Incredibly, I had never heard of Bible Chronicles: The Call of Abraham until today. It's an epic role-playing game by Phoenix Interactive Studios in which you play a lowly member of the Biblical Abraham's group in a 100% historically accurate representation of 2000BC, Forrest Gumping in on the title character's exploits (which involve sexy times with his wife's servant, the wonder of mass circumcision, and the smiting of Sodom) while levelling up your ability to herd sheep. Thanks to the God-given miracle of technology, you can watch the trailer right here, on this very page. The things you can do these days!
It is perhaps a byproduct of my atheism-confirming religious schooling that I have a hearty love for over-ambitious Christian-themed creative projects. One of my favourite film directors is the aptly-named Rich Christiano, whose Christian time-travel opus Time Changer must be seen to be believed. Just thinking about it started me off on a whole new tangent, but it's not relevant to this story. Another time, Time Changer. Another time.
So, Bible Chronicles, then!
The trailer above is phenomenal - indeed, a gift from heaven. I love, love, love that the first two things to happen in the trailer are 1: a man cheerily waves at the camera, and 2: another man hits a dog with a stick, killing it instantly. That's some rapid escalation and some cruel gameplay. Not even The Walking Dead is that callous. The bizarrely brief final shot is probably my favourite part, though. I don't know what's supposed to be going on there with those running guys, but I love how fleeting our glimpse at them is nonetheless. It's a taste of further delights to come.
But what's this? There's a gameplay video too? UPDATE: Not anymore there isn't. Luckily, you can still read my description, look to the heavens, and wonder.
Turns out Imanish, the Elamite outcast as whom you play, is impressively buff, working his shorts as he runs through the empty (admittedly unfinished) landscapes of Canaan, slipping a sly wink to the occasional lonely coyote. I'm desperate to hear more of the voice acting, which sounds as if Phil Ken Sebben found his way into an NES fighting game. At the end of the gameplay video, the player hooks up with Lot, who in the Bible offers his virgin daughters to some Sodomites so that they'll rape them instead of the angels couch-surfing at his place. Later, Lot gets drunk and impregnates those very same daughters. Want to crowdfund this game yet?
Well, too bad. Bible Chronicles: The Call of Abraham's Kickstarter failed to reach its goal, a failure which the studio attributes to actual Satan (as opposed to figurative Satan, the patron saint of BAD). In a fascinating and in-depth interview with Polygon, Bible expert Ken Frech lays out just how important this game is in the war against evil: "If Satan is rallying some of his resources to forestall, delay, or kill this project, I think, this must be a perceived threat to his kingdom. I fully would expect something like this to have spiritual warfare. Look at the gospel accounts of demons and so forth. That's reality. Many Americans don't believe it anymore. That doesn't change reality."
Sure doesn't, Ken.
The full interview explores the developers' place in a gaming culture that spurns religion; the use of Grand Theft Auto as a tool by Satan; and the Biblical-literalist attitude with which Phoenix are approaching their own game. It's also far less adoringly mocking than this article. I'll grant them this: developing a large-scale open-world RPG set in a Biblically accurate Middle East is something untried and frankly brave, which may be why Satan hates it so much. He can't stand change. Maybe they can combat him by endlessly looping the freeze-framed final message of David from Rich Christiano's Second Glance on all their TVs.