Hands-on: Clive Barker's Jericho

Wow, color me pleasantly surprised. Codemasters released a demo for Clive Barker’s Jericho this week and I was blown away. Jericho is an upcoming FPS interlaced with horror elements and combines team-based combat with various paranormal powers. While I’ve known about the game for a little while, I was shaky about its gameplay — especially since the game has to balance and offer fun gameplay for 6 different squad members. This game is only the second title for the game’s developer, Mercury Steam, and their debut title (American McGee Presents Scrapland) was a bit mediocre.

But after getting some hands-on time with the demo, most of my fears vanished. I’m happy to say that your squad’s AI is not stupid (Daikatana, anyone?), the game has excellent atmosphere and visuals and the controls are very tight and solid. While the game will have 6 squad members for you to control, the demo came with 3: Sgt. Frank Delgado, Lt. Abigail Black and Sgt. Billie Church. They’ll react to enemies, seek cover, yell out commands and positions and will comment on whether or not you’re a moron.


One of the main draws to the game is the Jericho squad, which is comprised of 6 (well, 7 if you include yourself) supernatural characters laced with paranormal powers. Each member has two specialized paranormal powers to wield along with some pretty cool weapons. Take Church, for example. She’s a Christian circus-girl turned badass ninja. Her specialized powers are blood magic, one of which is a fire emblem that causes fire damage to any enemy that approaches. In a haunting fashion, she carves the symbol into her hand and then sit back to watch the fireworks. As for her conventional weapons, she has a really awesome katana along with an automatic pistol.

Storywise, the game’s plot is penned by notable horror author Clive Barker. I, of course, have fond memories of his first produced game, Clive Barker’s Undying and went into Jericho with full intentions of being creeped out, and good lord was I creeped out. As for the story, it’s somewhat complex; before Adam and Eve, God created the Firstborn, who was God’s first attempt in recreating himself. Of course, it doesn’t turn out well and God banishes the Firstborn into the desert. Many years pass and a city called Al Khalid is built on top of the Firstborn’s grounds. Naturally, creepy and deadly things occur and the Jericho squad is called in to clean house.

You control the seemingly 7th member of Jericho squad, named Capt. Devin Ross. In an interesting twist, you’re killed very early in the game, but thanks to your telepathic skills your essence exists within the rest of Jericho squad. In other words, your "being" can be transferred to any of the other Jericho members, which allows you to control whatever member you wish. One thing I liked is how Jericho squad reacts to your seemingly invasion of their bodies.


Thankfully, switching between your squad is painless and the controls are implemented well. Left and right mouse click switches between your two weapons, Q and E switches between your paranormal powers and space bar lets you jump into someone’s body. Unfortunately, the game doesn’t allow you to jump which is a bit weird, especially nowadays.

In addition, the game has some situational moments where you have to tap directional keys in order to survive. The first time I encountered the demo’s situational moment, I was blown away by its presentation; Church is trying to shimmy down a narrow well when an enemy attacks. While this scene was excellent, you’re forced to comply with the keys or else you die; there’s no alternative. Alright, that’s fine, but this particular situational moment was pretty unforgiving, so that meant I died several times trying to pass it. I don’t really enjoy these moments because while I’m frantically spending time trying to pass it, I miss whatever cool is happening on screen.


Visually, the game looks great. I mean, holy heck, I was stunned at how amazing it looked. The game uses Mercury Steam’s Mercury engine and it definitely rivals the Unreal Engine 3. There are plenty of awesome visual flairs, such as motion blur, water blotting the camera, HDR lighting and plenty of bump mapping to make you love your eyes. Performance-wise, the game ran exceedingly well on a mid-range PC I was testing it on. With everything on high and using my normal viewing resolution, the framerate was perfectly stable.

After playing the demo, my excitement for Clive Barker’s Jericho skyrocketed. It was only single-player, so I am still curious as to how well multiplayer will work; I’m also wondering about the number of play hours, but the game will allow you to traverse through Al Khalid during 5 distinct time periods. If you’re a fan of FPS games or Barker’s work, give Jericho a try.


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Author: GamerNode Staff View all posts by

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