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Forgive Me Father Review

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  • Posted on 09th Apr, 2022 00:10 AM

Forgive Me Father adeptly combines the FPS and Horror genres to create an engaging, gorgeous experience that’s only dampened by its technical issues.

p>Developer Byte Barrel had lofty ambitions when it came to its latest retro-styled FPS, Forgive Me Father, hoping to find a winning formula between the cosmic horror stylings of H.P. Lovecraft and the chaotic FPS genre that demands exciting moment-to-moment thrills. With comic book-inspired visuals, a guitar-centric soundtrack that punctuates every demonic sound and gunshot, and gunplay that’s responsive and utterly satisfying, Forgive Me Father is indeed a title that’s sure to please not just long-time FPS lovers, but also players who can’t resist such a wonderful marriage of ideas.

The game opens on a narrated sequence that looks as though it popped right out of a graphic novel. The premise is simple: a cousin sends a foreboding message beckoning for help as his hometown has been plagued by mysterious, dark circumstances—indecipherable voices ringing in people’s ears, dark, ghoulish figures roaming the streets at night—and he can only trust one person and one person alone. Forgive Me Father wastes absolutely no time from then on, presenting players with a pistol, some surrounding lore, and a banging on the office door straight ahead.

The moment that door swings open, a ghoul—one of the many enemy types players will put an end to—rushes in, and players will be introduced to the game’s phenomenal sound design. Whether it is footsteps, gunshots, weather effects, or the groans and howls of the damned, everything in Forgive Me Father sounds dreadful in the best possible way. Players will walk through brightly-lit office hallways, creepy forests, graveyards and crypts, and many other varied locations. There’s not a single dull level of the 25 in the game, and as impressive as the environments are, the enemy designs are even better.

Anyone familiar with anything Cthulhu or Lovecraft will come to appreciate the many different enemy types and variations. Ghouls, wretches, fish people, abominations—everything a cosmic horror fanatic could want is on full, proud display. On top of that, enemies even have certain weaknesses players can exploit to their advantage. One common enemy type, the wretch, has some variants where if they get their heads blown off and happen to be carrying an extra head with them, they’ll simply replace the head and keep shambling onward as if nothing had happened. Shooting that wretch anywhere else, however, takes them out completely without the extra fuss. There’s an element of strategy present where players can experiment with different weapons to see how certain enemies react to them so hey can clear out an area as quickly as possible, or else they run the risk of being overwhelmed.

The skill tree available also requires some thought since anything can be upgraded, from characters’ unique abilities, to weapons, to increasing ammo count. The knife, for example, has two branching upgrades: one to make it stronger, and one to unlock the ability to throw knives at enemies. Choosing one option removes the other permanently, giving players the space to modify their playstyles without making the game too easy—and Forgive Me Father is anything but a walk in the park.

Even “Very Easy,” the game’s most “forgiving” difficulty level, is challenging; enemies may not hit as hard, but if players don’t develop a strong sense of spatial awareness, they’ll find themselves dead in a flash. Especially during the game’s gauntlet areas, where players are mercifully given lots of ammo, health, and armor before all hell breaks loose, Forgive Me Father rarely offers a respite from the nonstop, exhilarating action. What could’ve been a mindless, albeit pretty and fun, experience is instead the best of all worlds.

Secrets also litter the levels, and while some of them are simple “turn an unexpected corner and find a secret” affairs, others are well-hidden and give players an incentive to explore each level, find all the secrets, and take in the gorgeous visuals. There are also elements of the story players can collect, but Forgive Me Father knows some players will just eagerly jump from room to room and not necessarily want to sit through long cutscenes that take them away from the action. For those who enjoy a bit of lore and light world-building, however, the game expands upon its few cutscenes by sprinkling in brief notes and images that go beyond the implications of the game’s story at its surface, giving its Lovecraftian overtones the necessary space to breathe and thrive. Outside of the game’s opening, players will only receive cutscenes after each boss fight, of which there are a total of five.

The boss fights are, to put it simply, breathtaking. Rather than simply circling them to avoid incoming attacks and blasting away, the boss fights add an extra wrinkle through their unique gimmicks and patterns. Some require light platforming to defeat, while others require players to weaken their defenses first before getting at them. It’s during these encounters that the game checks in and makes sure players have been paying attention—that they’re watching their backs and using everything in their arsenal rather than blindly firing and hoping for the best.

Not a single weapon in Forgive Me Father goes to waste. Ammo drops aren’t necessarily rare, but the game makes sure players never pick up the same type of ammo, making it something of a requirement to use multiple weapons rather than sticking with one. Additionally, upgrading weapons to make them pure tools of Eldritch warfare that would make Cthulhu himself wince is immensely gratifying, as is gathering new weapons throughout the course of the game just when players are getting too comfortable with what they have.

Of course, Forgive Me Father isn’t without its faults. Mild screen tearing is one of the game’s more prominent technical issues, occurring for sizable stretches of time before correcting itself. If too much is going on onscreen at one time, the framerate is prone to tanking for a few seconds, especially if players are using their abilities in overcrowded spaces.

There’s also something of a disconnect between the in-game quipping the characters will do and the nature of the overall narrative. When the cutscenes come up, they’re narrated dramatically and seriously, perfectly fitting within the Lovecraftian aesthetic and tone. On the other hand, the characters, especially the Journalist, will deliver ham-fisted lines more befitting of a Nathan Drake, which can be jarring for players who want to immerse themselves into a proper cosmic horror tale.

Overall, however, this is a one-of-a-kind horror FPS delight. All the game’s nuances and features come together to craft an ode to H.P. Lovecraft that the author himself would be proud of. With incredible gunplay, myriad secrets to uncover, a gorgeous aesthetic, and memorable boss encounters, its technical issues don’t quite stop Forgive Me Father from being something a die-hard FPS fanatic looking for a fresh, new experience should miss out on.

Forgive Me Father releases April 7 for PC. Game Rant was provided a PC code for the purposes of this review.

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