Story-driven action game The Church in the Darkness announced for PS4

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Story-driven action game The Church in the Darkness announced for PS4

Infiltrate a mysterious religious cult in the latest from Richard Rouse III

Games are perfect for creating complex worlds and stories to get lost in, particularly action games where emotions are high and your moment-to-moment decisions mean life or death. As a developer I like telling unique stories and watching as players change the narrative based on what they do.

I’m happy to finally announce our game The Church in the Darkness, coming to PS4. And it has exactly that kind of thought-provoking world.


The Church in the Darkness is set inside a religious cult in the 1970s. The Collective Justice Mission is led by the charismatic and intense Isaac & Rebecca Walker who preach a progressive socialist agenda. They are labelled radicals, feel persecuted by the U.S. government and fear for their safety.

So they move their congregation somewhere they think they can set up the ideal socialist utopia: the jungles of South America. There they build Freedom Town. But relatives left behind in the United States become worried: what exactly is going on at this compound in the jungle?

That’s where you come in. As Vic, an ex-law enforcement officer, you set out to infiltrate Freedom Town to check on your sister’s son, Alex. The core of the game is top-down, action-infiltration gameplay in the open map of Freedom Town. You get to play the way you want — you can play precisely and avoid detection completely, you can get the guards out of your path using non-lethal methods, or you can kill anyone who gets in your way.

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But you’ll want to make those choices wisely, because when you arrive in Freedom Town you don’t know for sure — are these people just separatists wanting to live their own life in peace, or are there darker things happening here?

The game is meant to be highly replayable, and each time you play the motives of Isaac and Rebecca will change. You soak up the story through the town PA system, where the preachers share their dogma and beliefs. You find documents and letters scattered around camp which clue you into whether everything in Freedom Town is fine, or if bad things will happen if you don’t do something to save these people.

Long-time PlayStation fans may remember The Suffering horror games that I wrote and directed. Those titles blended twisted supernatural horror with an aging haunted prison, a setting that let us deal with a lot of disturbing, real-world subject matter. Though The Church in the Darkness has no supernatural elements, it does look at some of the more extreme sides of humanity. And like The Suffering, in Church I want the player to have to think hard about what they want to do when confronted with darkness.


I’ve recruited several key collaborators from The Suffering working with me again on this project. One is actor John Patrick Lowrie. He played a bunch of roles in The Suffering and was someone I always wanted to work with again. John’s an accomplished theatre actor, so I knew he could take on the complex role of the fiery Isaac Walker. You may also know him from his other work, perhaps his performance as The Sniper in Team Fortress 2.

Opposite John, I knew I wanted someone who was just as strong an actor to play Rebecca Walker, and talking with John we realised who better than his wife, Ellen McLain. Ellen needs even less introduction, as you’ve no doubt heard her singular performance as GLaDOS in the Portal games. The parts were written for John and Ellen from the very beginning. Having a real-life married couple play this fictitious married couple has brought extra depth to their performance, and is one of the best collaborations I’ve ever had.

We’re going to be showing more of the gameplay in future updates. I can’t wait to see what choices you make in the jungle.

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4 Author Replies

  • Richard Rouse III You were the man responsible for my nightmares :O Seriously loved the Suffering but the ties that bind had me waking up in the middle of the night. My dreams were so vivid, I dare not play it again.

    This does look really good and I am gonna give this a go :)

    • Richard Rouse III

      I am pleased my nightmares made it all the way across the Atlantic and had such an effect on you – makes all the hard work worth it.

      Hope you enjoy the new nightmares too.

  • This looks great, really like the narrative behind it. Can’t wait.

  • Epic, I love cults. To my knowledge I’ve never found a game like this before. I’ll buy this definitely.

  • This looks really interesting, love the premise and I’m curious to see how the dynamic motivations thing will work. Looking forward to learning more about this.

