by Dan Lenois
reviewed on PC
A horror game for those with a love of the craft
Forgive Me Father, developed by Byte Barrel and published by 1C Entertainment, splashed its way to the surface on April 7th, 2022, when it exited the Steam Early Access program and launched as a full and complete game. The official Steam product page description describes Forgive Me Father as a: “[...]dark retro horror FPS set in a comic book style world inspired by the novels of H.P. Lovecraft.” In hindsight, it would be difficult to conceive a more accurate elevator pitch for the game. From the moment you start playing, the Mike Mignola-esque comic book art style leaps out at you in Forgive Me Father. However, this art style does at times work against itself, particularly when it comes to the pale colour palette often on display. Due to the strong presence of the black and white shades, it can sometimes be hard to distinguish enemies from the environment, or even just to see past the reflective glare of the game’s lighting system.
Learning to embrace the madness
While Forgive Me Father is first and foremost a first-person-shooter, there are nevertheless certain integrated elements from other genres as well, most notably RPG components such as character levelling and skill tree progression systems. If you want to not only stay alive in Forgive Me Father, but also immerse yourself into the depths of the game’s content, then you’re going to have to learn how to manage risk. Going out of your way to eliminate enemies not strictly on the main path to the end of the level will definitely hamper any attempt of a speedrun. Additional sustained combat may result in you taking more damage, but it is still the surest way of grinding yourself some XP, which you’ll need if your goal is to max out certain skill tree upgrades. The game does not punish you for playing in any particular way. As long as the main objectives, namely that of fighting the necessary enemies and unlocking the necessary locked doors in your way, are met, then you’re generally free to go.
Reading from the ancient texts leaves something to be desired
Some games rely on storytelling to do the heavy lifting, rather than the gameplay, and some games are starkly the opposite. But if you’re going to include one, it better not waste your time. And sadly that’s exactly what Forgive Me Father does. Whoever wrote the dialogue and story material for Forgive Me Father should be begging for forgiveness for so thoroughly wasting the player’s time. If you want to limit your exposure to these detracting elements, do yourself a favour and skip every cutscene and interactable item with a pop-up description. There’s nothing more ridiculous than walking up to an object, like a book, and having it give you a description along the lines of: “This is a book. It once had an owner. He is probably dead by now.” Unfortunately, while there are a handful of scattered pieces of mildly-interesting lore, most of the lore you’ll run into is some variation of the aforementioned example.
Fire away, gentlemen
Forgive Me Father is, of course, a first-person shooter, so it’d be rather bad form to not talk about the elephant in the room, wouldn’t it? The weapons themselves are largely fun to use. The weapon models are gorgeous, and the firing and reloading animation quality looks great, which has always been an unsung important quality of life aspect behind many of the greatest shooter games of both past and present, and Forgive Me Father does not disappoint there. However, it’s the functionality of said combat where things become a bit more murky. Hit registration was a fairly regular issue. Enemies would often have pinpoint accuracy against the player, however there were at least a dozen instances during the playthrough for this review where shots directed at enemies would pass through them while dealing no damage, most commonly when the shot’s trajectory would cause it to strike the enemy in their arm or leg. While there were also some issues with hitboxes surrounding the head, this was less common.
Sounds in the night
The music on display in Forgive Me Father felt oddly out-of-place, given the theme and tone of the game itself, as well as the individual levels in question. A person looking only at screenshots or trailer footage of the game might come to the understandable conclusion that the soundtrack would be ominous and unsettling, intent on putting the player on edge and making them more vulnerable to jumpscares or enemy ambushes. Instead, the player is met with a generic Doom 2016-inspired soundtrack of hard rock and metal tracks, which feels remarkably out-of-place in the world of Forgive Me Father. However, the problems really begin to arise with the sound design, which is wildly inconsistent, particularly when it comes to weapon firing sound effects. My eardrums compel me to find whoever organized this sound design, and dangle them off like Batman would, until they admit their wrongdoing and attempt to fix their misdeeds in this area. Some weapons, like the throwing knife and the handgun, are perfectly fine. Whereas others, such as the shotgun, sound like a cannon going off next to your ear. The same inconsistencies can be observed with enemy screeches and attack sounds too. The thought that this game went through the entirety of Steam Early Access without ever once levelling out their audio, something most YouTube content creators learn before they get their first thousand subscribers, beggars belief.
Forgive Me Father is a perfectly competent first-person shooter that successfully manages to integrate a lot of elaborate elements, such as a fairly unique art style, as well as creating an engaging progression system, and has more than enough content to keep even a speedy player engaged for a decent length of time. However, where it falls short is in its implementation of the most basic details, such as sound design, hit registration, and level design. For someone who’s not looking for anything exceptional, but just a solid, relatively fast-paced shooter to pass a couple of hours playing, Forgive Me Father will be right up your alley. But if you’re aiming your sights higher, then maybe you’re better off letting this particular title sink back to the crushing depths of your nearest ocean.
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Visually gorgeous, great use of character levelling and skill trees
Audio can be hit or miss, as can targeting with hitboxes being somewhat irregular