Written by sPINDRAFT 2/16/2014
Let’s check out The Box (The Pyxis), a very evil place with a very powerful and pissed off resident called The Firstborn; a dark creation concieved of and written by Clive Barker – the master behind terrrifying classics such as “Hellraiser” and “Candyman”.
Many moons ago I read some of Clive’s work, most notably “Weaveworld”, and I certainly watched the classics mentioned above but being a late bloomer in the computer age (still wish I had been paying attention when Atari was just an infant and everything was paddle, blocks and little bouncing balls) I had never heard of Clive Barker games until the last couple of years as I became more involved with the horror genre. Actually I had moved more into historical, fantasy and scifi works and just lost track of the great horror writers (fantasy RPG’s are what ultimately brought me to the gaming arenas).
So with all that babbling spewed forth I must say that I was very interested in this game when I began doing the HAG articles. I thought it would be awesome to play around in the virtual creation of a master horror writer so I defintely put it on my list of games to play but let me stop right here; aside from the dark creation theme and the spooky settings created for team Jericho this is not a horror game. Jericho is most decidedly a dark shooter with some interesting game play (if you get past the first few chapters) and offers some intense moments but this tension is not created out of fear of anything you may be experiencing in game it is the anxiety created when one is overwhelmed (actually just wondering if you can stay alive long enough to finish off the last wave) by enemy forces (either dead or alive) and trying to search for the winning strategy while you are getting the shit kicked out of you.
Staying alive is not actually a critical consideration in your strategy at any point in the game as you can die as much as you want, if your teammates don’t revive you (this is occult warfare remember) you will simply be transported to another host within the team and the fighting continues. I can’t tell you everything so I will let you figure out the reason behind the teleporting soul deal. The cool part in all of this is that it behooves you to remember each of your teammates special skills and abilities as well as where the fallen members are located so you can get back and revive them because if all of you die then the Firstborn’s army wins and you are – well – dead!
Let me clear this up quickly and be done with it – the game is very linear, you sart at point A and fight your way to point B, period; what happens along the way is some serious strategy which gets increasingly more difficult and more important as you progress through The Box. The Box is the realm of the Firstborn whom you chase through the slices of the real world it has drug back with it each time it has been defeated during previous breaches throughout history. It is the team play and mastering the tactics of any given engagement that make the game playable and worthwhile (it also has pretty nice graphics and a good storyline).
Since the story deals with the idea of occult warfare I decided to do a little digging to see if any of it matched up in any small way to real history (kind of a thing with me) and was able to find some interesting, though admitedly vague, connections. There is a place, the largest sand desert in the world, called The Empty Quarter. It is located mostly in Saudi Arabia and a buried city has been discovered there which fell into ruin due to a sinkhole. In Jericho the Firstborn’s buried domain (it is actually described as being in an abyss) is called Al Khali but in the real world the city is called Ubar and the desert’s name is Rub al-Khali.
Another interesting tidbit centers around Lichthammer’s depiction as a high ranking German officer in the Nazi’s occult department who has gone absolutely apeshit. It is well known that Hitler had strong tendencies towards the occult and as WWII loomed large the allies began setting up counter intelligence in all areas of interest including the occult. There was a British Intelligence officer called William Stein who studied in the occult in the same circles as Hitler in the 20′s and 30′s. As Hitler leaned more and more towards lunacy and maniacal idealogy Stein fled back to England where he warned Winston Churchill of Hitler’s behavior. Churchill contacted the American President Roosevelt who met with Stein and very quickly an orginization was set up to deal with the paranormal threat; it was called The Watch.
In game the British group that Jericho encounters is called Blackwatch and Jericho represents the power and influence that made up the original group, right down to the Priest who in real life was a Catholic Arch Bishop. The trip backwards through time (you travel through the slices of reality that the Firstborn has collected over the centuries) tracks all the way back to the Sumerian Gods of the ancient creation stories. I suppose the similarities are slightly stronger than vague and actually well hidden in the story unless your like me and go searching for them.
Ok back to the game itself, Jericho is a fun shooter. It starts off a little small but gains stature in terms of combat fairly quickly. If you don’t mind the extremely linear format, and as far as I am concerned you should not get all hung up about that (its more about enjoying the moments when your style of attack, strategy and player awareness rule the day), or the fairly rediculous death sequences which allow you and every other team member to die many times as long as you don’t all die in the same fight (this actually becomes part of your strategy concerns in tougher battles) or the fact that it is nearly impossible to run out of ammo (must have gotten that one from Hollywood). Aside from these obvious B rated flaws it is still a fun game to play and the graphic detail is very good for an offering of 2007 (that may not be too old by most standards but in pc gaming years that is reaching the antique mark).
Mercury Steam, Alchemic Productions and Clive Barker created a good game that delves into a dark theme but I could have used a little more of the horror and a little less of the shooter. As it is the horror of Jericho lives in the theme alone and not so much in the gameplay (unless FPS style gameplay spooks you) and this is the shame of it all. It is this writer’s opinion that Jericho opted for a mainstream gaming approach instead of the riskier avenue of forging new paths. What could have been something great really lands in the domain of mediocrity, a game that many will visit at least once but one that fails to elevate itself above the norm.
HAG Score - 8.8