In the 1970's, Reverend Jim Jones and his Peoples Temple church group moved to Guyana to escape what they perceived to be a persecutory and invasive federal government. Despite some friendships with elected officials, Jones felt his socialist views made him a target in the eyes of Cold War-era US domestic policy. In reality, Jones' mind was slipping. In years to come he would be labeled a narcissist and a psychopath. That's because on one November afternoon in 1978 in "Jonestown", with media and governmental scrutiny bearing down on him following allegations of abuse and corruption, he ordered his cult following, nearly 1,000 people, including some children and infants, to drink Kool-Aid knowingly laced with cyanide. Nearly everyone who was a part of Peoples Temple would die that day in what is still the largest mass suicide event in United States history.
If you already knew the story of Jonestown and you're at all like me, you may have always found this story to be morbidly fascinating. It seems at least one indie studio agrees. Richard Rouse III, the man behind the original Xbox's The Suffering
, and Paranoid Productions, have today introduced The Church in the Darkness
, a top-down "action-infiltration" game that very closely mirrors the events of Jonestown and other religiously motivated cults that ended in violence.
Rebecca and Isaac Walker are the leaders of Freedom Town, a relocated church group in South America who have fled the US to escape the country's injustices as they perceive them. You play a former police officer who intends on infiltrating the cult to check on his sister's son, one of the many devout followers of the Walkers.
Every playthrough is designed to be different than the rest. What are the true intentions of the Walkers? Who might your allies be among the followers? These and the game's outcome will differ as you return to play again and again. Sometimes the cult will actually be found to be non-violent and truly just looking for a different way of life than what they can have in 1970's America. Of course, other times, this won't nearly be the case as you can see in the trailer.
You can read an extended intro with Rouse over at Xbox Wire
which delves deeper into the game's dynamic storytelling mechanics and the psyche of cults. The Church in the Darkness
is due out early next year.