Enter The Story: Genesis of the Gods
First posted on 15 August 2011. Last updated on 15 August 2011.
Genesis of the Gods is a literal translation of Hesoid's Theogony (Hesoid was a poet living in the time of Homer). Millenniums later, it has become another medium through which indie developer Chris Tolworthy voices his passions for adventure games. Inspired by classic literature, Tolworthy has burdened himself with the impending struggle to flesh out an original modern play of an old world paradigm: saving the world from destruction and restoring god's favor in humanity. From a glance, Enter the Story: Genesis of the Gods (the third game in the Enter The Story series) is not the typical fantasy adventure game: rather than building a game that predominantly revolves around the literal presence of gods effecting the rise and fall of civilizations, this is a game where angels, demigods, and gods themselves are the main characters.
In the beginning (pun intended), the great primordial god Ouranos (Uranus) desires to quarantine Earth by destroying humanity, a mythical story that resembles the flood stories of countless cultures. Playing as Peri, you find yourself divining a plan to placate the chagrined god from destroying what he had originally built by altering the time stream. As a guardian spirit, you are allowed to freely travel from Earth, to the chambers of heaven, and even into the unknown abyss (which comprise unlockable parts of the game). From the opening scene, it is evident how remarkably different Tolworthy's vision of this game is compared to other fantasy adventure games. Indeed, the game succeeds in offering up a charmingly dissimilar experience, in part because it introduces you to many familiar mythical characters that play different roles in Peri's cosmic adventure.
Even with the possible calamity of possessing such an enormous cast, the game's choice to play the main characters out of gods blends well with its uncertain journey. At the same time, however, I continue to be unsure of how much divine credit this game can spend outside of mortal grounds. Traditionally, games that deal with the divine keep it played to a minimum or else the omnipotent, vengeful god or goddess fulfill his or her ambitions in a blink of an eye. It goes without saying that such a god or goddess is unarguably an unfair character in a game, regardless of his or her alliance or opposition. This is true unless all of these divine beings play only a very limited role in the story. Tolworthy's game breaks this rule entirely, which will undoubtedly peak the interest of any gamer who likes to see the actions, motives, and mythical history being executed by the gods through Peri.
Yet, this game is much more than just an impending quest. It is also a philosophical journey: you cannot progress through the game without questioning humanity and its purpose in the universe. For example, the game begins with Peri and a university professor debating about god and humanity. This may come as no surprise to gamers who recognize the motives of Tolworthy. After all, it is his intention to create a game that tries to comprise the world of the gamer and the reader. Keeping this in mind makes it easier for me to register the economic value in creating a bridge between gamers who love classic epics but do not have access to them in the gaming world.
Using deities as game characters brings forth another quandary about the role of gods. Hypothetically speaking, the war between gods is different than war between people and nations. Thus, it can be imagined that whatever motives the gods have, the war is waged in the name of philosophy, since they are not after land, wealth, or any worldly pursuits. In this sense, Tolworthy must lend much of the story over to storytelling and intellectual conversation than playing a game. This is perhaps both the game's greatest strength and greatest weakness: while the adventure provides for a thoughtful inquiry into the nature of the world, the action within it is hard to come by. Case in point, when Peri decides to descend into a wormhole to travel back in time, the most action you receive is dodging comets. If the absence of much combat does not impede your interest, then this game is for you.
The fact that the game's environments and characters are depicted with only minimalistic graphics is probably conducive for Tolworthy to create other games in the series with more time and attention to detail. This means that more of the story will be drawn out for your quest. In a sense, this defeats the purpose of trying to finish a game in the light of gaining wisdom as your beginning and ultimate enterprise. Although this game leans more on its dialog for episodic inspiration, for gamers who enjoy the retelling of classic texts, Tolworthy has kept in mind the value of not wanting a story to end by a myriad of side information. Obviously, this is not a game with a linear narrative but more of a story in motion. This is impressively true too because Tolworthy plans to continuously update the epic timeline until all the titles in the Enter the Story series intermesh with each other as a collage of epic stories.
To Tolworthy's credit, the game's music is beautifully synchronized with the game's cosmic drama. I remember visiting the heavenly chambers and being struck by the ancient presence in the abode. For a short time, there is not much I can do in that place, but its picturesque scenery makes me think about all the possible conversations that may have once been held there.
In the end, what is the main objective of this game? At first blush, it seems rather simple: there are 8 legendary books that, when brought together and comprehended, can disclose the weakness of Ouranos. Ouranos, being unable to destroy the books, scatters them across the universe. Your objective is to claim all of these books and figure out how to stop Ouranos while traveling through the time stream. Although the plotline sounds intriguing enough, the actual gameplay is quite puzzling. Thorough gamers who are experienced at being mindful with exploring the environment will find themselves in a bind with what they need to do next. This is because, despite the interconnectivity of the worlds from the different stories, in practice, you have too many locations to which you can choose to travel without a sense of direction.
Despite all of the series' ingenuity, the fact that it tries to achieve the balance between mystery, romance, philosophy, science, theology, and (above all) gods, complimented with previous stories, makes it an extremely convoluted tale. Gamers who are familiar with Greek mythology are more likely to forgive the volumes of information that take away from the scarce gameplay. Otherwise, the game spells trouble of a developer who is trying too hard to reach a wider audience by including everything about everything.
Overall, the game makes for a satisfactory story that most adventure fans can enjoy. To this end, you do not have to try too hard to engage in an insightful narrative. However, you also need to take precaution that this will be a longwinded journey and will demand a great amount of patience to sit through. In fact, the less you focus on the game's main objective, the more you may find yourself enjoying the game. This seems strange to say, but Tolworthy has surely created a very different adventure game.