Developer: Kingdom Games
Publisher: Kingdom Games
Rating: T for Teen
FIVE: Champions Of Canaan is a follow up to Kingdom Games’ first biblical based Action-RPG, FIVE: Guardians Of David. Arriving a little less than a year after its predecessor, Champions Of Canaan makes it clear that Kingdom Games is keen on making the FIVE series a serious contender in the Action-RPG genre. Borrowing elements from some of the best ARPGs on the market, Champions of Canaan innovates the genre with a setting that is almost entirely comprised of the various combat arenas scattered throughout the land of Canaan as the story is told through the player’s warrior competing in these tests of skill, courage, and determination.
FIVE: Champions of Canaan has little to no blood but does contain a large amount of violence as it is primarily set in and around the various combat arenas in Canaan. There is obviously some religious content though it is presented in the form of comic strips that summarize key stories and battles during David’s reign as king of the Israelites. I did not encounter any foul language or drug use during my time with the game.
Following in the footsteps of their mighty warrior lineage from Guardians Of David, the heroes in Champions of Canaan are created by the player and can be upgraded in appearance and skill sets throughout the course of the game. Where Champions Of Canaan differentiates itself from Guardians of David is in the character creation that is available from the outset. The first time I loaded up the game I was asked to select a lineage from one of the five warriors from Guardians of David. From there I was able to create either a male or female warrior from a pre-set group of faces, voices, and other customization options. After making these initial selections players are asked to choose their starting weapon from swords, axes, or clubs, to slings and bows, there is a wide range of options available and these options can later be switched up on the fly to allow for flexibility in combat.
While combat is typically important in ARPGs, here, it is undoubtedly the main focus. The basis of the story is that players are filling the role of a warrior in the army of King David who is out to prove his/herself in the combat arenas of Canaan. The villain of the story is Zithri who hosts the arena competitions and is hell-bent on seeing the defeat, and ultimately the death, of the Israelite warriors. Another difference between Champions of Canaan and its predecessor is that here, story missions are doled out in intervals based on how many rounds in the arena are completed. At the start, you simply complete rounds one through 9 to unlock the first story mission and more missions become available as your warrior further improves their standings and prowess in the arenas of Canaan. While this is a rather unique way of continuing the story, it got rather repetitive fighting numerous battles in the nearly identical rounds of the arena in order to unlock a story mission every few rounds.
After each fight, a chest appears in the center of the battlefield which contains, gold, loot, and other resources that can be sold to merchants in the City of David, which acts as a central hub when players are not fighting in the arena. With combat as the focus, leveling up and unlocking new abilities works a little bit differently in Champions of Canaan than it does in other Action-RPGs. Here, experience is earned after each successful round in the arena. Rounds consist of taking on waves of increasingly difficult and more numerous enemies until finally facing off against that round’s boss character. New abilities are unlocked based on the category of equipment you are currently using. For example, when using the sling, which is effective both at close and mid-range, players can summon a swarm of bees to stun a group of enemies and allow for massive amounts of damage, or call down a hail of stones to fall upon a large swath of enemy soldier thus damaging them and slowing their advance. This encourages players to experiment with different types of weapons and equipment to see which play style works best against certain arena types and bosses. As players advance through each round in an arena, the environment changes to offer more or less cover, or add additional hazards and hindrances during combat.
Between rounds, players can return to the market in the City of David to sell unwanted loot or donate to various guilds and networks of spies for additional rewards. There is also a storyteller who offers further insight into the biblical stories on which the game is based. These segments work much the same way that the caches in Guardians of David did in that they allow players who want to know more about the biblical stories the game is based on to gain further insight into the world and characters they are interacting with.
Graphically, Champions of Canaan is a few years behind and looks no better or worse than Heroes of Ruin, the ARPG that was exclusive to the Nintendo 3DS early on in the handheld’s lifespan. While this is not a huge flaw, it is a bit distracting in the scenes where we see a close up of the character models as even some much older indie titles look far better graphically. I also encountered a few technical glitches with the intro cut-scene lagging and the sound skipping all over the place. Also, Champions of Canaan seems to slow to a halt in scenes where you are speaking directly with other NPCs in town; navigating through the text pop ups when characters speak became an exercise in frustration due to the overall jankiness of these scenes.
However, the more important scenes from the storyteller are told in a comic strip style which works much the same way as any comics app on PC or mobile devices. These comic strips are well illustrated and reminded me of some of the more creative Bibles I have seen in recent years.
Overall, I recommend Champions of Canaan to fans of Guardians of David as it is a direct continuation to that game and also stays biblically based throughout. The additional retelling of classic Bible stories via comic panel-type scenes offers a more modern take on these traditional tales which is good for introducing non-believers to these stories if they choose to seek them out within the game. A few technical issues and sluggishness during in-game scenes, along with intermittent audio issues mar an otherwise solid Bible based Action-RPG.
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The Bottom Line
Champions of Canaan has alot of new ideas to offer to the Action-RPG genre and is another title to add to a slowly growing list of "good" Christian games. While I had some issues with how the story is told throughout the game and encountered many technical issues during my play sessions I strongly recommend the game to fans of Guardians Of David. Kingdom Games is certainly on to something with this franchise and I cannot wait to see what they do next.