Spiritual Warfare, Video Games

Spiritual Warfare Part 3: From Gangland to the ‘Burbs

This game suuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuucks.

Can I leave it at that?  No?  Oh, very well…

Last time, NotLink couldn’t make it past the warehouse area and was punished for walking into a bar (which wasn’t even a bar) by having his “Belt of Truth” taken away and put in the slums, which was apparently an area he was supposed to go to in the first place.  See, this is another way the lack of direction from the game itself is a huge problem.  True, The Legend of Zelda doesn’t give you step-by-step pointers on where to go either, not to the extent that a plot-heavy RPG like a Dragon Quest would anyway, but you are given an indication of what order the game expects you to go places.  Each of Zelda’s labyrinths are numbered like normal video game levels, so you can usually guess if you’re stuck because you don’t have an item you need to progress.  Here, though, you have no idea if you the special items you need.  To be fair, the game will give you a NPC  who tells you that you need something to move forward, but you don’t know that until you’ve already had to fight your way into hostile territory.

Despite needing my “Belt of Truth” back (apparently), I stopped by the suburbs first, or “Houses” as the game calls it.  It was a weird place, where you can run out into the middle of a busy highway and yet getting hit by the cars doesn’t effect your health (really)…

And spraypainters turn the sidewalks different colors…for some reason.  It doesn’t hurt you;  I think it slows you down, but since NotLink moves like he’s got an ice cube up his ass (that’s the opposite of having a fire up your ass, right?) it’s hard to tell.

Oh, and there are ninjas!  Well, actually, since it’s the Suburbs…I mean, “Houses”, I guess they’re supposed to be ski-mask wearing robbers, but I prefer ninjas, dammit.

While I did find yet another area I couldn’t access because I didn’t happen to have the right item, I did get a new and better weapon, the Pomegranate, which in the game represents “love.”  That it does, but in pagan European tradition it represents the sort of love that I don’t think the game’s designers were thinking about…as well as fertility.  Also, in a couple of versions of the Garden of Eden story the fruit that leads to the Fall is a pomegranate.   That brings a whole new dimension to the concept of “forbidden fruit.”

Besides getting the evil fertility fruit that I can whack people in the face with, there was also a church where a true miracle occurred, one that would truly bring faith to even the coldest of hearts.  That’s right;  the game actually gave me a hint about where to go.

While I’m grateful that I finally got some kind of damn direction, this only raises more questions.  Is God telling me to find the “Boots of the Gospel”?  Did the kid just glimpse at the Bible and the passage happened to say that?  If so, does that mean God gave some poor Jewish scribe in ancient Babylon this hint to put in the Bible?  Could the Book of Revelation be an elaborate if confusing FAQ for some future kid who has to go around hitting atheists with pieces of fruits?  So many theological questions…

Also, really, “Boots of the Gospel”?  What comes next – “The Revolver of Easter”?  “The Grappling Hook of the Book of Job”?

Anyway, after finding the church I hit another dead end, so I took off to the slums.   even though I had to go there because of the game programmers’ weird morality, the slums have been the highlight so far.  It looks like someone dropped an atomic bomb on Andy Capp’s home city, and that’s kind of awesome.

Of course, because this is Spiritual Warfare, there are a few things that are distinctly unawesome.  For one thing, NotLink can’t even climb through piles of trash, and you have to blow them up (although sometimes that doesn’t work either).  For another, you get attacked by dogs, and since dogs actually do not go to Heaven you can’t kill-convert (killvert?) them like everything else (the “bombs” don’t work either and, yes, I tried).  The whole slum is so disconcerting even creepy pedophile quiz guy is disturbed:

If the whole “cars not killing a small fleshy boy” counts, I think this brings the Programming Error Count up to two.  That’s high quality by Wisdom Tree standards!

Finally, the slums made me realize that this game’s idea of a “dungeon” is to put you in a room with a number of bombable and pushable obstacles.  I suppose they’re meant to be puzzles, but it always takes about two or three seconds to figure it all out.  Getting through them – especially since most of the time you have to go back through it and all the obstacles respawn – feels like it takes ten years, especially when one has to go through them just to get an item taken away from you.

However, the game did surprise me, and surpass all my very low expectations.  In the slums, you’re warned about a real gang war and soon come across them.  In order to progress, you must carry out a couple of missions, which the programmers made symbolic of the complex social and economic problems facing inner city youth…

Nah, just kidding;  you only whack them with fruit.

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