The video game industry has never been stronger, as mobile games have made it easier than ever to keep up with our favorite titles, even on the go. It is estimated that there are 2.5 billion gamers in the world, and with such an enormous audience just waiting to be reached, it only seems right that the Catholic missionaries should meet them where they are, with Catholic teachings in tow.
Now, thanks to game developers from Loyola Press, there’s a new game to tickle the fancies of Catholic gamers who might have grown bored of the monotonous tone of hack/slash dungeon-crawlers or the ever-growing catalog of Skyrim clones — Wanderlight: A Pilgrim’s Adventure. Released in mid-August, Wanderlight is a uniquely Catholic experience that flips the script on what a video game ought to be.
Wanderlight: A Pilgrim’s Adventure is a role-playing game (RPG) that places players in the shoes of The Pilgrim, who travels through a variety of maps and zones, all the while meeting saints and learning Catholic prayers. Rather than a sword and shield, the player is protected and guided by the Holy Spirit, in the form of a small white dove who follows The Pilgrim around. Instead of traipsing from battle to battle, players are faced with puzzles meant to make them think, make ethical choices, answer Catholic trivia, or complete tasks relevant to the various saints they meet.
As players make their way through the world, they can visit churches in the many towns they come across. There, they can walk the Stations of The Cross, or stand present for one of many Catholic ceremonies which are explained to the player using Catholic terms and doctrine pulled straight from the Catechism. The game’s dialogue is fully voiced, so even kids who are not reading yet can play.
In an interview with Denver Catholic, Loyola Press President and Publisher Joellyn Cicciarelli called the title the first “unapologetically Catholic video game.” She went on to suggest that video games are an invaluable resource for reaching and educating children and that the game has two versions, one of which was made for use in the classroom. Cicciarelli said:
“There’s a lot of evidence that learning can take place for certain types of learners very effectively through online learning, self guided learning, interactive media … So that’s one reason [for] video game media, it’s where kids are. St. Ignatius said, ‘Go in their door and take them out yours.’ So that’s what we’re hoping to do.”
Cicciarelli revealed that the character of The Pilgrim was based on the life of St. Ignatius of Loyola.
“He called himself the Pilgrim in his autobiography. He went out into the Piazza and catechized people and really worked to make the world a better place and bring people closer to God, “ Cicciarelli said. “So we thought, ‘what better than a pilgrim for the character in the game?’”
The world of Wanderlight exists in retro top-down scroller view, an aesthetic reminiscent of the old 16-bit games from the Super Nintendo era, a medium that has surged in popularity thanks to titles like Stardew Valley. As with Stardew Valley, the goal of the game is focused on relationship building and exploration. To keep track of the many faith lessons, players can access a menu that keeps track of the saints they meet and the prayers they learn for easy reference.
Loyola Press intends Wanderlight to be for Catholics of all ages, and suggests that families can enjoy the game together as both entertainment and as a tool for faith formation. There are seven levels, each intended for subsequent grade levels, so that kids who play will continue to enjoy the game as they grow.
Wanderlight: A Pilgrim’s Adventure is free to download, although it does offer in-app purchases. Download the game on Google Play or the App Store now and start your adventure as The Pilgrim. Take a look at the video below for a view of the game-play.