Friday, July 29, 2011

The Bible Retold: Lost Sheep

I found this game rather amusing, but not in the way I think the author intended.

First, a note about the layout: my first and only difficulty with this game was getting a sense of the landscape. I decided to first explore my territory and got lost quite frequently because I'm bad with direction, and all the places were variations on "Field". I had to write myself a map of the area, and then I felt really silly when it was basically revealed as a 5-room map. This probably says more about me than the author, since I have trouble with many maps, but a bit of diversity would be nice.

Knowing that in the parable, the shepherd is God/Jesus and the sheep is a person, I find it amusing how incredibly hell-bent the player is on retrieving his sheep, for recovery's sake only. This is a sheep that clearly does not want to be in the herd anymore, hiding in bushes, crossing streams strong enough to potentially drown people, and finally climbing a mountain firmly established as scary and "looming". As myself, I feel like leaving well enough alone, and letting this sheep find his/her own happiness, and not forcing the sheep to do anything. After all, if I were omnipotent I have no need for sheep, really, so the best I can do is allow them happiness, so I struggled to put myself into the mindset that I must find this sheep.

As God/Jesus, however, I understand fury at this disobedient sheep and embrace the intention that must be returned to where I want it to be, no matter what the cost. It seems only fitting that in the obsessive quest to re-enslave your sheep, you end up burning it, forcing it nearly to drown, then to climb a perilous cliff-face before you finally corner the cowering creature. The text says you call all of your friends and neighbors to celebrate the return of your sheep, in a party which I can only imagine contained lamb chops.

I was disappointed by the lack of implementation of SMITE, but PRAY had the good sense to include the amusing response of "... Unfortunately, the Lord seems to be conveniently engaged elsewhere." Too true.

I really laud the author for restraining from overt proselytizing, because that's something that can really kill gameplay. There's nothing so bad as an "education" game that put education over game. While it was short, it had no bugs, and a cohesiveness. Everything that said it was there, was there, and there was some amusing stuff with the goats.

Mentioning the Juniper Bush immediately made me think of the scene from Life of Brian, although after burning it, it was probably intended to be a reference to Moses, and I fully expected the burning bush to be implemented as a communication device with God, but it wasn't, and I feel like that was probably for the best.

I expect this game to get flack for having Buffalo in Bethlehem, but meh, that's just a technical detail, that doesn't affect gameplay or tone, so it's not an issue. Anyone who harps on this is just looking for ways to needle games instead of enjoy them, and ignore them.

Overall, slightly fun, short, but it shows great promise, and I hate to say it but I would look forward to more games from this author in the future, providing they create a larger environment with more puzzles. I would recommend picking a more obscure story, one where the outcome isn't already known, or introducing more obstacles and extrapolations.

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