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Review: Captain Bible in The Dome of Darkness

At a Glance

This game is recommended!
While there are many great games out there, this is one manages to be good fun and stay fairly true to Christian moral values.

If you're looking to add a new game to your collection, consider this one!

ESRB Rating: NR - Not Rated
My Rating: Everyone
Genre: Trivia / Adventure
License: Freeware / Commercial
Release Year: 1994
Review Published On: October 21st, 2020
Played on: Martha

Available from:

See below

Save System:

Being a DOS* game, there is no autosave*. Instead, you need to select SAVE GAME from the menu to record your progress. There are several save slots* to choose between, so multiple games can be in progress at any one time.

Surprisingly, you DO need to pause the game by bringing up the menu, viewing your Bible, or by viewing your map. Leaving the game sitting leaves Captain Bible vulnerable to attacks by roaming Cybers!

Summary of
Major Issues:

Captain Bible fights robotic enemies, causing them to explode upon defeat, and some of the questions are about sexual behavior.

Both of these are optional, and can be disabled upon installation. As this game was intended for kids, both topics are kept as family-friendly as possible.

Screenshots

[view screenshot]
A literal wolf in sheep's clothing

[view screenshot]
Preparing to confront a Cyber

[view screenshot]
Genesis 3:14-15, revisited



Game Overview

It's typically a bad sign when a game is primarily marketed as being "educational" or "Christian"; games like this usually place so much emphasis on teaching their material that they forget about being entertaining, making these games little more than a virtual classroom. Alternatively the developers end up going in too far in the opposite direction, creating a game that's fun to play but actually teaches very little. Or to put it another way, if the former was too busy being a classroom, this other group is too busy being recess.

Captain Bible in the Dome of Darkness is one of those rare examples that managed to hit a healthy balance between teaching the player and providing interesting gameplay. It's gameplay mixes trivia questions with a scavenger hunt-like adventure, and the occasional battle sequence is added in to spice things up. If you really wanted to shoehorn this game into a single category, I'd put it with point and click adventures, as you're directing a character through areas, locating useful items, and navigating dialogue trees in an attempt to complete their goals. I'd even go so far as to say that this adventure holds up fairly well with modern point and click adventure games. Sadly, this genre as a whole is much less popular than it used to be, as much more flashy and action-heavy games have taken center stage over the years.

But enough about that; let's talk about the adventure that lies before us. The story is fairly direct: in the far distant future, a town has been covered in a Dome of Darkness by the Enemy, and it's up to the heroic Bible Corps to rescue the people trapped inside. This dome not only covers the land in darkness, it also acts as a sort of mind control device, causing the people within its sphere of influence to be easily convinced by whatever they are told. This is bad enough, but the Enemy has also sent an army of robot Cyber Deceivers into the town to spread lies and misinformation among the people. Without the Truth to guide them, these people will fall victim to the lies and become trapped in false, confused realities -- some even undergo bizarre transformations into something less than human!

While the Bible Corps is strong, they still have their limits. Unable to dispel the Dome of Darkness completely, they managed to punch a hole in its outer shell that is just large enough to allow a single operative and some supplies through. Known for his strong Faith, Captain Bible is selected for this task, and sent on his way. Unfortunately, the Dome and some of the Cybers lurking within are able to erase the memory of his electronic Bible, requiring him to search around to find the verses he'll need to combat the lies that are being spread.

Once seven victims have been freed of the Enemy's mind control, they can team up with Captain Bible to pilot a giant construction robot known as the Unibot. Together, armed with the robot's physical might and the holy scriptures' powerful Truth, they can tear down the Tower of Deception that generates the Dome of Darkness and save the day.

This is a pretty good set up for a game, even if it wasn't trying to be educational. The gameplay itself holds up very well too, though I did notice a problem. Old games didn't have the graphical advantages we have today, and this causes some lag when the game is trying to handle the more complicated Cyber designs. If this game was rereleased using nearly any modern GUI library, this problem would simply correct itself.

There is a problem from a practical standpoint, however. This game does a great job of showing how the Bible can answer so many questions and even provides rebuttals for a great many of the uncharitable claims I've encountered in person and on social media over the years, but it does so by using scripture and scripture alone. Quoting the Bible automatically convinces everybody in this game, but in real life, if the person you're talking with doesn't accept the Bible as Truth, then nothing you quote from it will sway their opinion.

That said, this was a great ride from start to finish, and there were a number of things I wasn't expecting. I'm even willing to say that I learned some unexpected things about the Bible playing through this one. Now, since this is a really old game, you'll need to either run it on an ancient system or use a tool like DOSbox, but if you're able to find a copy and get it running, I'd really suggest giving Captain Bible in the Dome of Darkness a go.

Points of Interest

Combating the false with the Truth
Despite the age of this game, nearly every lie you need to challenge still appears in conversations about Christianity. It doesn't matter if these conversations are in person or online, the same old remarks continue to circulate. While one of the main goals of this game is to arm you with answers to these remarks, I'd suggest being cautious about using them yourself; some battles aren't worth fighting, and there's little point in reciting verses when the other person isn't willing to listen.

