[dropcap size=big]F[/dropcap]ortis Rex: Rise of the King is a non-linear open-world RPG developed by Ancient Realms Studios that has been funded over several Kickstarter campaigns and is currently on sale at Desura. The game is on its second alpha release, so it’s still an early access game at the moment. The developers have promised many things on their Kickstarter pages, their Steam Greenlight page, and their own website. What they don’t come outright and say, however, is that Fortis Rex is a Christian game.
I don’t mean that the devs are Christian, or that the game is inspired by biblical elements. I mean that Fortis Rex tells you that “Evil fears the name of Jesus Christ,” and that’s just in the character creation stage! In fact, there are a smattering of bible quotes sprinkled through the creation options, and several of the classes are directly inspired by Christian values and ideals. Add to that the only dialogue options I could find were the ones that boldly stated things like, “God is the High King!” and I would dare anyone to say this game doesn’t sound a little preachy.
Oddly enough, I think it all works for Fortis Rex. The game is a medieval based setting inspired by Arthurian legend, after all. Still, if I were a buyer trying to make an informed decision on whether or not to purchase this title, I’d like to know if the role I’m expected to play in the game is one of a devout Christian. It has nothing to do with prejudice, and everything to do with basic immersion. I mean, I can’t really feel as though this character I created was in fact my avatar if the only options I have are: worship Jesus and do good, or do anything else and get, well…punished.
When I emailed Ancient Realms for a comment, the lead developer of the studio, Justin Nelson, messaged me back promptly. Amidst justifications and reasons he provided for various elements and plans for the game, this was what I found most striking of his message:
[…]You have free will in Fortis Rex. You can choose to do evil, to take the evil path, if you so desire. There are many free will choices in the game, and sometimes the path is not clear, you may make a few mistakes, or you may make the mistakes on purpose, but the Good is always there in case you make a mistake, or two.
But that’s essentially what we want to do with Fortis Rex, we don’t want to label the game as a “Christian” game, because there are other mythological elements, such as some elements from the Arthurian Legend, as well as some other Myths and Legends, we feel that the Moral Lessons in the Bible are good ones to teach, to lead society away from being corrupt and unhappy, but to lead people to leave a lasting, Good legacy for the next generation.
And when he puts it like that, it does sort of sound nice. Yet the problem is that of perspective—namely that Ancient Realms seems to think that the Christian leanings in Fortis Rex won’t put people off just by virtue of what they’re standing for. That is a fallacious belief, I’m afraid. The message isn’t always the important thing. Sometimes, it’s about how it’s delivered, and in this case, I think many people might have a thing or two to say about buying a game they hadn’t been directly informed was so heavily faith-based.