Philosophers have been debating what is evil and what drives evil since the terms were given words. The immortal struggle against good is the underpinning of most of the human endeavour, and as such the underpinning of drama, and entertainment, from the most grounded to the bizarre. In 2007, Clive Barker set out to create a video game in which this immortal battle could be fought, as the player takes a trip through Jericho.
When a crack team of religious government commandos, codenamed Jericho, track down the evil Arnold Leach, they hunt him down to the long-forgotten city of Al-Khali. Things turn sour as an army of unholy monsters is there to meet the team. After fighting to the centre of the city, A mysterious artefact Sends the team throughout time, to the lowest points of humanity’s existence to fight a cabal of fallen mortals corrupted by the power of pure evil. They must use their teamwork and a whole lot of lead to survive.
Despite its age Jericho still looks impressive, I hold this up to the fanciful character design, especially in the horrible monstrosities you fight along the way, with enemies looking like they visit Pinhead’s stylist, A testament to the imagination that they look so grotesque and mange to feel organic to the missions. The selection of levels is intriguing, taking a Daikatana-like tour across four theatres of the darkest points in human history. With Ancient Sumeria, W.W.2, Imperial Rome are just some of the warped and realised locations you’ll fight demons in.
Your team of seven are given distinct personalities, and quips, like a proto-hero shooter, you’re likely to pick the toolset you feel comfortable with, and Jericho offers an arsenal of inventive armaments and tools. Plot-related McGuffin gives the player the ability to process other teammates, allowing you to use their skills for the utmost tactical advantage. Need to take out a bunch of W.W.2 era pillbox bunkers? Use the nimble bomb expert on any of the other uniquely equipped commandos. The enemies quickly adapt so you can’t just unload your weapons into them freestyle, a lot have special requirements (e.g. boils that need to be targeted) before they go down. If this proves challenging the game also has a unique cheat system, involving Premium phone lines, and specially encrypted data, it’s a novel approach but I can see why it didn’t catch on.
Jericho feels like what would happen if Rob Zombie was given creative control of an action movie. It’s gory to the extreme and extremely testosterone-laden, a heady concoction of fist-pumping moments and frights. With a collection of concept art and challenges to reward replays, it’s a game I’d recommend trying out at least once. If Jericho goes headfirst into what it means to be evil, I wouldn’t want it to be good.
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