who was a created being (the real God was never Created, He always was) to be the ultimate weapon. A "Wave Existence", a slightly nicer thing which could be considered “God”, is selfish and weak… all of this defies reality. To top it off, there's a lot of immodesty. So to sum it up, I enjoyed it a lot (Chuchu forever! :), but I probably shouldn't have played it… and the blasphemous way it misused God's Word and Church was quite disappointing. :( My Ratings: [1/5]
I'd like to present a slightly different opinion about Xenogear's relationship to Christianity and “God” as presented within the game. While the game inarguably DOES have the final goal of killing a being which equates itself as God, calls itself Deus, and believed to be God by the entire world. And there is indeed also a false religion as
described in Mr. Alvide's review. I should warn that this comment reveals quite a few key details of the game's plot. On the other hand, there is also another being in the game best described as a part of God, or perhaps an Angel (known in the game as the "Wave Existence"). Unlike Deus, this being is described as being part of the being responsible for the creation of the game's universe, and if the source of all power (good or evil- both Deus and the heroes and even the “Gears,” the giant fighting machines in the game, have this being as the source of their power) used in the game. Thus, this being would be a
better analogy to the Christian concept of God in the game. The game's characters attack and destroy Deus partly at the command of this being (though they would have anyways). As well, there is also a second church (the "Nisan Church") in the game which, unlike the other church in the game, is a genuine faith. The Nisan Church's beliefs are not made clear in the game. This church may be seen as either offensive or positive in Christian eyes because of the fact that one of the game's characters in equated with being the Nisan Faith's equivalent of Jesus- I'll let individuals decide for themselves if this is a positive reinforcement of Christian values or simply inappropriate for themselves. Xenogears can probably be seen as offensive in terms of its often overblown attempt to work Christianity into a game setting without properly understanding it. I doubt many or all of the people who worked on the game knew much about Christianity (think of what Xena would look like as seen through the eyes of a scholar of Greek and Roman mythology, and you'll get an idea of how accurate Xenogears is). However, so long as you pay attention to the key points in the plot, you will realize that it is not as intentionally offensive as Mr. Alvide found it. If you intend for your children to play it, it would probably be best to play with them and talk with them about how your faith is presented in the game (as well as
the violence in the game. To be honest, this game is not really suitable for pre-teens, and some may even say for older children than that). As stated below, I am not myself Christian, but believe that I know enough about the Christian faith to be able to *partially* interpret Xenogears from a Christian viewpoint. My Ratings: [3/4]
There is a large problem with your critique of XG. While it does have deep religious overtones, your statement that the point of the game is to “kill God” is mistaken and shows a true misunderstanding of the game's plot. The “God” is really nothing more than a (spoiler) large weapon sent to invade and conquer other planets. It is worshipped as a god in the game by many people, but none know the truth--that the weapon is a false godhead that peopled the planet the game takes place on (not through any divine creation, but through stores of banked ova) in order for a civilization to arise and repair it so it could move on and complete it's sinister objective of conquering the galaxy. In this sense, the “slayer of God” thing was a tease INTENTIONALLY designed to get the Christian community upset. While the game attacks certain aspects of faith, or the results of faith being corrupted by or used for evil intentions, it is not anti-religious in nature. My Ratings: [3/4]
I have to disagree with the review too. First, although the game says that it is about 'killing god' it is not. DEUS is NOT god. NOT at all. DEUS is a man-made being, created by humans as an all-powerful weapon. Thus the name, and thus the thing about 'angels'. Naming them 'angels' is only logical. After all, the angels are the fighters for god, and thus, the games' 'ANGELS' are named like that. It is just right to destroy DEUS; it is like destroying the golden calv. Moses, remember? Second, it does indeed attack church. Not the whole church, but the part of it collecting art and money which DOES exist as a fact. Also the church had very very nasty things in their past. The inquisition was a lie. A LIE. Most who were burned had no reason to attack Christianity. It was pure history. Nothing more. THAT the game attacks. However, it also shows an ideal church. NISAN IS the model of an ideal church and in fact it teaches the true meaning of Christianity. The ETHOS is not a real church, it took this holy attitude later on. And somehow this resembles the history of a certain organisation. But today is different, there is a different church. And that church should be like Nisan. The game shows a lot of good reasons for religions, but also shows the danger of it if greedy people get into clerical power, what happened in history as a fact. Thus, the author of the first review could not have understood the game, else he would have known who DEUS really was. The message of Xenogears is truly a positive one, both for religion and moral. My Ratings: [4/5]