  • I think I’m now at a point t of over saturation on certain game types and indie stuff I. General. I wish the big publishers took more risks , I wish games weren’t so expensive to make. I wish it could be 2007 again.

    • Yet every time we get given this stuff on plus, you’re like the only person saying they like it.

    • Yeah. In my eyes if they gave us knack or killzone I would be less pleased. I would be impressed but I certainly wouldn’t be excited.
      Gaming needs a shake up.this year is looking like a good one with Uncharted 4(even though I’m playing the first games for the first time and not really enjoying them) Persona 5, last guardian.
      Just seems like game design is a bit stale at the moment and we keep getting another one of these and another one of that.
      If I’m honest I think VR couldn’t come soon enough. It looks like the kick up the behind gaming needs.

    • I can live with indie as long as it’s something fresh/innovative. This, stuff by Santa Monica (Flower, Journey etc), Rocket League, Don’t Starve all brought something new to the table.

      Problem with most indies, especially the ones we get on PSPlus, is that they’re generic shooter/platformers with a few bright colours. Nothing new about them, just filler.

    • Big publishers won’t take risks the same way that films and TV don’t take risks. It’s about profit, what sells, what has a guaranteed market. It’s why there are constant remakes of older films, some not even that old.

      The only people taking risks are indie devs….because they can. Indie devs usually start out coding in their bedroom. Beat Hazard Ultra took 2 years for the guy to make (which was an obvious nod to Jeff Minter).

      You could argue that the reason so many 8 bit and 16 bit type games keep getting released for the PS4 is because they are cheap to make, easy to make etc. Animation software isn’t cheap and I’m certain Sony isn’t going to be releasing games made on cracked software.

    • Richard Rouse III

      Hope this one is different enough to kick you out of those doldrums that are bumming you out – to my knowledge there aren’t many (any?) games out there like this one.

  • Now this is something! Just take my money already!

  • Religious cult in the 1970’s…does it include purple Kool-Aid and rousing dialogue such as “we are not committing suicide but a revolutionary act”? South America…Guyana perhaps? Will there be a member of congress (Leo Ryanesque) coming to check up on the cult then being gunned down on that airfield.

    Many people outside of the US won’t get those references, but for me I remember the news footage taken from helicopters flying over the remnants of Jonestown in 1978. I was 9 and it made me realise there is no god. Worship + belief = death.

    In a sociology class I took in New Orleans I wanted to have a presentation on serial killers but my tutor forced me to do the presentation on cults. As a fob, I unfurled a banner stating “welcome to Jonestown”, had two classmates pass out purple Kool-Aid and had the recording of that fateful day playing. Chaos broke out, some people held others down and forced them to drink it. Others took the drink willingly. It was an oral presentation in which I never said a word. I aced the class.

    I still have the Psychic TV pressing of The Last Supper which is the actual recording of people committing suicide and others being murdered while Jim Jones monologue goes on and on. The People’s Temple and the aftermath had such a huge impact on me…any time I sart to believe in anything I just remember the bloated dead bodies rotting in a South American jungle.

    Out of morbidity I will be picking this up. It’s why I own the vinyl of that last day. It’s a reminder of how people can manipulate others and brainwash them. It reminds me of being young and having panic attacks everytime I saw a church. It reminds me that belief is dogmatic and religion is a means of control.

    • It doesn’t mean that God doesn’t exist, it simply shows that religion is a problem. God doesn’t endorse religion or worship of any kind.

    • Richard Rouse III

      That’s an intense class story – thanks for sharing.

      Though we’ve certainly studied Jonestown, we draw on a lot of different inspirations for the characters and people in this game. Definitely not a documentary of any one group. That said, there are a lot of commonalities between these charismatic and sometimes apocalyptic cult leaders. We’re drawing from real events, but we’re making something different. We want it to feel real, but it’s fiction.

  • You had me at religious cult

  • Richard Rouse III

    Thanks everybody for checking out the game! If you want to follow along development, might I recommend our mailing list? It’s at

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