Games tackling religion are always difficult to assess. It's a delicate subject that can easily cause offense if not handled carefully. Despite this, some games do take on the subject. The results are always variable and, sadly, often dire. The Secrets of Jesus, unfortunately, falls into the latter category, failing to function as either a point and click adventure or a satire.
A Spiritual Satire
One of the first problems with this game is that there's really not enough information to assess what you're getting. The description simply reads: "The Secrets of Jesus is a classic point & click adventure game, which tells an old tale in a completely new manner."
The game's Steam page shows nothing else except a release date, a note that the game is out, and a message that the Linux version won't work on Steam. While the Linux message is a little humorous with its portrayal of Jesus patting a sad penguin, this is the only hint of the game's satire until you either play the game or read the solitary English comment on the page.
This means that the developer is leaving potential audiences confused. Those who would appreciate a satire are likely to stay away as they may assume it's a game to teach children about Jesus in a new and engaging way, while people who want that will be likely to review bomb this to high heaven. Despite this confusion, the lack of information is the least of this game's problems.
Point And Click Jesus
The opening sequence of the game sees players listen to a very random retelling of some bible stories. It quickly becomes obvious that this is a title that isn't taking itself seriously.
As the fishermen moan about pizza and Jesus tries to get Mary Magdalene to run away with his newly resurrected self, we begin to get into the point and click adventure, which has plenty of clicking, but sadly, very little adventure.
The Jesus shaped cursor makes it nice and annoying to try and establish what you can actually interact with and how. Occasionally it will change to a more normal-looking cursor, but this won't always be when you can actually interact with things, making the whole point and click process far more laborious than it should be.
Another thing which makes it decidedly less adventurous is how frustrating it is. After being told to find three people, I could find only one, and then seemed to hit a dead end. My ways were blocked by a cliff, a sleeping cart driver, and rabbits, because apparently Jesus is scared of rabbits.
Having to scroll back through all the screens to find a new way forward was incredibly frustrating, to say the least. A point and click adventure should be engaging, but this one really isn't. It's not at all intuitive, the interface is the worst I've ever seen for a game of this type, and it isn't even saved by a witty story.
A Sad Story
At this point, I should mention that the game defaults to German, so I assume the English version is a translation. I'd like to think mistranslation is the reason the storyline is utterly dull, but I suspect that's not the case.
I can see aspects of the plot where the author has tried to hit a joke, but very few of them land. Overall, it just comes across as weird, pointless, and, most likely, offensive.
If you were hoping this would teach your child about Jesus, then stop right there before you click buy. Within the first 30 minutes of the game, there was blasphemy, slight nudity, talk of using prostitutes, and a huge amount of paraphrasing and deliberately misinterpreting biblical quotes. Anyone looking for a game about bible stories is in the wrong place.
This Game Needs A Miracle
I'm not bashing this game because it's about religion. It isn't bad because it's a religious satire. It's bad because every aspect of it misses the mark. The graphics are bland, the music is repetitive and dull, the satire isn't funny, and the point and click interface isn't easy to use. I've never before encountered a point and click adventure that made it so difficult to point and click.
It's for all these reasons that this game is one that was better left unmade. It will truly be a miracle if this title succeeds.
A PC copy of The Secrets of Jesus was purchased by TheGamer for this review. The Secrets of Jesus is available for PC.