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Jesus Autosaves: Biblical Themes in Videogames

With the release of the quirky, Biblical El Shaddai: Ascent of the Metatron on the horizon, here at Player Affinity we felt the time was right to point out a few other video games based on biblical characters and themes.  Regardless of your religious persuasion, it’s hard to deny that the Bible has some very powerful stories- the Beast of Revelations, Adam and Eve, Sodom and Gomorrah and the eternal struggle between Heaven and Hell, to name just a few.   

Cast your eyes downward for just a few examples of the vast number of video games which have adapted parts of the Bible and integrated the Good Book into their own stories.  

Dante’s Inferno
Dante’s Inferno is a God-of-War-esque action game based on the Italian Dante Aligheri’s stunning 16th century text, which itself was entirely drawn from Christian theology and the depictions of Hell found in the Bible.  In the original text, the author becomes lost in a dark wood and is rescued by the Roman poet Virgil, who takes him on a guided and heavily allegorical tour of the Underworld; in the game, you play as a Templar Knight called Dante who travels down to Hell to rescue his love Beatrice, killing Death itself and a horde of demon monsters with exposed breasts en-route.  Still, differences aside, Dante’s Inferno is if nothing else a visually arresting portrayal of the many levels of the Christian version of Hell and the torments that await sinners after the Final Judgement.

Darksiders takes its Biblical premise straight from the Book of Revelation: “Then another horse came out, a fiery red one. Its rider was given power to take peace from the earth and to make men slay each other. To him was given a large sword.”  Players take control of War, one of the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse, and are tasked with bringing order during the Final Battle and retrieving the Seventh Seal which will bring the other Horsemen to Earth.  Darksiders toys heavily with its Biblical source material (War defeats both the archangel Uriel and the Angel of Death, Abaddon, and receives counsel from the enigmatic archangel Samael) but captures the scale of the apocalyptic battle between Heaven and Hell effectively, and in the style of a big-budget sci-fi action movie.  

The stylish and incredibly over-the-top action game Bayonetta is perhaps not an immediate choice when discussing video games based on the Bible; however, all the necessary elements are present.  The Umbran Witch Clan, of which Bayonetta is the last remaining member, draw their powers from the realm of Inferno (a.k.a Hell); the game largely operates in the realms of Purgatorio (Purgatory, where humanity lives) and Paradiso (the angelic realm, where Bayonetta can interact with and defeat the angels (See the screenshot above) that are trying to stop her) and the battle between the Umbran Witches and the Lumen Sages is an allegory for the eternal struggle between darkness and light.  Sounding Biblical enough?  And let’s not forget the climax of the game, in which Bayonetta uses a construct made of her hair to punch Jubileus (a.k.a God) into the Sun... Although to be completely honest, that last part isn’t in any version of the Bible that I’ve read!  

Those are just a few examples; many other games take disparate elements from the Bible and weave them into their own narratives to a greater or lesser extent- whether by naming characters after Archangels (Soul Calibur) or pitting the player against the demons of Hell themselves (Shadows of the Damned).  The Bible is a rich mine of easily-identifiable concepts for video game developers, and as the holy text of the predominant Western religion, it ensures familiarity for Western audiences; the majority of Western gamers will undoubtedly know who Lucifer is when he pops up to advise your main character in El Shaddai!  

What kind of Biblical stories do you think would work well as video games?  Let us know in the comments below this article!


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