Clive Barker, horror and fantasy author and director/producer of the cult favorite Hellraiser series that featured extradimensional beings known as Cenobites, was actually involved in shaping the development of a small handful of video games. Clive Barker’s Undying did get a lot of attention by the gaming media when it was released back in 2001; the game however did not do well commercially.
Clive Barker’s next game – Jericho was released in 2007, but it received mostly lukewarm reviews. Fast forward till today and here we are taking a look at Clive Barker’s Jericho – a surprisingly fun first person shooter that has you controlling seven members of an elite strike force set to battle paranormal threats with an array of modern weapons and paranormal abilities. The game features a unique team member switching mechanism, but best of all – it immerses you in the unbelievably dark and demented world inhabited by the Firstborn.
What you get
It’s been five years already, but Clive Barker’s Jericho still looks very good running on our Windows 7 gaming laptop. Lacking any multiplayer gameplay whatsoever, the game puts you in control of the Jericho Squad right from the start. The Jericho Squad is the combat arm of the Department of Occult Warfare and they have been sent to investigate a paranormal occurrence that is currently taking place in the arid Al-Khali desert.
The Squad is led by Captain Devin Ross and features a motley crew of three men and three women. Among the guys is a seer who acts as second in command, a dual pistol toting priest with experience in exorcism, and a machine gun wielding pyromancer who can set nearby enemies afire. The ladies are no less deadly – there is a sniper who possesses telekinetic skills, a blood mage who feels secure behind her Nodachi (Japanese field sword), and a hacker who has the power to teleport equipment and slow down time.
Jericho Squad is divided into two teams and you can access each by holding the spacebar down and using the arrow keys to select the team member you wish to control. Other keys allow you to activate the primary and secondary paranormal abilities of each team member, configure their weapon firing modes, and issue team commands. Mouse and controller support is also available so you don’t have to rely solely on the keyboard alone.
Every character has a special paranormal ability keyed to some function he or she must perform in-game. Take for example, the pyromancer who wields the machine gun – you need him to lift open heavy gates that block your way onwards. Another example would be the seer who is needed to project his consciousness into another being and activate switches nearby.
Should any of your team members become incapacitated in a raging battle, they will kneel down and a skull icon appears above them. You must then take control of another team member and walk over to heal the incapacitated character with a tap of the spacebar before he can further lend support fire. Unfortunately, you will be doing this quite often as team members tend to get clobbered by enemies too easily.
Another part of game play (featured at several points in the game) involve pre-scripted scenes where you must press a series of arrow keys in succession to survive the ordeal a team member has been exposed to. The very first pre-scripted scene you encounter in the beginning “tutorial” level has you trying to save Captain Ross from falling into a dark pit. This involves only a few key presses, but later scenes however throw at you slightly longer sequences.
If you are a Clive Barker fan, then you will be pleased to know that there are some really nightmarish looking creatures found in the game. The most frequent enemies are cultists – there are two kinds – normal and explosive types. The former are best taken down with headshots while the latter will need some careful aiming as you aim and shoot at disgusting yellow pustules growing on their mutilated bodies.
There are a couple of interesting bosses in Clive Barker’s Jericho. The first whom you meet is Arnold Leach – a former Department of Occult Warfare personnel and mastermind behind the current attempt to unleash the Firstborn into our world. Born from the fertile imagination of Clive Barker, the Firstborn are God’s first attempts at creating a being in His own image. Other bosses include monstrous beasts from different time periods, all converging at the crossroads that is Al-Khali.
The cutscenes in the game are quite interesting to watch; there is a distinctive look to the levels and enemies that is a trademark of all of Clive Barker’s creations. The early levels however look rather drab with gray and brown textures dressing every one of them. This is not helped by the linear design of levels and the the tight spaces where most battles are fought. Later levels are however much better; our favorite being the ones featuring a river of blood that you must wade through, with hulking behemoths lurking like amphibians under the muck.
The voice acting is very well done – especially with Steven Blum at the helm voicing the character of Captain Ross. Music is by Cris Velasco who has opted to add a haunting soprano solo to the opening scene that features the Firstborn. Some of the other musical pieces are grave and pack a powerful reverential feel to them, especially those with the full choir singing in the background. Sound design is decent and you will soon wish you never get to hear the buzzing of flies again – thanks to the sense of disgust you feel looking at the imagery of death and despair everywhere in the game.
Cliver Barker’s Jericho is a very interesting game that is targeted for mature audiences. We feel that the game was underrated when it was released and are glad to have revisited it today. The story may be far-fetched, but hey, it’s Cliver Barker after all, and at his very best. Perhaps the thing that matters most – at its current price point, this makes it a very good buy indeed.