FAITH: The Unholy Trinity Sets a Fearful Mood with its First Scare
FAITH: The Unholy Trinity is full of jarring scares and disturbing, unsettling creatures. Rotoscoped, hyper-realistic monster animations in a world of limited visuals just seems to kick my revulsion into high gear. Your journey as a young priest starts off with a grim purpose in the first chapter of the trinity. It might take a miracle to survive more than a few steps into your mission, though. This game hits hard and fast with its very first fearful moment, setting a frightening precedent that will have you quivering throughout the whole trilogy.
A botched exorcism brings you back to the Martin household. Well, it brings you to the side of the road NEAR the house. You might not actually make it to the house if you aren’t careful. In most of the horror titles I’ve played, you can putter around a bit before you deal with an enemy. Maybe you’ll get a tutorial on how to fight or run before anything happens. You’ll have a few minutes of peace before the scares start. Even in short games, I feel like there’s usually some buffer time at the beginning before things get scary.
FAITH: The Unholy Trinity doesn’t do that. The game is divided up into individual screens, and when you walk into the border, you move into the next screen on that side. I had walked up a single screen before something found me in the barren woods. A shivering, writhing creature came tearing through the tree line just as I was nearing the next screen. It was so close that I didn’t have time to react, instead just screaming as I tried to run away. Our young priest isn’t big on rushing, though. When it caught me, my screen filled with a disturbingly-realistic vision of something rushing at me on all fours. Afterwards, I was dead in a pool of my own blood.
I happened to be filming that first playthrough. It took 31 seconds for our monstrous foe, the Chupacabra, to chase me down and kill me. This affected every moment I spent with the game from then on for a variety of reasons. For starters, I now knew that there wouldn’t be any sort of down time in this game. No quiet moments when I would be safe. I was dead before a minute had passed. There wasn’t going to be any interruptions to learn mechanics. No little hint that something was coming to kill me. I’d just find myself in a terrifying situation and have to figure it out or die.
The second thing was how fast it went down. In FAITH: The Unholy Trinity, you don’t walk quickly. Even if some horrible creature is hurtling towards you, you move at a relaxed pace. The young priest is fairly chill about his imminent demise, I guess. The Chupacabra can rush you down, leaving you with very little time to react depending on where you’re at on the screen.
In the above example, the Chupacabra caught me when I was about to cross over into a new screen. This enemy comes at you from somewhere along the border of the screen you’re on. This matters because, as you move closer to the border, you have less time to do something. You only have to hit a button to raise your crucifix in its direction to scare it off, but if you’re almost at the border, you might not even have enough time to tap the button. This almost paralyzed me with fear, as I grew nervous every time I walked anywhere near the sides of the screen. I wanted to stick near the middle of the screen, but you can’t progress if you don’t walk to those edges.
FAITH: The Unholy Trinity also caught me off-guard with the Chupacabra’s jarring cries. These voice-modulated roars and curses sound a bit like a laptop turned demonic, and they’re extremely effective. They’re unlike any monster or human screams I’ve heard in a horror game before, and they froze my mind as I heard them. A part of me tried to make out the distorted sounds to understand the words. However, this otherworldly sound had me so scared I couldn’t concentrate. It’s just a sound so far beyond anything in reality that it hit me hard, leaving my thoughts in shambles.
Finally, when the Chupacabra was on top of me, the game switched to a rotoscoped vision of the grinning beast bearing down on me. This worked in a number of ways. First, the game usually uses a limited visual style. Much of what you see hints at the shapes of devilish beings and decaying houses. It encourages the imagination to set to work in the game, and I made myself quite uncomfortable at the details my mind filled in.
But you see the Chupacabra in striking detail. It was like it was something real – like something barging from the imagined world into reality itself. At least, it’s so much more realistic than the world it exists in that it FEELS real. Even if it’s just for a second. FAITH: The Unholy Trinity uses this jarring transition to show you every gruesome part of the creature as it flickers, red and white, grinning as it catches you and rips you apart. It’s only about a second and a half of animation, but its enough to make it feel like this demonic presence is alive and real and right there with you. At the very least, it makes the consequences feel more realistic than anything you’ve looked at in the game before.
Dying here makes you restart from the beginning of the area, but at this point, I was a quivering mess. I was afraid of walking near the sides of the screen. Nervous about what I would hear screaming at me in the woods. I was afraid of its unnatural voice (a feeling that got worse as I started understanding what it was saying). I didn’t want to look at its eerie four-legged movements and its gruesome smile as it ended my life. And it all happened so fast when I was convinced I was still safe in the early part of the game.
FAITH: The Unholy Trinity hits players with a gut-punch of a scare almost immediately. This scare has layers of details that make it effectively disturbing, and it made me feel like I’d never be safe anywhere in the game world. This created an unease in me that never let go as I played through the trilogy, as I always worried that something new would strike me before I could even hope to react.