Last week I made the questionable decision of analyzing the “Doom” franchise for Christian messages. Check it out for a more detailed look at whether “Doom” is a Christian video game. I concluded that while the game does portray a very straightforward fight against evil, it ultimately is much more humanist than Christian. At no point does it point to God or a higher power for a solution. The series followed the same formula for over two decades. Evil demons from Hell are attacking, you the hero need to defeat them all with very big guns. Remarkably simple. However, that formula changed a bit in 2020, with the new game, “Doom Eternal.” I thought the story warranted one more piece and how we see them questioning Christian doctrines in “Doom Eternal.”
As always, and perhaps more than ever, do not take this post as an endorsement. There is extreme violence and disturbing imagery in the game, so proceed with caution. However, that also means this is the kind of media that Christians tend to pass over when reviewing new stories, so stick around, and you might find some interesting talking points.
Also, spoilers ahead as this will delve into some of the game’s later twists and plot points.
3 Interesting Story Points
There’s a little too much story in this game to cover everything. Who thought we’d ever say that about a “Doom” game? Instead, I will focus on three significant story points that connect to some interesting questions about Christian doctrines in “Doom Eternal.”
1. Heavenly Parasites
“Eternal” changed up the story in a few interesting ways. It continues the story from the 2016 “Doom” remake, which portrayed Hell as an alternate dimension harvesting human souls for energy. The game introduces the Maykrs, strange angelic beings from the game’s equivalent of Heaven. We learn that the Maykrs rely on energy from Hell for their immortality. As a result, they struck a deal with the demons that the Maykrs will spread religion throughout the universe, Earth included, as a means of gaining followers and sending souls to Hell for energy. In short, Christianity and other religions are all lies made up by these alien beings so that they can parasitically survive.
“Eternal” is not the first story to portray God as parasitic aliens. Though it makes for an exciting plot, I always wonder how much thought goes into these stories. Is this merely a Sci-Fi what-if, or is this a reflection of how they view religion? Is Christianity just a lie feeding on gullible fools who spread it to other fools? Would we be better off if we could just shut it down and move on? Not the most charitable view of religion, but certainly not rare.
2. God, Is That You?
Despite all this, Eternal leaves the door open for a different interpretation. The Maykrs were created by an ancient being called “The Father.” At some point, “The Father” disappeared. The Maykrs seemingly went mad with power and began manipulating worlds and striking deals with Hell. Whether this was God, an alien, or even a supercomputer is not explained, but I imagine this was left intentionally vague. If this is meant to be God, it would imply a form of Deism, that God created everything, but then left to let it run, and that’s where things went wrong.
We cannot draw major conclusions without more detail, but there may be a statement here about the separation between God and religion. Many are open to Jesus but turn because of the hypocrisy and corruption of alleged Christians. Even Gandhi once said, “I like your Christ, I do not like your Christians. Your Christians are so unlike your Christ.” This is a sentiment that, unfortunately, we as Christians need to face. Are we striving to live as Christ did and falling short, or are we abandoning the endeavor entirely and using the church as a tool for control? There are certainly examples of that throughout our history. How do we stay accountable to prevent it from happening again?
3. Not Just a Man
The last interesting development is that you, the hero, now have a story. Rather than just a nameless space marine, you are a demigod called “The Doom Slayer.” Interestingly, part of what makes you special is power given to you by Heaven. You were supposed to serve them, but now wield their power to destroy them and save the world.
This looking above for hope is closer to what I said was missing from previous games. “Eternal” paints the world as entirely at evil’s mercy, and only by looking to a divine savior will it be protected. Humanity could not save itself. The game even plays with this messianic trope a bit, such as when you hear a scientist go from rationalist denial to singing your praises and calling on you for salvation. However, like with any sermon comparing Super Man to Jesus, this message gets lost in the action-packed power fantasy. All of this is pointing to you, the player, not the perfect son of God. The “Doom Slayer” is not good. He’s just really angry and powerful.
I never thought I would say this, but “Doom” gives us a lot to think about. It definitely does not present a very Christian perspective, but it gives us some interesting questions to consider. While there are interesting questions raised by “Doom Eternal,” it still remains pretty firmly in the Humanist worldview. Don’t expect to find Christian doctrines in “Doom Eternal,” but you might find more thought than a lot of media has today.
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