Ever have one of those games that’s just so out there, all you can do is immediately put your face in your hands and laugh? I’m willing to bet even those games didn’t prepare you for what is essentially Double Dragon… with Jesus.
My initial reactions to Fist of Jesus was honestly to both laugh and coo at how ridiculously adorable it is. I mean, just look at tiny Judas. Tiny Judas is the best Judas! Manic giggling aside, this game manages to make the image of tiny Jesus ripping out a zombie cowboy’s heart just about the cutest thing you’ll ever see.
The art style is colourful and borderline anime. Jesus, Judas, and even the supposedly grotesque, zombified enemies are all actually quite nice to look at. This disarming contrast of art style with gore is nothing new. It’s something anyone who has sailed the seas of the internet long enough will have seen, but I do admire how the juxtaposition is utilized here, and I think the developers and animators had a good bit of fun with it in the process. The transition from the title’s opening live-action short is also guaranteed to get a laugh from those not easily offended.
Control wise, Fist of Jesus handles just like Double Dragon. It’s smooth, responsive and able to flow into some pretty nice combos when Jesus and Judas get surrounded by enemies. Players can switch between the two, and the combat styles do see a bit of variation between our two protagonists. The difference isn’t major, but it is a small, loving touch that doesn’t go unnoticed.
Even as the game gets progressively more difficult, I never found myself totally outmatched with a bit of strategy. However, it does get seriously difficult with progression. Even with my best attempts, some stages felt borderline impossible. This keeps the title from being too dull, but the actual challenge-spacing could have been a touch more forgiving.
The animations for the characters themselves look great, and they add an entire new level of humor to a game that’s already exploding it (like Jesus does to a zombie heart). It takes a lot of talent to make players want to do little else than to pinch their character’s tiny, adorable little cheeks after pulling off one of the fairly brutal kill moves in the game.
The power-ups and combos are a player’s best friend in Fist of Jesus. You’ll get options to help you throughout the game with hilarious attacks. Jesus isn’t about to take any nonsense from Lazarus and the available options state as much.
Another thing worth noting is that the dialogue in this game, while a bit broken at times, is a great throwback to the early 90’s style of action games. It’s corny, over the top and even full of posing from time to time. I can honestly say that I never expected that Dragonball Z and Jesus Christ would even be applicable in the same sentence and yet, there it is. The fact that Jesus can shoot a power beam of sorts just cements it for me that Jesus and Judas’ power levels are secretly… pretty strong.
The major downside to Fist of Jesus, hilarious as it is, is that the combat does get pretty repetitive and stale given enough time. It feels like an arcade game but without the adrenaline of actually being in an arcade, so the novelty is tapped a lot more quickly. Drawing back to the increasing difficulty, it even feels like an arcade game in that it doesn’t want you to win without some major rage fits. For what it is, however, it’s a lot of fun while it lasts.
No one ever said Jesus was perfect, right? Wait…
Fist of Jesus has its flaws but there’s certainly a lot to love here. The art is great, the character animations are well crafted and the controls are nice and tight. One could make the argument that Double Dragon suffered from the same repetitive combat syndrome but it’d be nice to see something new if there is a Fist of Jesus 2: Reckoning / Electric Boogaloo / Revengeance, etc. Personally, I’m not a picky woman. I could play for hours just to watch tiny Judas be the most adorable traitor in all of history.
If you’re looking for some outlandish humor and a loving homage to 90’s action or Double Dragon, I recommend giving it a look. Even with its flaws, it’s got a lot to offer and is probably one of the best religion-themed gaming experiences to be had.