Also, it's important to know that many of these falsehoods are also spread by well-meaning but misinformed Christians. Interestingly enough, this is reflected by how Captain Bible only focuses on what is and what is not true according to the Bible. There's no separation into "evil unbelievers" and "good Christians"; only the merits of the statements are looked at.
You're made to think
The typical means of acquiring verses for the electronic Bible is the scripture download stations, but you'll also obtain them by talking to the freed victims via communication rooms. In these segments, you'll need to guide Captain Bible as he answers questions the rescued person has about a passage from scripture. It's a simple way to force the player to think about and understand the verses being discussed. If you do make a mistake, the victim gets upset, turns green (?), and ends the call. You'll need to try again in order to acquire the verses being discussed.

Freeing a victim also involves a conversation, but this time you'll need to find the verses that back up Captain Bible's points. Make a mistake, and you'll usually need to either start over. These conversations are fairly long, so after awhile you'll reach a checkpoint and only need to reset from there.
Multiple translations of the Bible
There are four translations of the Bible available for you to use while playing. These include the King James Version, the New International Version, the Living Bible, and the Revised Standard Edition. The Living Bible is undoubtedly the easiest choice, as the relevant verses almost always contain some of the key words from your prompt.
Small side note
When I was searching for the full version of Captain Bible, I ran across a complaint somebody had made about it. One of the Cybers talks to you about the nature of the rainbow, saying that it's just "light refracting through water". Since this is one of the Cybers talking, it must be a lie and you're to treat it as such. However, since rainbows really are created by light refracting through water, it's anti-science for this to be considered a lie.

Denial of scientific fact is a serious problem with some pockets of modern Christianity, and it'd be a shame if a wonderful game like this was tainted by those ideas. But, when I found this Cyber in the game, I noticed that it was the critic, not the game, that was in the wrong.

The Cyber actually says: "The rainbow is just light refracting through water, not a creation of God with a divine purpose.". The critic, for whatever reason, did not finish the quote before passing judgement. It's this missing portion that reveals the lie for what it is -- according to the Bible, God did indeed give the rainbow a divine meaning, so while the robot was correct about the origins of the rainbow, it was lying about its purpose.

Normally I don't comment on what other people have to say about a game, but this remark really stuck out to me since it's the same sort of half-truth that the game is trying to teach us to guard against.

Concerns and Issues

Mild violence
Most of the violence takes place in the fight scenes between Captain Bible and a Cyber Deceiver. These tend to be limited to "energy blasts" coming from the robots and the explosions that result from Captain Bible sticking the Sword of the Spirit in the robot's weak points.

It's also possible to completely disable the combat scenes during install, but I personally wouldn't recommend doing that. Even the game's developers admit that turning them off makes the game less fun.
Drugs and other serious topics
Although this game pulls no punches when it comes to sinful lifestyles, it's careful to discuss things like drugs, sex, and intolerance with a matter of fact attitude. If we're being honest, a school's health class probably goes into more detail about these topics than anything seen here.

Also, two of the victims are worth talking mentioning. One is hooked on drugs, and other was trapped by the occult. The "drugs" the former is taking are pumped into him by a spider-like cyber robot, and are a weird green liquid of some sort. This makes its point without showing real drugs. Oddly, the addict is depicted surprisingly realistically, with a creepy smile and bags under his sunken eyes.

The other victim, the one who was trapped by the occult, is trapped in a big crystal and desperately wants out of his prison. While crystals are often said to contain "powers" by various practices, it's nowhere near as realistic and dark as video games tend to get on the subject. In fact, I didn't know what was going on until Captain Bible said something!
Two issues during the finale
In order to destroy the Tower of Deception, Captain Bible and his seven friends need to direct the Unibot to destroy the tower's power stations. There are seven of them, and as you approach each one, one of the victims is attacked by the Enemy's deceptions. You'll need to help them muster their courage using verses from the Bible, and unlike any other part of the game, picking the wrong verse here is an instant game over.

While most of the victims suffer from delusions related to the traps you freed them from, one of the victims hears voices telling him to kill himself. If you select the wrong verse, his screen goes dark, and the game ends. This sort of implies the worst possible outcome.

The second thing that I find noteworthy about the finale isn't actually a problem as much as it is important. At the very end, when every power station has been destroyed and the group is about to destroy the Tower of Deception...

...it finally snares Captain Bible himself.

The hero was not so perfect after all. It takes his seven friends to snap him out of it and motivate him to save the day. This is a good reminder that even the best of us can be tricked by the Enemy, even when we're winning our spiritual battles.

Some tips on finding this game

Unfortunately, Captain Bible in the Dome of Darkness is no longer available as a retail product. This makes finding it a little difficult. If this game sounds interesting, I hope you can find the full version somewhere for a reasonable price!

There are two versions of this game. The first is the full version, which I played through in order to create this review. This version is not available for free, and a bit hard to find. Amazon.com doesn't appear to list it if you search for Captain Bible, but if you search for the entire title, Captain Bible in the Dome of Darkness, the CD-ROM sometimes pops up. You might also want to check ebay and other second hand retailers.

The other version of this game is known as the Special Edition. It's free, but you are limited to only three of the seven areas, effectively making it a demo rather than a complete game. DOSGames.com has a copy of this version available, and you can even play it in your browser* with their online DOS* emulator*.