Ultra-Indie Spotlight Sunday: Forgive Me Father
Like any good Lovecraftian game, Forgive Me Father takes place in a small New England fishing town. Everyone in this town is a goblin or a ghoul or even a zombie with no conscience. You play as a Priest (at least in this build, there will be a second character soon) who finds himself trapped in this hellish city with nothing to defend himself with but his incredible firepower and jaguar running speed.
One key component of H.P. Lovecraft’s writing was that it was never quite fully explained. This elevated the horror of the eldritch to something far beyond human comprehension. Suffice to say, you can’t really capture something like that in a video game format, or really any visual medium . It’s a bit like how a shadow can be scarier than the thing it is a shadow of. Looking at an image of Cthulhu, you realize just how ridiculous this gigantic Davy Jones-looking goofball is. So if you can’t capture the terror of Lovecraft, why bother? Just use its aesthetic and make the whole thing kind of silly.
Forgive Me Father does a lot of novel things for a Lovecraftian game. For one, madness is not detrimental to the character. In fact, it is an asset. The more townsfolk you gun down, the deeper your madness becomes, and for some unknown but beautiful reason, this means that your bullets hit harder. A good chunk of the normal ghoul enemies carry a severed head in their hands. If you land a headshot they will simply pop their spare on and keep going like nothing happened. This poses very little relevance to how good the Forgive Me Father is but I liked it a lot, because even though it’s Lovecraftian, the game doesn’t take itself that seriously.
Non-Wanky Game Recap:
It’s DOOM but with Lovecraft. Simple as. Run through maps at inhuman speed, gun down everyone, pick up some ammo and health packs, and repeat. But just because you’ve got a wide array of powerful weapons doesn’t mean this is a walk in an eldritch park. Without skill, you can quickly find yourself overwhelmed with enemies. Forgive Me Father is challenging.
Forgive Me Father is a game that just feels good. The weapons are great, the gameplay is tough but fair, the aesthetics are cool. There are also a handful of other neat features and tools added. Your character will level up as the game goes on, and you can choose to upgrade your weapons or stats. Eventually, you start to find non-weapon items like holy water that can be used to mess with enemies. A fun new twist to a classic formula.
The caveat of this style of gameplay in somewhat corridor-based environments means that it gets pretty crowded. Forgive Me Father works great when you’re in the open areas with plenty of room to zig and zag, but in a hallway, there’s a good chance you’ll find yourself surrounded. Especially during the early game, this can be a run-ender. After all, armed with a pistol and crowded into a corner by zombies that are constantly dealing damage, there’s really no way to escape. Match that with checkpoints that are few and far between, and you’ll often have to restart a huge section of a level after you get swarmed.
How To Fix It:
This is hardly an issue worth fixing. But if the devs wanted to go a little easier on us, Forgive Me Father could have an ability where you spend some of that sweet tasty madness meter in order to push back foes around you. Could be an AOE, or maybe just a shockwave. They could also have more places to save the game throughout. As I said, these aren’t really detracting from the main enjoyment of the game.
I love Lovecraft. The endless variation of this ur-cosmic horror genre is tremendous fun to explore in any capacity. Be it a genuine terror in Call of Cthulhu: Dark Corners of the Earth, the there’s-something-weird-here-just-out-of-our-reach hints in season one of True Detective, or the goofy action of Forgive Me Father, any kind of Lovecraftian inspired media is bound to be interesting.
You can buy Forgive Me Father on Steam Early Access by clicking here.