Are you looking for ways to waste time on the Internet that will also nourish your spirit? Are you wondering how to pass on the eternal narratives of our people to your shiftless, iPad-obsessed children?
A veritable online jungle of Old Testament-based online games exists, and I have evaluated them based on three metrics: fidelity, playability, and entertainment value. Anoint yourselves in fragrant oils and prepare for these reviews.
Moses Drag Racer has a simple but baffling premise: As Moses, you are caught in the grips of a drag race against Pharaoh. Only by answering multiple-choice questions about the life of Moses can you make sure our bearded forefather wins. Subsequent levels show an identical race conducted in identical vehicles, suggesting that Pharaoh and Moses are trapped in some sort of featureless racecourse, possibly for eternity.
Fidelity (7/10): Although the game gets a substantial minus for its unlikely premise, the trivia questions are drawn straight from the life of Moses. Questions range from the simple (“What was the name of Moses’s wife?”) to the downright challenging (“After which plague did Pharaoh finally admit he had sinned?”).
Playability (5/10): The biggest problem is the repetitiveness of the questions. In my quest to show Moses’s drag racing supremacy, I was repeatedly asked the name of Moses’s wife and what tribe his parents come from. Moses’s story spans three books of the Bible; surely, repetition could have been avoided.
Entertainment (3/10): The drag racing premise gets old really fast. Also, the stakes are not high enough. It would be way more entertaining if the loser was thrown into a pit of snakes at the end of each race.
“In the beginning, there was a contest of strength amongst the most prominent figures in scripture to determine the mightiest,” declares the opening of Bible Fight. This Facebook game sets up a Mortal Kombat-like conflict between characters from Testaments Old and New: Eve, Noah, Moses, Mary, Satan and Jesus. Its surprisingly sophisticated battle algorithm provides special moves. for each of its heroes, from Noah’s “Dove of Brutality” (which pecks at the eyes of Noah’s foes) to Moses’s “Stone Tablets of Fury.” In the game’s own words, “Let there be Bible fight!”
Fidelity (6/10): Although most of these characters aren’t known for their combat prowess, the game’s special moves are a tongue-in-cheek nod to Scripture. Eve uses the Serpent of Eden as a whip in combat, for example, suggesting some awesome scenes of primordial domestic conflict God totally left out.
Playability (4/10): I found this game totally playable for the most part, except for a few glaring issues. Hewing close to the Mortal Kombat model, special moves require deft fingerwork. Also, after I got KO’d, I had to wait 45 seconds for Round 2 to properly load. God could have created another universe in a lag time that long. Or at least separated the earth from the firmament.
Entertainment (9/10): This game is incredibly entertaining. It also tapped into the darkly fantasizing part of my Jewish id that has always wanted to see Moses kick Jesus’s butt.
This lunar game comes straight from Chabad.org, which has 16 different Flash games to entertain and educate your kids. Mitzvah Moonwalk is one of the only games not directly tied to a holiday and also one of the strangest. The player runs around gathering space challah, kiddush cups and tzedakah boxes that some careless space traveler has scattered around the moon. Each object you collect counts as a mitzvah.
Fidelity (1/10): Space challah falls outside the purview of the Bible. Also, since when does collecting stuff count as a mitzvah? Still, this is the only game that actually features Hebrew letters (on the tzedakah boxes), so that’s got to count for something.
Playability (7/10): The controls are definitely easy to understand (just use the arrow keys). However, it can be surprisingly difficult to home in on the ritual objects floating just above the moon’s surface, and I often missed them by just a fraction of an inch. There is also a webcam mode, where your body movements control the game, but this was unavailable (although totally intriguing).
Entertainment (7/10): This game is strangely mesmerizing and will quickly lull you into a kind of trance state. I can only report that I played this for an unreasonable amount of time, and came out with a deep, insatiable craving for space challah.
Billed as “the journey of Adam to find Eve in Paradise,” this baffling game places Adam in a world full of dinosaurs, cavemen, and mysterious, clickable obstacles.
Fidelity (2/1): I’m reasonably sure Adam started out in the Garden of Eden, so there are some serious problems with the premise. Also, neither cavemen nor dinosaurs feature in the Biblical narrative of Genesis. Contemplating this fills me with wrath and a desire for smiting.
Playability (3/10): The clickable format is kind of addictive and the obstacles are creative, if a little too easy to overcome (basically, just click stuff, randomly, and you will overcome the obstacles). There would be absolutely no point in playing this game more than once.
Entertainment (3/10): Points have to be given for the ending (I don’t want to give this away, but for a dwarfish, pixelated sketch, Eve is surprisingly seductive). Also, there’s just something enjoyable about persuading a massive prehistoric turtle to fall into a death trap so you can cross a bridge, or making a dinosaur fall in love with Adam. Overall, though, the point-and-click format is dismayingly easy to overcome.
This unduly complicated Facebook game follows a young Moses in the palace of Pharaoh. As Moses, you must complete an inscrutable series of quests. Presumably, the game’s journey extends throughout the story of Moses, but my avatar is still
gathering reeds at a construction site.
Fidelity (6/10): Although the game tries hard to faithfully recreate the world of Biblical Egypt, it’s hard to take this effort seriously when the game sends Moses on a series of increasingly preposterous errands (“Gather reeds to make a fig-harvesting basket!” it exhorts, like a slightly deranged organic-food hobbyist.) Plus, it very unbiblically keeps demanding money in exchange for continued gameplay, requiring me to buy digital fruit for Moses’s avatar to eat. I’m pretty sure they didn’t even have Red Delicious apples in ancient Egypt.
Playability (3/10): Besides the requests for money, the gameplay is pretty bizarre. Each location consists of 16-24 tiles, which Moses is supposed to search methodically to assemble required objects like “Scribe tools” or “Building supplies.” In practice, this involves our august forefather bending into an awkward crouch and scrabbling in the dust for several minutes, over and over again. It’s excruciatingly boring. Also, dialogue bubbles are often obscured or illegible.
Entertainment (2/10): All Facebook saga games have some addictive qualities, but this one strains even my patience. The story of Moses proceeds at a rather breakneck pace; the Facebook Journey of Moses takes at least an hour to get between rooms in the palace, thanks to its extremely tiresome floor-searching ways.