Which is how you "win". Like SimCity, there's no way to "win" Afterlife. You can only lose. So winning becomes, in effect, the art of not losing, of maintaining the status quo. There's no scope to forge your own path, or to stage a war between the heavens; indeed, such a thing is one of the losing conditions, complete with one of the most politically and religiously astute cutscenes in video game history.


The whole game is punctuated with pieces of humour like that, which despite the interface's shortcomings, made the whole thing quite a lot of fun, the overall experience winning out over the frustrating gameplay. But when I said it failed in making religion fun, I meant it; while Afterlife can be fun, it's not that religious. At least, it's not based on any real religions.

The souls you're harvesting aren't from people. They're from "Ethically Mature Biological Organisms". You don't collect their souls, you collect their SOULS, an acronym for "Stuff Of Unending Life". And those "EMBOs" weren't Catholics, or Anglicans, or Baptists, or Mormons; instead they're given names like NAAAists, OPRAists and RALFists.


No doubt this decision was made to avoid controversy, and also perhaps to avoid seeing the game pigeon-holed as "religious", a video gaming Stryper, or suffer the same fate as befell recent "religious" game Left Behind.

But I wish it had stuck its neck out and made it, literally, heaven and hell that you were controlling. It may as well have. The game's name, premise and fantastic advisor characters do their best to portray a Christian afterlife, so you know when you get the game, and know when you're playing, that despite the absence of the actual name (you play as a "Demiurge"), you're playing God. Literally. Heck, even the game's seven sins are, you guessed it, based on the church's Seven Deadly Sins, literally being sloth, envy, avarice, gluttony, pride, wrath and lust.


Sure, it may have made the papers, gotten Lucasarts some bad press. Sure, it may even have been banned in some more conservative areas of the Western world. But at least then it would have been remembered, not just as something brave enough to tackle religion head-on, but for doing so and having some fun with it.

After all, I'm sure even the staunchest of biblical literalists can see the funny side in the four surfers of the apocalypse.