From 2010 to 2014 Richard Cobbett wrote Crapshoot, a column about bringing random obscure games back into the light. This week he does the Lord's work by bringing us The Greatest Story Ever Told to life via the medium of... a hacked-up wrestling game engine. Yes. Really.
Everything went wrong when I accidentally kicked Jesus in the balls.
"Hey, what's your problem?" demanded the Lamb of God. "Touch me again and I'll kill you!"
The You Testament is the best worst game ever.
Where to begin... where to begin? How about with the fact The You Testament isn't a comedy. It's a genuine, serious Bible-themed game with a Gore setting in the Options menu, and that Gore setting defaults to "Extreme". It's a game whose characters—including your own—are randomly generated, and can be up to 11-feet tall, with quiffs. It's a game with AI so bloodthirsty the very first scene features John the Baptist getting into a punch-up mid-baptism, while Jesus calmly looks on from the banks.
Oh, and it's a game where you can opt to play an integral part in the Gospels as an effeminate disciple called Lucifer. Believe it or not, this doesn't make the game any sillier at all. How can it? It's a Bible game that quotes Obi-Wan Kenobi, and has Jesus Christ himself tell you "The force is strong with you!"
(It also quotes Jay-Z. And Spider-Man. And an anonymous guy complaining about quotes.)
The You Testament is a ridiculously simple game, in which the main thing you have to do is walk from scene to scene without being arrested, killed, or getting so hungry/insane that you collapse to the ground weeping and start beating people up in a Vampire-style frenzy. You also have to stop your brain dribbling out of your nose at all the stupid. For that, I recommend a pair of very large corks.
But let's not get ahead of ourselves. In The You Testament, you play an unknown Disciple who stumbles across Jesus while out for a stroll, and demands to know what he's doing sitting around "like a filthy beggar when the Messiah himself walks among us?!" For no apparent reason except wanting to see your face when the penny finally drops, Jesus takes you under his wing, and off you head to explore the biblical world.
It's probably not how you imagined it to be, not least because someone apparently dropped a vial of the Rage virus before you arrived. Fights break out constantly, and you really don't want to be caught in the middle, not specifically because violence is bad, but because if you die, The You Testament deletes your character and makes you start the whole game again.
Making your way to Galilee to be initiated, and quite probably with a fight going on around you, Jesus agrees to teach you to become 'a perfect vessel through which divinity flows' via meditation. Okay. This involves opening 'your third eye to an inner world – the real world!”. Not quite so OK. Meditation generates spiritual energy called 'prana' (a Hindu concept, but never mind) and lets you cast magic spells. Yes, magic spells. When Jesus dismisses a nearby well on the grounds that "if you drink of this water you will be thirsty again", you might think he's making a point about physical needs versus spiritual enlightenment. He's not. He's teaching you the 'Create Food' spell. Later, you get to throw fireballs!
See, it's just like science—only not!
Being the Apostle equivalent of Anakin Skywalker is only the start of your spiritual journey though, as Jesus finally decides to show off his miracle skills, turning Whatever into Wine at the Marriage at Cana. It's meant to be water of course, but since he just asks you to bring him any old object, it could just as easily be an existing cup of wine. Wine into wine? Truly, he is the Messiah!
Unfortunately, he immediately gets kicked out of the Magic Circle by immediately telling you how the trick is done, in public no less, and renders it much less impressive by handing you the Manifestation power to try it out for yourself. This gives you the power to create any object you like, as well as magically throw anything from swords to combat melons out of your palms. Not fireballs though. Not yet. You need to be evil for that.
As grateful as you should be for this chance at being crucified for sorcery, The You Testament's version of Jesus really does deserve the occasional kick in the Gospels. For most of the game, he's nothing short of a colossal, ungrateful dick who loves nothing more than barking orders, dismissing everyone around him, and most amazingly, making you do some of his miracles because he can't be bothered to do them himself. The game slaps a highlighted Biblical reference onto absolutely everything, but they rarely have anything much, if anything, to do with what's going on.
Take an early scene where, having met up with Jesus, you track him down again to become a fully fledged Disciple. This is linked to Matthew 15:26, which simply reads: "He replied, "It is not right to take the children's bread and toss it to their dogs." In the original text, this is a response given to a Gentile woman who begs Jesus to heal her sick child. In the game, it's Jesus talking to you, a fellow Jew (which utterly destroys the quote's context) and someone he already knows to be a believer.
See also Wonka 15:26: "You stole fizzy lifting philosophy! You bumped into the secrets of the universe which now have to be washed and sterilized, so you get nothing! You lose! Good day, sir!"
Here's another example. In Luke, there's a passage in which Jesus' mother comes to see him, but is unable to get close due to the crowd. He responds by saying that being relatives doesn't make them special, and that his mother and brethren are anybody who hears the word of God. This is handled... slightly differently in the game, with Mary simply asking that he come see her at some point, and Jesus flat out telling you that he's far too busy farting around Stonehenge to bother with such trivial matters.
