May the Lord bless this holy mess.
Catechumen is both bizarre and strangely fascinating. I can’t even say I hate it as a game, but I am dumbfounded by it all the same. It pursues the always difficult task of making action games fun without having any violence, gore or bad language in them. It’s sort of like alcohol-free beer, or Quake with a fun-ectomy, if you will.
The reason for this is because it’s billed as an action game with Christian overtones. Now this doesn’t even have to get awkward considering religion isn’t all that uncommon in computer gaming – anyone who has ever played through Baldur’s Gate or Planescape: Torment can attest to that. But metaphysical musings are solely relegated to deep, thoughtful RPGs, not fragfests like Quake or Doom. Now can you guess which genre Catechumen is trying to emulate, and why it’s a horrendous idea?
Play is set during the height of Christian persecution, under the Roman Empire. The action doesn’t involve any shooting per se, but instead you have to convert the heathen romans using your magical Christian powers. “ZAP” goes your magical sword, and the romans instantly kneel and pray – you’ve saved their soul, apparently. Too bad they don’t get beamed up into heaven, as the Romans who just sit there praying can sometimes block your path through narrow corridors. Exploring your surroundings reveals scroll power-ups that contain Bible verses, while keys unlock new rooms with more of the same.
You won’t only face Romans in this game, but also demons. Freaky impish things with freaky sound effects. The AI here is incredibly basic, consisting mainly of the demons running towards you in a satanic charge from hell. When you’re within an enemy’s range, you’ll trigger its ‘search and destroy’ routine. You’re left with a game flow that involves a lot of backing up and shooting rather than trying to skillfully maneuver and fight.
This isn’t even going into the pitiful production values – clearly the publisher couldn’t get any Vatican funding, since the graphics look like they’re straight out of the Old Testament. There’s just not much point in going through this game, even if you’re feeling particularly charitable. At the end of it all, it’s better to reign in Quake than serve in Catechumen.
System Requirements: Pentium II 233 MHz, 32 MB RAM, Win95
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