Christmas is nigh, and I can’t think of a better way to celebrate than by playing a game about Jesus Christ, a guy who most likely was not actually born on Christmas.
Well, honestly, I can think of better ways to celebrate Christmas. Lots of them! But I decided to play the prologue of I am Jesus Christ (opens in new tab) anyway. It’s a first-person game where you’re Jesus (Christ) and you “follow the same path as Jesus Christ, from his baptism to the resurrection.” The prologue only covers the first few chapters of the game, but you still get to do a lot of Jesus stuff, like meet John the Baptist, get tested by Satan in the desert, perform a few miracles, and use blocks and telekinesis to solve traversal puzzles.
Just like Jesus did.
As for me, I’m a heathen whose experience with organized religion begins and ends with me joining a youth group at the age of 16 because I had a crush on a girl. Yes, I only went to church because I was horny. To atone for this sin (and hopefully many others) I’m hoping to learn some real stuff about Jesus. Whenever I do, I’ll insert a “fun fact” about Christ I learned from this game. Here’s the first one:
Jesus fun fact: A lot of his life was taken up by loading screens.
After an introductory movie, which includes the sight of dinosaurs roaming the Earth (honestly, I wasn’t expecting that at all) we get a cutscene about the birth of Jesus, which like Spider-Man’s origin story I think we’re all pretty damn familiar with by now. The manger, the angel, the wise men, all that jazz. Then… smash cut! Jesus wakes up at age 30, a full-grown adult who still lives with his mom, Mary. Mary tells me (I’m Jesus, remember) that she’s heard that John the Baptist is a cool guy (that’s not a direct quote) and I should track him down.
As a 30-year old Jesus, I’m somewhat surprised to discover I have a compass on my HUD. I’m not saying Jesus didn’t have an innate sense of direction, but it’s still weird to see a PUBG-like directional indicator on the screen. Just the idea of Jesus having a HUD at all is weird, too. In fact, when you’re inhabiting Jesus, just about every normal videogame element feels out of place.
Jesus fun fact: He says “OK” more than you’d think
Jesus can sprint, for example. I don’t know why that’s so strange, and I’m not saying Jesus never had cause to sprint in his life, but something just feels wrong about making The Son of God run around at top speed. Jesus can also hop, and when you combine that with sprinting and several town maps where there’s literally nothing to do but cross the town to get to your objective, that basically means I made Jesus do a bit of parkour. Even as a non-religious guy, I feel guilty about this. Forgive me.
After asking around town about John the Baptist, I go back home to tell Mary I’m outta here (Jeez, Jesus, you don’t have to tell your Mom everything, you’re 30) and head out to find John, gathering berries to eat along the way which makes me briefly worry this is a survival game. (It’s not.) I reach the river and rudely cut the line of people waiting to be baptized, which feels very un-Jesus-like to me.
John baptizes me hard—the stock audio sound effect splash sounds like Jesus doing a cannonball off a two-story roof into a pool rather than the gentle lowering into a river you might expect. The crowd on the bank applauds. Someone, and I am not making this up, says “Woohoo.” (You can turn on the sound in the gif below if you think I am bearing false witness against the Woohoo guy.)
Imagine being that guy. Imagine being the guy who witnessed the baptism of Jesus and yelled “Woohoo.”
From there I wander out into the desert for 40 days, where I don’t eat, or drink, or do anything but pray as Satan repeatedly tempts me with loot boxes. Nice try, devil! Jesus was not into pay-to-win or microtransactions.
Jesus fun fact: To perform miracles he enters “Holy Spirit Mode” by pressing Tab
An angel appears and teaches me how to “dodge blasts,” something Jesus apparently had to do. I can also reflect blasts back, like Nintendo 64 Link swinging his sword, and I can pull my enemies closer to me using divine telekinesis, which I guess is the Jesus equivalent of a grappling hook. At this point I’m pretty sure all Bible canon has been thrown out and Jesus is gonna wind up on a quest for double-jump sandals, but this is all practice for the showdown with Satan (who appears this time as a giant glowing donut) who has given up tempting me with worldly comforts and is just trying to straight-up murk me. I grapplehook him, deflect his blasts back into him, and knock down his health meter until he tells me he’s going to take over the world, laughs menacingly, and dips.
Having established that I need to rid the world of Satan, I use my Jesus powers to destroy giant black crystals Satan scattered around. Again, I don’t think this is straight out of the bible, but breaking Satan’s crystals lets me “reclaim territory” (so now it’s a control point map?) and recruit a couple of fishermen, who are so impressed that I can use telekinesis to push fish into their nets that they give up fishing. More telekinesis follows as in some sort of pocket dimension I have to spawn a block to hold down a pressure plate so a stairway appears, like Portal’s companion cube, but holy. Then I levitate a piece of wood across a gap to use as a bridge. Walking on water isn’t gonna be enough for Videogame Jesus, I guess.
Jesus fun fact: He turned way too much water into wine
Finally, I get to perform a miracle I’ve actually heard of. I attend a wedding where the groom has run out of wine, truly a cause for panic. I wave my hands over three enormous casks of water, transmuting it into what appears to be approximately 150 gallons of wine, which seems absolutely overkill for this little wedding. How drunk are they planning to get?
But that’s not the part that really bugs me. First I make the wine attendant taste the wine, and then I go get the groom and also make him taste the wine, and then I spend what feels like far too much time explaining to both of them that it was I, Jesus, who made the water into wine. Look, I get it. I’m young, cocky Jesus, I’ve got cool new party-saving powers, I’m just starting my battle against Satan, and I need to whip up some good PR. Get my name out there. Let the world know: Yeah, I’m the water-into-wine guy. Tell your friends. It just doesn’t feel all that humble, which goes counter to my admittedly limited understanding of JC.
Jesus fun fact: He can shrink down and enter your veins
The final miracle of the prologue is even weirder, as a Roman officer’s son is sick and I leave my body, travel 20 miles as a ghost, then heal the kid by plunging into his veins and battling against a virus. That’s not a metaphor, I am literally shrunk down and am walking around in this child’s veins, pointing my hands at huge, icky viruses that are in the same shape as all those COVID-19 graphics we see on the news. I won’t look up the actual bible verse, but I’m pretty sure this isn’t quite how it happened.
Somewhere in the bible is a passage saying something about not judging others, but as we’ve established: I’m a godless heathen. So I’ll say the prologue of I Am Jesus Christ has way too many loading screens, less-than convincing NPCs, and Jesus says “OK” on several occasions which just feels wrong. No matter your beliefs, I don’t think anyone would buy that Jesus went all Fantastic Voyage on a kid to cure him, or that he had a magic grappling hook, or that he used blocks to weigh down pressure plates so he could solve traversal puzzles.
As for the compass on the HUD? Actually, I’m starting to warm up to that concept. Why couldn’t Jesus have had a compass on his HUD? Show me the part of the bible where it says he didn’t.