Shadows on the Vatican Act I: Greed is a 2014 graphic point-and-click adventure game which is an adaption of David Yallop’s bestselling book In God’s Name.
The lead character is James Murphy, an ex-priest who became a doctor after leaving the Catholic Church. He is in Rome on a holiday when he receives a mysterious phone call from his close friend, Father Cristoforo Ardemagni, asking to meet at Santa Brigida’s House. He sounded terrified. James heads there and finds his friend bleeding and broken as the base of some stairs. The last thing Cristoforo says before losing consciousness is “you were right.”
This is the set up for mystery that James Murphy needs to uncover in order to find out the secret that his friend stumbled upon. The game unfolds in a way which is easy to predict. James goes through the items that Cristoforo left behind. From there, he has to put together the clues in order to figure out where to go to continue unlocking the mystery.
The story that unfolds is a fairly dark one. There is corruption in the Catholic Church. The Vatican Bank (known as the Opere di Religione, or IOR for short) is somehow manipulating the Church behind the scene. Without giving too much away, the story is very good because it uses actual elements of the Catholic Church. There is controversy and rumor that surrounds the IOR. They make a very compelling antagonist. They are like a hidden cancer within the Church, corrupting it from within.
While the story is fairly good, the way the story progresses has some issues. The clues of the game are not always intuitive. Some of the clues are almost impossible to decipher or figure out how to implement. For example, James eventually will get his hands on Christoforo’s keys. They were located at Santa Brigida’s House. It would stand to reason that you could use his keys to get into his room, which may have been at the House. But there is never a point in the game where James even tries to find Christoforo’s room. James never looks for it nor even considers trying to find it. There is a section of the House where rooms are for rent, so it really did stand to reason that the keys would be used to enter one of these rooms. This was not the case at all. The keys were used eventually to unlock a secret compartment later on in the game.
This is not to say that the game is not highly enjoyable. The game developers are able to create interesting problems where the player has to use items that are picked up to move forward. Like in one case, James has to hide a phone in bushes in order to trick a guard to look for it so he could slip by. Simple and effective! So it is clear that the game developers have a good grasp of the medium they are working with.
The gameplay is simplistic, a standard point-and-click game. The player needs to use the mouse to click around the screen to find all the items. From there, the items are placed into the inventory. Some items can be combined while others can be simply interacted with.
The art in this game is magnificent. Lorenzo Ruggiero and Daniela Di Matteo creates a world which is simple and fun. The art is used to supplement the animated characters on screen. Those characters are made using stop-motion technology. It all comes together for an aesthetic experience that helps enhance the story and gameplay. The music is also incredible.
(Link: http://youtu.be/gyYgGFn85b0 )
Shadows on the Vatican Act I: Greed is worth a look.
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