Mar 31, 2010

[Games] Black & White (PC)

Black & WhiteContinuing the Holy Week theme of entries, today we're going to revisit one of my favorite computer games of all time that also happens to have religious connections. Perfect!

God games are not new in the computer gaming world. One of the earliest games that I ever got into back in the day was Populous, which put you in the role of a classical Greek / Roman god controlling a group of followers dedicated to you. The game allowed you to do pretty much whatever was needed to inspire your followers to success and to eventually defeat the forces of an opposing deity. The game was wonderfully fun and helped feed anyone's latent thirst for power and godhood quite well.

There was never a game quite like it for many years and with the fall of Bullfrog as a gaming company, I doubted that there ever would be a game that could compare to how fun it was. Of course all this changed in 2001.

Black & White was a striking computer game released by Lionhead Stuidos that followed the concepts of god games like Populous very, very well. In the game, you're a young god trying to stake a claim in the universe and this means inspiring belief in your divinity. The game allowed you to choose either good or evil. Thus you can make your people love you by magically creating food or water as needed or you can make your followers fear you by destroying parts of their village or throwing their cows and other livestock into the ocean.

Your principal mover in the worlds that you try to conquer through belief is your creature, a giant animal that you can also shape into a creature that is good or evil as well. Good creatures are shown love and affection and later on can perform small miracles to benefit the community. Evil creatures are abused by your slapping hand and are not given enough food and thus they terrorize the villagers by defecating on their crops or eating their children.

The game was completely open-ended in terms of the path you can take towards growing in divine power and there was no perfectly "best" or "right" path to follow. Progress in the game is pretty much measured by conquering each stage where you're first introduced to all your godly abilities and then eventually you realize there's more to the world than just your rise to power given the presence of other gods. Thus the game's overall plot, which is also rather rich and fulfilling, leads you along the path to stopping one such god from gaining dominance over all of creation. There's plenty of room for all you after all.

The game was just so mind-blowing in terms of its creativity and the open gaming environment meant that you could play and replay the game in any which way you chose and come out with different paths to success. The freedom of teh game plus the novelty of the entire concept with a generous dose of gamer humor gave me hours upon hours of playing time. It's a shame I never got around to trying out the expansion pack or the sequel and I'll definitely need to revisit this game sometime soon.

So you don't just need to reflect on the powers of your god(s) this Holy Week, try becoming one! You should still be able to find original copies of this game at your nearest Datablitz.

Black & White more than deserves 5 rampaging evil cows out of 5.

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