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Wednesday, July 17, 2024

Stab sinners for the glory of Mean Jesus in this gnarly alt history RPG

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“Jesus did not die on the cross, but came down and unleashed vengeance on all the nonbelievers,” begins I, The Inquisitor‘s description on Steam. “1500 years later, an army of Inquisitors brutally enforce the faith.” Alright, I’m in.

I, The Inquisitor is based on a dark fantasy, alternate history novel series by Jacek Piekara started in 2008. There don’t seem to be English translations of his works yet, but I trust developer The Dust S.A.’s assertion that they’re bestsellers in Poland—they really know their dark fantasy over there.

What really excites me about I, The Inquisitor is its seeming emphasis on exploration and investigation over combat. And, again, that you’re playing a character who was inspired by Mean Jesus shrugging off the crucifixion to become a legendary ass-kicker. The suitably gothically-named protagonist, Mordimer Madderin, is handy enough with a sword, but the developer’s description focuses more on “enlightened sleuthing.”

“Track down and interrogate suspects,” it reads. “Discover the hidden truths of the city and its inhabitants. Piece together the evidence and make your final judgments.” Sounds nifty!

In this RPG fan’s humble opinion, multi-part investigation quests like those in Skyrim, The Witcher 3, and Neverwinter Nights 2 are some of the best in RPGs, and the phenomenal Disco Elysium centered an entire game on a murder investigation. If I, The Inquisitor is anything like those examples, it may wind up being exactly my thing.

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I do have to wonder just how brütal Piekara’s fictional setting manages to be compared to the horrors of our own history. After all, we had a Jesus who purportedly died on the cross professing a message of mercy and love and we still got a good 2,000 years and counting of schisms, pogroms, crusades (8 normal, one Children’s), inquisitions, reformations, counter-reformations, the Black Death, anti-popes, sieges, sacks, desecrations, hereditary slavery, colonial empires, and at least one bonfire of the vanities

The Inquisitor-verse is gonna have to be pretty dark to be worse than all that, even with a particularly ornery alternate Christ, though a rough translation on the back of Piekara’s Ja, Inkwizytor Mlot na czarownice suggests that Mean Jesus “drowned Jerusalem in blood” and it looks like demons are a very real force in this setting, so things can always get worse!

And hey, maybe another Polish dark fantasy series adapted from novels will take gaming by storm. (Look forward to an I, The Inquisitor Netflix series in Winter 2034.)

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