A Genuinely Good Bible-Based Video Game? Surely Not!

It was with some excitement that I came across the website for Iceberg Interactive’s new game Adam’s Venture Episode 1: The Search for the Lost Garden. As I’ve shared previously, the landscape of the Christian video game market is littered with less-than-stellar experiences, and though not explicitly Christian, Adam’s Ventures’ “biblical overtones” clearly signal the developers’ intentions to make a fresh start in this difficult genre. It can’t go without mention that the whole product comes across as thoroughly professional, from their website through to the packaging and the game itself – this is nothing like those hacked Nintendo cartridges of early Christian gaming efforts. There’s clearly some proper financial backing behind the project which bodes well!

The game details the story of a character called Adam Venture on his hunt to track down the lost garden of Eden, helped by a couple of other characters who remain at base camp whilst you’re out exploring, and forms the first episode in what is intended as a series of three (according to this interview with the developers).


Playing the game, the first thing that strikes you is the graphics. They’ve made an excellent choice in basing the game upon the much-hyped Unreal 3 engine, and that’s supported with high quality 3D content to really make the most of it. I had to knock down some of the detail levels to get a full framerate on my slightly aged desktop, but it still looked great and they make it very straightforward to tweak the settings accordingly. There are some really nice little graphical effects throughout the game, such as when you burn your way through some overgrown plantlife, and the game world’s most mysterious inhabitant (which I won’t spoil for you!) There are one or two moments where a slightly odd camera angle makes the gameplay quite difficult, but overall the whole thing is very well done and is a delight to the eyes.


Having set themselves a very high quality bar with the graphics, it was always going to be a challenge for the gameplay to live up to that. Overall it makes for a fun experience, with a lot of similarities to games like Tombraider, though thoroughly non-violent. Ten “secrets” hidden throughout the game also add a nice bit of replay value, each one adding a little something to the backstory or sharing some pertinent Bible verse. I found about four on my first play through the game, which gives me a little incentive to give it another go at some point if I were so inclined.

As well as the usual jumping and climbing and generally having to navigate your way through the game world, there are also various puzzles that you encounter on your journey. More accurately, it’s really a single puzzle mechanic that is repeated numerous times with only the content varying: several times you come across a spindle featuring three identical discs, each containing three fragments of a Bible verse or a line from a well known Christian hymn. Either by knowing the verse already, or just by using your English grammar skills, the player has to rotate the discs until the verse reads in order. I have to confess that I didn’t find it to be a particularly compelling experience: either you know the verse or you don’t, and except in a few cases the verse isn’t especially explained or integrated into the rest of the game. It does add a bit of interest though, and makes for a change of pace every once in a while.

The other thing that people are likely to call the developers out on is the brevity of the game, but this requires a bit of explanation. I managed to play the game through in a couple of hours – though I was not trying especially hard to find all of the secrets. Personally, I think that compares fairly favourably with other episodic games, such as the new Monkey Island series from Telltale Games, although perhaps still slightly on the short side. For me it was basically one evening’s entertainment, with perhaps another couple at some point in the future if I went back for all of the secrets. Where it falls short, in my view, compared to Telltale’s offering, is in not making it crystal clear what the timeline and pricing structure for the other episodes will be. Take a look at Telltale’s website and you instantly know up front how much you’ll be paying in total (indeed, I paid a single flat fee for the whole series) and what the schedule for future episodes will be (roughly I get one episode of Tales of Monkey Island every month for six months). I imagine that Iceberg Interactive where limited by financial constraints at this point – they may not even know if a second episode will ever happen until they see how Episode 1 performs – but £15 just felt a little pricey for one evening. Prior to purchase, their website also left me a little unsure of whether “Episode 1” meant I was only going to be playing a fraction of a story, or whether it would be a complete experience in itself. I’m happy to report that it was a self-contained story (though with clear room for future expansion) so I wasn’t let down there. But I suspect that they’d be able to sell a lot more copies if they made that kind of detail clearer in their publicity material.

Christian Content

I’ll just briefly close by commenting on the Christian content of this game. Adam’s Venture is definitely not attempting to do anything like what I’m talking about in my Expository Coding series: they don’t set out to explain anything about the meaning or relevance of any Bible texts, but rather they use the geography and events of the Bible as a setting for their own story, much like Indiana Jones: Raiders of the Lost Ark. Various Bible verses appear throughout the game, which will appeal to Christian parents wondering if this game is suitable for their children, but they form a context rather than the focus of the gameplay.


All in all, I was very pleased with Adam’s Venture Episode 1: The Search for the Lost Gardens. It didn’t disappoint, and was a genuinely good game (unlike a few other Bible-based games I could mention!) I’d definitely recommend this to Christian parents wanting to buy their kids a Christmas present, and I think those who wouldn’t call themselves Christians should enjoy this game too. There’s definitely room for improvement in future episodes, but I suggest giving these guys a chance for a second outing by buying Adam’s Venture now!


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