Very rarely does a game come along with as interesting a premise as that of Messiah. Where else have you played as a little angel named Bob, a character you hardly ever see? As Bob, you must attempt to save the earth, essentially from itself. You must take over the beings of other characters and try to complete tasks in hopes of doing what is needed before the world is taken over.
The complex plot paired with an interest in Shiny Entertainment, Inc.'s former games (Earthworm Jim, etc.) caused a good deal of excitement on my part that the title would live up to its promise. In some ways Messiah does just that, but, unfortunately, there are some areas in which it fails to pull its own weight.
A major problem involves Messiah's control. You would think that by now a company would be able to create a control structure in which players would not have problems getting their character to reach certain areas on a board, to jump and so forth. Shiny Entertainment apparently didn't fix the mistakes of many of its precursors, however. Using a game pad causes nothing but trouble. It is next to impossible to jump in any sort of accurate manner, and getting your character to perform other actions is very difficult as well. It would have been nice if Shiny Entertainment had included some default joystick controls, as opposed to just the keyboard ones. This game needs to be played with a joystick, in my opinion, but the developers have made that quite difficult to do.
Getting away from the flaws of Messiah for a moment, we can move over to the graphics. Messiah looks rather good, although it is by no means technologically ahead of its time. The characters do tend to move smoothly, and the backgrounds, while somewhat blurry at points, are still detailed and realistic. One of the coolest things to see is when your character, Bob, emerges from the being he is in possession of. You see a flash, followed by a fluttering angel in a diaper. He then attempts to run (or fly) around, much to your dismay. You see, Bob is not very powerful at all in his own state. He must be in another being in order to complete the tasks that comprise Messiah.
The way Messiah works is that in addition to being in different characters, you must determine when to switch characters, because sometimes the body that you are in possession of is of no use to you anymore. When this occurs, you must find another being that you wish to take over and "depossess" your current character. You must then possess a different being before your former character notices you. If he or she does see you, they will likely begin to attack. As I said before, Bob is not at all powerful while out of a different character, so you will more than likely die in no time.
Yet the trouble with Messiah, in its simplest form, is that you never really know what to do. While the game does have puzzle elements, the developers seem to want to do something more. They want you to be lost and unsure of what to do. At first this is intriguing, as the basic storyline of the game and the idea that you can possess different characters is quite exciting. Once you realize that you have no idea of your goals, however, trouble tends to arise.
Graphics: Characters move smoothly and accurately. Backgrounds are detailed and extensive.
Sound: Heavy metal soundtrack and good ambient sound effects.
Enjoyment: The difficult-to-follow controls causes many problems.
Replay Value: First time through is usually the last time through.
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