Well, someone's not getting an Xbox for Himselfmas.
But back to Miracles. Once you've been taught to Meditate (er, hold down the spacebar), the powers just keep on coming. It takes forever to trigger abilities, and actually aiming them is next to impossible. Still, The You Testament makes up for this in terms of volume. Barely a few scenes after Jesus teaches you how to hurl knives from your hands in praise of God, he gives you Force Pull—or Magnetism, as he calls it—which he's just used to gather a crowd of random people to hear him preach.
It's clearly super-effective if it brought this guy out of the city for the day:
"Attracting a following is all well and good, but how are we going to feed these people?" you ask, only to have Jesus practically roll his eyes at you. "Have I not taught you to manifest anything you desire?" he demands. "Make it your desire to feed these people!"
Bloody slacker. I don't remember the Miracle of the Telling Some Other Guy To Feed The Five Thousand. Anyway, shortly after cutting your teeth on that, he rewards you with the Hypnosis spell, and the incredibly glitchy Levitation. Best of all though is Possession, which Jesus gives you for absolutely no good reason, before making the critical mistake of telling you that it works on absolutely anybody.
Yes, including Him. Especially Him. Don't pretend you wouldn't have tried...
Eventually, having made you into a whole team of the X-Men for no apparent reason, Jesus finally starts getting a little concerned about how many phenomenal cosmic powers he's handed you, and warns you that you just might want to keep them a little bit under wraps to avoid drawing undue attention. He delivers this lecture while casually strutting around on the waters of Galilee in front of a crowd, but whatever. You can't argue with the logic. He also adds that Satan may start showing up to try and tempt you from the path of light, but is careful/smart enough not to mention the whole 'wages of sin are awesome fireballs' thing to your face. Your grinning, constantly-bruised-and-bloodied-by-random-assholes face.
Even with insane powers, avoiding trouble is actually pretty important. As mentioned, every area is full of people infected with the Rage virus, and if you die, you die. There's more to worry about though, and especially the guards. They enforce the most mindblowingly petty, bizarre rules, making you sit down at night, not sit down during the day (including to Meditate, so it's lucky that there are cheat-codes to speed that up) and are happy to beat you senseless for absolutely no reason other than that they don't like your face. Well, that bit's realistic at least.
If you get arrested, you're immediately whisked off to court along with another criminal, and the audience gets to choose which one of you is set free and which has to face Justice. (In case you're wondering, no, this wasn't standard procedure back then). The unlucky one might lose a limb, be sent to jail, or get crucified, which would really be a problem if you couldn't glitch your way off the cross, nails through palms and everything. At least you don't have to restart.
Soon enough though, it's Jesus who needs help. You find him locked in a cell for not paying taxes, and while he's completely apathetic about the whole thing, you decide to do whatever you can to break him out. Chances are this involves finding someone holding a bag of money, punching them in the face, picking it up off the ground, and walking away before they can launch a counter-attack—but luckily nobody seems to care where the cash came from.
In recognition of your progress and devotion, and not content to have given you (rather than, say, Peter) phenomenal cosmic powers in the middle of the Rage-infected warzone, Jesus decides that he's finally ready to show you the truth of the world.
Want to see the truth of the world? I too will show you the truth of the world...
Sorry. Lost the ability to type there for a second. Yes, after getting control over flight, the psyches of everyone you meet, magic food generation, hypnosis, and with the option of siding with the forces of darkness later on, you're given the power... to play the game in wireframe mode.
This is not a joke. This really happens.
Seeing the Matrix isn't the end of the game, but it's as far as I got in this playthrough. Shortly after this revelation, my character's legs exploded for no apparent reason and I died instantly. I took this as a Sign. I could have started again. I decided not to. Free will, baby. I'll burn the world some other day.
Speaking of which, here's the lamest threat ever:
The You Testament is... amazing. Its credits screen boasts that it was put together in just three months, and it shows. It's packed full of obvious misinterpretation and just absolutely insane game-versions of passages from the original texts (and I speak as an athiest, albeit one who has actually read the Bible), not to mention hacked-together scenes that leave you staring in genuine wonder at Jesus turning a sword into wine while Mary beats up onlookers with a 2x4 plank. Yes, it's tedious constantly running from one side of the map to the other just to hear lousy dialogue, but you can't get away from the fact that this is a religious game which lets you mind control Jesus Christ and make him punch people in the face . That one fact alone makes this the second most incredible Bible game ever created, ever.
What's that? You want to see the first?
Okay then. But beware: you are genuinely not ready for this level of religion...
(Skip to the four-minute mark for game footage)
As hilari-bad as The You Testament is, it's worth noting that it spawned a sequel, The Making Of A Prophet. It's basically the exact same game, except about Mohammed. Check out the Let's Play here if you're interested in seeing that - along with a quick snippet of the creator's previous game, Hard Time. If you want to experience the joys of The You Testament for yourself, click here to download it .
The service is over. Go in peace. Amen.