Brand new games do not usually launch for just £3.99, and it’s even more rare for games to feature Jesus texting Satan and his dad… who is a pigeon for some reason. As improbable as all of this sounds, that is exactly what happened last week when The Saviour’s Gang landed on PlayStation 4, almost a year after it launched on PC. I decided to take a gamble and spend some of the £10 credit Sony had given me recently, mostly because I was curious about the game. Turns out it’s not half bad.
The Python-esque intro explains that, after being crucified, Jesus – or more precisely The Saviour – couldn’t actually get in to heaven and must now guide worshippers to the promised land. What that actually means is that you get to control a white circle which the worshippers follow with devoted adoration, winding your way through a series of levels. To make things a little more difficult, the almighty God pigeon has decided to place circular saws, rockfalls, Indiana Jones style rolling boulders, and clouds of poisonous gas in your way. How very Old Testament.
You begin each level with a small number of worshippers who follow your commands in a loose group. They have no free will, so if you point them in the direction of a circular saw you will soon see their blood splattered across the screen. They’re also quite dumb, the more worshippers you have the more difficult it is for them to sneak past the dangers as they don’t run in a straight line but as a group. Slipping between large, pointy sticks is much harder when Denise at the back is insisting on social distancing and lagging behind everyone else.
If you do lose your followers, each level has a golden chalice that can be found which resurrects some of their numbers, and there are other collectables which do.., something. The game has no text to explain what they are for, or indeed what the power ups do, but you can still go and spend souls on them in Satan’s shop.
While the wandering / mass murder is going on, God, Jesus, Mary, Joseph, Satan, and various other religious icons have a Whatsapp group chat on the side of the screen complete with gifs. It’s a bit odd, and while some of the jokes land, it’s very hard to read what is going on whilst also trying not get your worshippers spiked on very pointy sticks. Your followers also get to see the light (quite literally) once a level when you appear as a floating, glowing human shape in the level and spout lines directly lifted from the Bible.
As you progress through the levels, the way to enlightenment becomes more convoluted and you have to start back tracking, flicking switches and pushing boxes around, but that’s about it. Learn the patterns, avoid the pointy things, chuckle at some bants, collect the doodahs, finish the level. The game is shallower than a Kardashian at a photo-shoot, although it it does have three difficulty levels if you want to make things a bit more murderous.