Steamroll: Adam's Venture
Christian games infuriate me because I was a Christian. Although I have lapsed into apathetic atheism, I still hold enough fondness for Christianity that seeing bad games pay it lip-service to profit off well-meaning parents feels like watching sleazy merchants hawk their wares on the Temple grounds. While Adam’s Venture Episode 1 was a decent adventure/puzzle game for $5, its attempts at spreading the joy of Christ merely by having players arrange Biblical verses in the right order had me flipping tables. (You can read my review of it and subsequent rant about Christian games here.)
This week, Adam’s Venture Episodes 2 and 3 were released on Steam. Dreadful curiosity overcame me as I started them up for the Steamroll. For Episode 2, dread was the proper response. While they removed the verse-arrangement lip-service to Christianity (and any allusions to teaching it period), they managed to take everything else that was irritating about the first episode and make it worse.
The first area of the game (escaping a remote landing strip with your companion Eve) demonstrates this nicely. You start out searching the environment for a key. There are no guards or dangers; it’s simply busywork without a threat. Once you unlock your way to freedom, there’s a short stealth section where you sneak past a guard taking a cigarette break by creeping past his window while his exhaled smoke obscures his view. Since this is one of the vaguest and shortest “safe to move now” signals I’ve ever seen, I was swearing at the game before I finally succeeded a dozen tries later. This is followed by another boring, threat-free search for six fuel cans. Next is some of the best character development I’ve seen in a long time. Since the game only gives you one automatic save and doesn’t let you return to a previous checkpoint, I’ve provided a rough transcript of the enlightening scene below:
Adam: “Move aside, woman! A man needs to be behind the wheel!”
Our hero, ladies and gentlemen! Remember kids, it’s alright to make someone sexist if you also make them incompetent, thus offending both genders! Oh, and sparks from the lamppost ignite some nearby fuel barrels and blow up the airstrip. I was surprised to see that, since the game bills itself as “non-violent”; I guess since Adam wasn’t trying to blow it up, it’s not violent. There’s also the time later where he wants to blow up some people, but I guess since he doesn’t follow through with it, that’s not violent either. (This game has very specific definitions of non-violent, apparently.) To top it all off, the naive guard that gives Adam access to his bosses’ headquarters is the only dark-skinned native I’ve interacted with all game. Unfortunate implications ahoy.
Aside from the sexism, racism, and strangely broad definitions of non-violent, you have a lot of walking around trying to find the exit, a lot of of walking around trying to find the items you need to exit, and a few basic puzzles like “how can you get this number by adding these four numbers?” There hasn’t been any references to Biblical verses or Christian themes so far; perhaps they decided they’d done enough damage to Christianity through implications alone. If I have any religion left in my soul, I’m sure this game had it weeping in the corner.
As amusing as it would be if Episode 3 was even worse, I was surprised at how good it was in comparison. It starts out with a flashback on how Adam & Eve started working together to determine whether the book of Genesis is true and continues with Adam trying to stop a crazed maniac from killing Eve and blowing up Solomon’s Temple. You want to root for this Adam, too; the sexism has been toned down to a few cheesy pick-up lines, he acts like he’s competent, and he shows concern for Eve’s well-being from the start. It’s much nicer to have a decent character for the game, rather than some caricature crafted for cheap jokes.
They got rid of the annoying item-finding to boot, instead swiftly tossing puzzles at you and never letting up. The puzzles were the only entertaining part of the first two episodes, so it’s good to see they’ve emphasized them here. In contrast to how the second episode started, finishing this episode’s initial section involves solving four different pattern-recognition puzzles, which then combine into a fifth pattern-recognition puzzle to pinpoint a location on a giant room-sized map. It felt like a puzzle from Myst was spliced into a scene from Indiana Jones.
Between the puzzles and the improved characterization in Episode 3, I actually enjoyed myself. I’m already two-thirds through the game after playing it for 1.5 hours, and I’m tempted to put another hour into it just to see how it ends. That’s more than I can say about the second episode, which I would burn on a pyre if I could.
Adam’s Venture, Episode 2
Adam’s Venture, Episode 3
With that, I bring this trilogy of Christian adventure games to a close. Who knows what next week will bring on the Steamroll?