Genesis RPG: The Game That Oughtta Be

I just read this article about a failed Kickstarter. It’s notable for two main reasons: firstly, because Kickstarter failures usually fall into oblivion, and nobody cares anymore. Secondly, because the developers blame Satan himself for their lack of funding.

According to mainstream media, I can’t figure out any reason why the King of Avernus wouldn’t back a video game when everybody knows video games make us dumber and more violent. But what really shocked me was the chosen theme for their game, which made me wonder and reach some conclusions.

This game, still in a very early stage, inspired this article.

First off, the blatant lack of Biblical, Koranic, Pentateuchic or otherwise religious video games.

Even when religion has been part of video games now and then, it’s been in a (more) fictional way, such as in fantasy RPGs where there are complete made up pantheons and mythologies. The flat truth is that very few have dared to toy with real religion (don’t know if that’s an oxymoron or a pleonasm), and the few who’ve dared have taken a parodic or humorous point of view.

Even though there are hundreds of films and literature about religion and the text from the sacred books, video games have always been set apart. In an explicit example, “Noah” will be the only blockbuster action film this year without a tie-in video game.

Open Sea: Go Down Mo! is one of the only explicit examples of a religious mobile game that we know about (and, it’s awesome)

In fact, the idea of a game set in a crossroad between Bronze Age civilizations is tempting. Imagine the point in history when the last nomadic tribes and the first sedentary towns arose, when polytheist animistic cults clashed with an incipient monotheism. The economy was based both in barter and coinage, slaves were household goods and morality was scarce.

Amidst such an unholy maelstrom of chaos, a humble shepherd is enlightened by a revelation and starts the most epic of quest. Has he gone utterly nuts, or is he an emissary of a major celestial force? Can he save the known world, forging it for millennia to come?

Although not a hardcore RPG, it’d allow simple character creation

Would he (or she, character customization please) restore peace in the lands, or lead a huge army to wipe out infidels? Will he keep the power for himself or share the spells he learns on his way so others can work miracles, too?

Might he stick to the old gods so as not infuriate his fellows, refusing the new over-demanding Almighty One? How much is he willing to sacrifice for a new epiphany? His own son, perhaps? His tribe? Himself?

This sketch is from Conan: Hyborian Adventures, but it perfectly fits for Genesis: the RPG

Oh, c’mon, tell me it isn’t Zelda plus Conan plus Dragon Age all in one! Brimstone rains, gory brawls, agonizing sieges, seafare battles, spells (heals, but also curses), witches (Exodus 22:18) and priests , magic artifacts and relics, meager garments… once again, I dare you to tell me it isn’t the most epic premise EVER. I swear it. And it’d definitely be R-rated (wink).

Although it would be tempting to ask for a vast open world, ranging from Mauritania to the Caspian Sea, free roaming and m-games don’t get along at all. As such, it’d better be a map where you point at your goal, inducing a chance for a random encounter a la Dragon Age (or any other RPG, really).

Explore Canaan and Sinai. Climb Mount Ararat looking for Noah’s Ark. Investigate Enoch and meet Cain’s lineage. Travel to Saba, Ur and other mighty cities, incredibly advanced for their time. Find out what became of Lilith and the Lost Eden. Stay in or run away from Sodom. Deal with light and fallen angels alike.

Blood Giveth, Experienth Level Taketh. Mass Effect-like quick time actions (QTAs)

The key point for this project should be to maintain objectivity at all times, as well as being faithful to the source material.

This way, believers would be able to believe, and the rest would enjoy an epic low-tech fantasy setting (indeed, this and The Odyssey are the grandmothers of all epic settings).

Likewise, your character would often be obliged to select between different choices, whose repercussions could affect not only himself, but also those in his party, and even whole map areas. Cutscenes could be interrupted by paragon or renegade-like reactions, showing as much cruelty or mercy as the player sees fit.

Whatever happened way back when is a sum of good and bad actions. Ethics and issues from several thousand years ago don’t have to match our current standards in any way.

Dragon Age 2 dialogue wheel. Some NPCs can get really upset if you offend their beliefs.

It’s a game that would make Final Fantasy plots feel like amateur child’s play. It wouldn’t be recommended for all ages, but it might well be suited for all beliefs.

Now that we’re asking devs to be bravier and more daring, we all should agree that a AAA game of this caliber is necessary for umpteen reasons. Anyway, we should ask ourselves why there aren’t biblical blockbusters on the shelves yet, but nobody is shocked by Crusades, New World colonization, or alien worlds blown up into cosmic dust. Players dislike anything with scent of religiousity? Is any kind of taboo or fear of reprisals? Doesn’t it really interest anyone?

Compulsory disclaimer: no offense of any kind is intended — the complete opposite, in fact.

Added value:

  • Epic setting and historical approach to such an enthralling era and events. It might lure otherwise uninterested parties to video games.
  • The multi-choice dialogues and cutscene interruptions enhance replayability, plus allow player to play according to their belief (or lack thereof)
  • Native mobile/tablet AAA role-playing game

Money comes from:

  • It would meetall the prerequisites to be a premium game, as high as $6 or even $9.
  • Additional downloadable DLCs to add new areas and sidequests.
  • Somebody should email History Channel and ask them for money. This wouldn’t be the first video game they fund.

Don’t forget, you can go back to our first “game-that-oughtta-be,” Fitness & Sorcery, patiently await our next wackiness, or submit your own in the comments below.

Originally published at back in April the third, 2014.