H.P. Lovecraft has been on a little resurgence these past few years as several games look to make use of his work to craft new adventures. Forgive Me Father from Byte Barrel takes a similar route, though also goes another by offering up a retro FPS style shootathon instead. A worthy marriage? Lets take a look.
Playing as either a Journalist or Priest, you are called to a remote town in order to investigate a series of strange events, which culminated with the disappearance of the entire population in the area. The search for clues soon becomes a struggle for survival in the face of cults and monsters in this Lovecraftian inspired adventure.
As expected of a retro shooter, there’s no sweeping narrative, but that doesn’t mean this is a slouch as there’s plenty of lore to keep an eye out for in each stage. The two characters also offer up different paths and perspectives on the events as you play, with some good voiced segments to go along with the comic style presentation of the stories delivery. The difference in the characters abilities also add to re playability, though balancing is iffy at the moment, doubling the story runtime as it were. When all that is done there’s still an endless mode to contend with that offers a simpler way to play as you blast waves of increasingly difficult enemies.
Presentation is probably the highlight of the game for me. It has a comic style that permeates almost every aspect of the game, from the thick black edged character and item sprites to the flat similarly detailed textures and comic panel style way of presenting story segments during a stage. That’s not all the game has to offer either, quite a few areas throughout make use of fog & shadow to create atmosphere, such as the early game garden that has shadows of the flowers dancing along the walls and dark mist filled areas to make for tougher skirmishes.
The audio side of things offers up a fair chunk of voice acting and a fair amount of unique enemy sounds so you can get a handle of what’s in store before seeing them, there’s also fittingly a heavy uptick in the BGM once the action starts to heat up. With resolution set to 4K and pretty much everything set to Ultra, my PC (R51600/16GB/RTX 2080ti) ran the game at a locked 60fps around 95% of the time. Never seemed to drop frames during a fight, even with how flashy it could get, just had this odd quirk where some areas would drop frames. The stairway at the beginning of the second stage for example, stuttering all the way down stairs and then perfectly fine at the bottom and the rest of the stage.
A retro inspired shooter this is, so of course it has pretty tight gunplay and fun weapons to use, alongside some fun boss battles at the end of a stage and some madness fuelled abilities to add extra spice. These abilities are accessed when your character starts to go a little insane, but I honestly didn’t use many as only a couple seemed useful. You’ll notice a similar balancing irk with the characters skill trees, Priest is noticeably better than Journalist as I found later. The skill tree is a nice touch though, its used to not only improve abilities but also upgrade weapons. Dropping enemies scores XP which levels you up for a skill point. Putting this on a weapon will physically upgrade it, the poppy revolver you start with becomes a faster firing WW2 era pistol with just a single skill point, but be wary as these aren’t reversible and not all weapon upgrades are useful in the long run.
Unlike most other ‘boomer shooters’ that generally have you taking on large skirmishes and squeezing the trigger till nothing is left breathing, this game does stuff a little differently. Ammo isn’t quite so abundant, especially late game. which means you have to take more care with your shots, a fair few skirmishes have had me down to dodging projectiles and poking enemies with a bread knife. Enemies also punch harder than most with health scarcer, and some foes have been so meticulously placed that if you don’t check every corner you gonna get blasted in the back often. It makes for something of slower paced experience than expected to me, but I guess that makes it stand out a little more in what’s becoming a crowded genre these days.
Forgive me Father certainly has enough going for it, the tight gunplay and Lovecraft inspired comic book design creates a great visual atmosphere for each stage that will keep you blasting away at those pesky cultists & monsters. You can’t gleefully blast away the games balancing irks though, which can be noticed most with regards to the two characters, but also in areas such as late game as ammo becomes gold dust yet enemies continue to increase in power & number.
The developers have promised a patch is on the way that looks into the balancing, but as of now it hasn’t arrived yet. Still, it’s likely worth the £17.99 asking price for genre fans seeking something a little different, once patched & balanced out you could even add a star to the rating
Gorgeous presentation and tight gunplay currently held back a little by other areas.