Genesis of the Gods review

Genesis of the Gods
Genesis of the Gods
The Good:
  • Fine art and contemporary graphics combined in a cohesive look
  • Classical-style soundtrack fits setting
  • Source material well-researched
  • Thought-provoking dialogue
The Bad:
  • Overly linear storyline
  • Limited puzzles
  • Obscure object hunts
  • Blocked areas to unreleased games becomes intrusive, extensive philosophical discussions may prove overwhelming
Our Verdict: Though Genesis of the Gods provides some intellectual challenges, the fact that they come more from abstract philosophy than gameplay will limit its appeal.
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Having previously been taken through the afterlife in The Divine Comedy, I felt sure that subsequent games in the Enter the Story series would focus on less grandiose subjects. Genesis of the Gods, the newest instalment, soon disabused me of that notion. Based on an epic 6th century BC poem by Hesiod called "The Theogony", players find themselves tasked with the all-too-common adventure endeavour of saving the Earth. This time, however, rather than facing a challenge in the present, you must travel back to the dawn of time and recreate the Earth in such a way that it will not be destroyed. Sadly, the freedom implied in being asked to build the Earth from scratch fails to materialise in an experience that's more education in Greek myth than game.

The year is 2012 and Peri, the spirit heroine of the previous two games in the series, has been having visions of the near future. Ouranos, embodiment of the fundamental laws of the universe, has decided to eradicate all life on Earth. With the aid of Virgil, also returning from the previous episode, Peri now seeks a way to prevent this impending disaster. Virgil thinks that the eight sibylline books containing the secrets of the gods hold the answer to the problem. Whilst the search for these ancient volumes serves as an overarching quest throughout the story, your journey will lead you to the void before the world was formed to display some godlike powers of your own.

Those excited by such megalomaniacal possibilities will be disappointed to learn, however, that the progression of the world is firmly tied to the Greek myths that were the subject of the original text. You will witness the rise of the Titans, assist in their subsequent overthrow by the first gods, and lead the ensuing pantheon to creating a better mankind. The most striking feature of this story is its contrast to the previous game. Dante’s adventure was quite clearly set in a Christian universe, and finding Peri suddenly allied with the Greek gods, without any real explanation of the change in theology, is a bit jarring in a series that’s meant to be cohesively connected.

The dialogue in Genesis is once again extensive, offering ample opportunity to engage in philosophical debates over whether mankind is worth the effort with the various divine entities in play. These are not mere dismissals of humanity, but rather give considered reasoning of each point of view, often spanning several conversations. Whilst mostly unnecessary for completing the game, I found these intellectual discourses stimulating enough to follow through to the end in most cases. However, the sheer number of such debates available, starting with Ouranos and continuing with the Titans and the Greek gods, may prove too much for those seeking to play rather than philosophize.

This volume of discourse makes it unsurprising that the dialogue remains unvoiced. However, the musical soundtrack is still of a high quality, including classical music and mixes with more contemporary pieces. All of them form a suitable background to the cultural setting, with soothing numbers giving way to more dramatic works when the story calls for it. Some tracks, such as “Gnomus” from Mussorgsky's Pictures at an Exhibition, appeared in the last instalment as well, but this game doesn’t suffer for the similarity, and indeed the recycling may help to tie the games together for players who follow the intended route of dipping in and out of each story.

Unlike the previous two games, Peri is now a presence on-screen throughout, making this a fully third-person game. Despite this change, the control system from the earlier titles is maintained for the most part. Peri directs characters’ thoughts by right-clicking an individual and then right-clicking other people or objects to make them interact. This includes Peri herself, with an initial right-click required to get her to perform most actions. Fail to do so and no amount of clicking will elicit a response about any object. There are a couple of refinements this time around, however. The first click attaches a label to the cursor saying whose thoughts are being guided. This stays on-screen at all times the cursor is not pointing at another person or object, reminding you which character you are currently trying to influence. Also, Peri now changes location when you left-click on an exit, saving the double right-click previously required to move visible characters about. In areas where Peri extends her angelic wings to fly, she moves towards the cursor at all times. This can be frustrating on occasion, as she can easily drift in front of objects you realise you want to click on, forcing you to lure her away before trying again.

The graphics in Genesis of the Gods once more use an amalgam of classic paintings, adapted photographs, and images gleaned from around the ‘net. Despite the disparate sources, these have been blended together into an effective overall look. This translates well across the whole game, without any scenes feeling discordant from the rest as you travel from the heights of the Olympian heavens to the depths of primeval earth in your quest to save the human race. Characters are still displayed in a black and white line style, with animation clearly based on actual human movement. With the entire Greek pantheon to represent, the character list is quite large and some peculiarities have crept in. Using the same character model from her physical emergence in the previous game, Peri the angel still appears to be carrying a handbag over one arm, and I was surprised that Nike, a goddess, would need glasses. Despite these small anomalies, however, the characters appear to have been well-chosen, with the apparel and posture of the gods especially in keeping with their traditional look and spheres of influence. Hera has the tolerant smile of a benevolent mother of the gods whilst Dionysus, god of wine, looks suitably dissolute.

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Adventure games by Chris Tolworthy

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