A demo only offers a small slice of gameplay. As such, an individual's initial reception towards a game can change once they get their hands on a larger piece of the pie. Case in point: Forgive Me, Father. I got a sneak preview of this upcoming retro FPS late last month, and I was pretty satisfied with what I played. I lauded it for its visual style and upgrade system, which I still believe are exceptional. Other than that, after more time with the level design, weapon handling, and overall presentation, I could see that there's a lot of work to be done to make Forgive Me, Father anything better than adequate.
Forgive Me, Father, for Some Early Access Flaws
My main concern from the demo and also now was the weapon handling. Shooting cultists, bulbous humanoids, and tentacle-clad soldiers was clunky, imprecise, and lacked the same feeling you might find from Forgive Me, Father's boomer shooter counterparts. The starting pistol is still difficult to precisely aim and requires you to stop in place to land an accurate shot. Boomer shooters rely on that speed and constant movement, but thus far the gunplay doesn't facilitate this style of play.
It's my thought that Forgive Me, Father wants to emulate that retro FPS flavor, but it very well could be that the developers intended for a more methodical and slower pace of the game. If that's the case, I think it is much to the detriment of Forgive Me, Father. As an example, drones of enemies can be thrown your way at any time, and music ramps up like something out of Doom 2016. That's when you should be pumped to take on a bunch of enemies and turn them into bits and pieces. Instead, with the pistol, wildly inaccurate Thompson machine gun, and various other weapons, you have to take it slow.
Or do what I do, bust out the shotgun and use its very handy area of effect spread. See, the shotgun feels very nice in Forgive Me, Father. Why? Because you hardly have to aim. Another issue I noticed only later in the Early Access build is quite problematic. If the developers intend to create a more fast-paced experience, this issue needs to go: you can't switch weapons while reloading. One of the best parts about these types of games is that you can switch out weapons on the fly, but that's not really possible here.
Credit where credit is due, the impact of weapons is handled well. Shooting an enemy in the head is powerful; in fact, I especially love shooting the head off of a zombie. The big, bulbous enemies I mentioned also break apart easily as well and it's just satisfying to see. A few enemies, later on, feel more like bullet sponges so this effect is lessened, but overall, it's not half bad. Combined with a level-up system where you can spend points to get upgraded weapons, there's potential for some truly powerful builds.
Level design is another area for massive improvement. Levels feel disjointed, like there's no strong theme connecting them together. You'll go from a mansion, to a garden-like area, to a city. In the second act, you'll go through graveyards, swamps, and mine shafts. It feels relatively uninspired, and I don't even see great Lovecraftian influence for that matter. It's very disappointing for those expecting eldritch horror. There's bits and pieces of lore and the tentacle-faced enemies that convince me it's Lovecraftian, but that's it.
Beyond Early Access into Forgive Me, Father's full release, I'd like to see more levels that play to the Lovecraft theme. I would also be interested to see a stronger presence in the story. Right now, there's no real narrative within Forgive Me, Father. With an actual story, the disjointed feeling between levels might be alleviated.
While I have many gripes right now, I want to once again commend Forgive Me, Father for outstanding visual direction. The illustrated look that combines 2D character sprites with a 3D world works nicely. You feel like you're playing a horror comic book, which is what I believe developer Byte Barrel was going for. There were a few levels where music wasn't playing at all, though, so hopefully, that silence can be replaced with spooky ambiance or something of that nature.
Forgive Me, Father is in a tough spot with its Early Access release. On one hand, it is Early Access, so there's plenty of time for improvement. On the other hand, most of my issues with this build are pretty major and would require significant changes for me to change my mind. Can I absolve Forgive Me, Father of its sins? I suppose only time will tell.
TechRaptor previewed the Forgive Me, Father on Steam with a copy provided by the publisher.