As someone who spent over 110 hours playing this masterpiece I feel qualified to judge this game. Xenogears is a game which tells the story of a young man who has no past and his epic quest to learn the truth. He learns the truth of his existence, the truth of his people and the truth of the universe. However as we all know, the truth is not always what we want to believe, Fei discovers the truth to religion, and is is not pretty. He finds church officials abusing their power, (I can't count how many times this has happened in real life) he finds the church collaborating with the government for the greater evil, (The Catholic church during World War 2 did not publicly speak out against the Nazis and in fact helped the Nazis by giving them Vatican visas). So you see, a lot of things that you find objectionable have happened in real life…
Having been raised in a Christian home an even pursued some religious studies in college - I personally find Xenogears very enjoyable. If you are firm in you faith AND enjoy being intellectually challenged and stimulated…you will love Xenogears. If your faith is fleeting and merely a platform to be a part of society (a Sunday bench warmer) then you might find Xenogears philosophically challenging. It will put to you some serious questions about where your faith comes from. Is it inspired because you think you should feel and act this way…or have you had a personal experience and now have a personal relationship with Christ? Xenogears is not anti-christian and not anti-religion. Yes one of the many churches in the game has a “catholic” type model…but in the telling of a story, you have to draw on things that are real so that people understand. If you love good literature. If you've read books like Milton's Paradise Lost, and Dante's Inferno, then you'll love Xenogears. If you believe video games are pure evil and that imagination comes from the devil (note sarcasm there), then you shouldn't play this game. My Ratings: [4/5]
…The interesting thing about XG is that it would appear to be saying something negative about religion, but the truth is, I think this is one of the best stories a Christian could possibly experience to best understand themselves better as a religious person. …Xenogears is a very interesting perspective on religion, I don't necessarily agree with it, but its worth hearing just because it shows you aspects of yourself as a religious person. You see, Xenogears isn't like most games, it isn't even like most RPGs, whereas a lot of games concentrate mainly on gameplay and action, Xenogears concentrates almost exclusivley on its elaborate story. In fact there are scenes where you will find yourself watching dialouge for at least 2 hours, and the general gist of this games' story would be that religion isn't an ends in and of itself. I didn't think that I agreed with that till I finished it. Its REALLY saying that "Love is an end to its own means but pretending to worship something just because it makes you feel better isn't" so you can see why it made me understand myself better as a Christian. Because in a roundabout way it does say that love of God is an end to its own means, but in a different way; you just have to play it to really understand what I mean. Also has some seriously profound insight on what human love is. “Xenogears” perspective on love is that "Love isn't something given or taken! Its something freely offered by two people and accepted, it's the strength to carry on and the will to fight for what you believe. Love is not a weakness, its not jealous or fleeting, or anything but pure bliss. Real love isn't leaning on someone when you feel bad, real love is BEING there so others can lean on you if they have to." So as you can see, the game plays out more like a well written sci-fi novel. The game will take the average person a good 60+ hours to finish it. But the story of this game involves many religious things. In fact, one of the characters you get is a priest, or an “etone” who finds out that the church he's a priest for is really part of a conspiracy. And your true enemy in this game is “Deus” which is latin for “God”. And in some ways the last boss really is a “god” but rest assured you meet the real expression of God before the end of the game…and its nice because his own attitude is to “make of me what you will” meaning that its applicable to any religion. So don't go into this thinking its anti-religion, its not, its just written to further expound ones thought process. I've even known two people who've been led to Christianity through “Xenogears”. Because after they played it they realized how beneficial religion is to human beings if you worship God correctly. So if that's not proof this story isn't very controversial I don't know what is… My Ratings: [3 / 5 / 2 / 1]
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