Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.

Left Behind: Eternal Forces

Spirituality almost never thrives in the logical rules of video games: Christian games usually just slap Roman centurions and Bible trivia over reheated action titles. And secular RPGs that let you choose a deity for your priest are really just letting you choose between stat bonuses. Ultima IV, a 1985 game that expected players to pity the weak and give money to beggars, remains one of the few titles that makes you practice what it preaches.

By putting more stress on converting your enemies than on killing them, Left Behind: Eternal Forces—a tie-in for the millions-selling book and movie franchise—becomes more pious than the average game. But it still plays like a budget strategy game at a premium price. It's been a year since the Rapture, and you're fighting the Antichrist, who assaults you with troops or demoralizes you with electric guitars and foul language. You'll build your forces by proselytizing everyone you run into, which is surprisingly fun; badger a few pedestrians, and suddenly you're leading an army of do-gooders in neat sweater vests. But the apocalypse is a letdown. The whole battle takes place in a drab Manhattan, and the Antichrist has the advantage: He doesn't have to wrestle with fluky controls, minions who can't follow orders, or chronic hangs and crashes. There's no good way to manage your forces or track your resources, and attacks are fast and hard to counter. The missionary work is much more fun than the military action—but if that's the lesson they're preaching, they sure make you learn it the hard way.

Beyond the game: The fun facts between missions will teach you the truth of the Bible and the sketchiness of evolutionary science. It also pushes Christian artists, in-game advertisers, and Duane Reade drugstores.


Worth playing for: The kitschy writing. When you first start wandering the streets, asking random New Yorkers if they've seen your pal Brad Clayton anywhere, you'll know this came from a flyover state.

Frustration sets in when: On top of resources that can't act independently and controls that damn you for mistakes that aren't your fault, the game resets most of your progress between missions—giving you no incentive to pray the extra mile.

Final judgment: Not half as fulfilling as God Hand.

Share This Story

Get our newsletter