As you can imagine, the team over at CGR was very intrigued to hear about the upcoming release of a Catholic video game starring Blessed Carlo Acutis. First revealed a couple months back, we aren’t necessarily here to reveal it to you but rather answer the question: will this game be good?
It’s a genuine question, and a toughie to answer. We really haven’t seen that many Catholic games out there, and it’s understandable why. For one thing, in the modern day when AAA companies are not just applauded but in many cases expected to go all in on pride every June, it’s unsurprising that they would be slow to associate themselves with a religion that is heavily opposed to such things. Secondly, I imagine it would be a hard sell to the many consumers that see Christianity as something old and boring, unfit for video games aside from some references and inspirations here and there.
However, because you don’t see too many Catholic video games, it’s hard to compare this to anything else. So, today I’m just going to go over what was shown in the first trailer and from the website, pointing out strengths and weaknesses, and give my judgements.
Let’s start off with the positive things. First and foremost, I’m not sure I could dream up a better premise for a Catholic video game. Having a modern saint, Carlo Acutis, venture back and view the lives of both Jesus and the saints is very charming and gives us the chance to learn about many different figures all in one package. Because it will presumably be jumping from person to person, they may not have to add filler like what could happen if someone tried to make an entire game about a saint that has minimal documentation like St. Patrick or something. Instead, the developers might just stick to covering things that actually happened, or are at least things the saints likely would have done. And, since Carlo lived after all of these events took place, we’ll get to look back at history from an outside perspective rather than awkwardly place figures of Catholicism in modern places and situations they never would have been during life.
Additionally, having this kind of game be story-driven is probably the right call. Even if you made a game about one of the solider saints, it could still be strange for many people to watch a holy figure guide troops into battle, even if it’s justified. I’m not saying some awesome action game starring St. Michael couldn’t be done, it would just be difficult.
Now, just because a game is about Catholicism doesn’t mean it can’t have any flaws, and I’m sure some of you already know where I’m going first – the graphics. Some of these character models do look pretty good, particularly saints Juan Diego and Kateri Tekakwitha. The Unreal Engine 5 lighting also does a lot to help the game. Unfortunately, the human body is a very difficult model to get right and you can see the uncanny valley, in my opinion, most strongly with Acutis himself and JPII in the trailer.
The other problem I have with this game is its talk about the “Metaverse” and the blockchain. Listen, I’m a computer guy, but I can’t say I’ve been all to happy as of late to hear those terms. Metaverse in particular has become one of those buzzwords, and I don’t think the negative connotation its received in the last couple years will do much to help the game. I can definitely see its claim to be a “decentralized open-world metaverse” alienating traditional gamers and confusing the less tech-savvy. It doesn’t seem to be the main focus of the game, but I would still personally prefer that aspect be left out.
At the end of the day, I’m doubtful that this game is going to blow up or anything, and the scope it has will probably mean the experience will falter in some areas simply due to lack of resources and expertise (if it takes Nintendo half a decade to make an open-world game, it surely can’t be easy). Personally, I would have advised the developers to go for something a bit more simple – but perhaps Unreal Engine 5, which this game is built on, makes development easier than I realize.
Nevertheless, I’m confident for Catholics that this game will be a win. Video games are certainly a fit avenue for Catholic education, and I want to see how well these devs can do it. It looks like some genuinely faithful people are behind this and I’m very excited to play it. According to GlobeNewswire, the game is set to launch on PC and Mac on Carlo’s feast day: October 12. I know I’m excited to play it, and you bet we’ll be covering it in greater detail after release.