With the recent announcement of Far Cry 5 and its rather controversial religious themes, I took it upon myself to make a list of other games that also had some rather touchy religious themes in them.
Some of these make Far Cry 5 look like a walk in through Hope County.
Bioshock Infinite was once described as one of the “most deeply Christian games” in history. While I will not go as far as to say this is true, it did have some heavy depictions of religion.
The issue here is that however far from religion you try to make the game, you cannot deny that its heavy themes stem from the prophet Zachary Comstock, who in the end created a city in the sky that has been built on a belief that only the pure may enter.
This may scream “the Rapture”, but it really is nothing more than a right of passage.
Comstock does not see himself as a God, but rather as a messenger of an almighty power who has given him the vision to build Columbia.
While the game drops heavy Christian words like “the Lamb, and “Eden and Sodom”, Comstock’s religious references go more in the direction of a real-world prophet using Mormonism.
He is a leader with no holy powers who uses his words and wisdom to guide people in a new direction and save people from the evil “real world”.
While Bioshock Infinite came across as a game with heavy religious concepts, Comstock’s society was just a brainwashed cult movement disguised as a religion.
Unitology is the driving force behind Dead Space’s core story, and if you ask me it is probably one of the densest fictional religions every created in a video game.
Unitologists believe that the human race was created by the intelligent design of a divine alien agency and will be reunified after death in heaven through the power of a sacred artifact known as the Marker.
While Unitology is quite a far-fetched take on religion, it still draws from some of the most radical extremists in our world. A central idea is that death should be celebrated rather than mourned.
Burying and cremation of a person are forbidden as they believed that the body will one day come back to life to relive as a greater community. This, in the end, was the downfall of society when the Marker was actually the power behind the reanimation of the dead.
In Halo, the entire game is based on a religion that worships an ancient alien race known as the Forerunners. These beings are all-powerful creatures who were believed to have discovered a method to transcend the physical world and achieve divinity.
These transcendent moments were supposedly only possible through giant installations in the galaxy called Halos or “sacred rings” according to the Covenant.
The entire religion, or belief system more like it, is based on the desire to reclaim these lost monoliths which were once Forerunner technology. Once a Halo was activated, these chosen Covenant will be able to transcend the limitations of the physical world and walk among the ancient Forerunners as divine beings.
Call it the Rapture in space though, as any species that were not “worthy” of transcending into a new world would be left behind.
“All who believe will be saved” is one of the biggest themes in the series as the war breaks out to prevent these Covenant from activating these rings.
Final Fantasy X
While Final Fantasy is one of my favourite video game series ever, it also has some heavy religious themes going on in them all. Final Fantasy X, in particular, was one of the best in the series, and it was a game that touched on a very sensitive subject regarding organised religion.
The people of Spira follow a faith called Yevon, which was created by a summoner named Yu Yevon a thousand years ago.
All the people of Spira follow this faith and it draws inspiration from modern day teachings like Buddhism and Islamic.
The symbolism of Yevon in Final Fantasy X plays strongly into the misuse of religion in today’s world. Yevon speaks of saving the world from repeating the mistakes of the past in the great Machina War, in which people now suffer every five year from the creation of Sin, an all-powerful creature that kills due to a frenzy.
Yevon, in the end, turns out to be corrupt and has its worshippers follow a blind leader who spreads lies in order to keep his faith intact.
The people of Spira are brainwashed to believe that the faith is true, meanwhile, it is built on strong political powers rather than any concrete beliefs. This again is a strong debate in modern religion.
While the latest Assassin’s Creed games have shifted away from these idealisms, the original few, especially the first game, were games that touched on heavily religious themes, especially Christianity.
While the series tends to move in a different direction from what we know and some of us believe, the Templars and the beliefs that play alongside the various eras in which the games are set, do have their own belief system.
Often in the series, especially in the second instalment and trilogy, the Christian faith is questioned a few times as it is littered with these Templars who have mixed interest in the Church.
The Renaissance popes were often depicted as villainous rather than men of peace and the entire struggle in the series has been against some sort of men with power.
Still, the Assassin’s Creed series pushes the boundaries when it comes to twisting history to its will. So far Ubisoft still manages to take faith we all know and create fictional versions of it while making us question our own beliefs in the game.