There's so much untapped potential when taking from H.P. Lovecraft's sources, but I find that they rarely achieve the desired result. Such is the case with Forgive Me Father, an aptly named boomer shooter that is surely asking for mercy from God after subjecting its players to such mediocrity.
I get it, with the boomer shooter genre we are spoiled for choice, and not every game can live up to the very high bar set by Dusk, Amid Evil, Ion Fury, and more. Yet, when playing Forgive Me Father, I couldn't help but see how it fails to compete in this heated market.
Forgive Me Father Never Reaches its Full Gameplay Potential
In Forgive Me Father, players take the role of either a priest or journalist, and depending on which character you choose, gameplay will vary a bit. The guns used by both are the same, but you have different tools at your disposal. For example, the priest uses a holy cross, bible, and more while the journalist uses voodoo dolls, cigarettes, and other doodads. I'll give credit where credit is due: Both characters feel different from one another due to the difference in tools. I finished the game with the journalist and found her tools to be useful (for the most part), though her camera, which stuns enemies in place, is unpredictable and doesn't land a hit as often as it should.
Indeed, I had many gripes with Forgive Me Father while in its Early Access state, and most of these flaws remain consistent while also remaining consistent with its strengths. Weapon handling was a bit of an issue in the earlier build of Forgive Me Father, and as with the camera, hit registration seems off at times. One tool in the journalist's skillset is a cigar you can take a puff of and it puts you into a psychedelic frenzy while holding this magical sword. It's a powerful ability that melts through enemies, but actually landing a hit with the sword is difficult. My cursor was always over enemies, yet the attack would miss. Her pack of cigarettes slows enemies down to a crawling pace, so any sort of aiming issue is mitigated a bit while using that handy item.
But being a boomer shooter, guns are the main tools in your arsenal. I like the way guns affect enemies in Forgive Me Father. They do feel powerful -- even the weaker weapons -- and seeing these Lovecraftian monsters and shambling zombies explode is fun. Likewise, I previously applauded Forgive Me Father for the way guns sound, and I believe most players would find them to sound satisfying when shooting. Regardless, I was restricted to using only a few weapons most of the game due to a very real, frustrating problem.
I admit, this problem is of my own making, but I wager many players will experience the same issue I did. You see, in Forgive Me Father, players level up and can choose perks to upgrade their character. Oftentimes, these upgrades work towards making your weapons more powerful or changing their characteristics. I think this idea sets Forgive Me Father apart from other shooters on the market, as these perks offer irreversible choices that require players to think hard and tune a character to their liking. But the permanent nature of these choices means you cannot reverse your mistake. What I mean to say is, that I chose upgrades that changed my weapons and altered the type of ammo these guns used. As a result, I encountered severe ammo scarcity.
Yes, Forgive Me Father is stingy on ammo pickups, and my choice of perks only exacerbated this problem. Early on, I chose to turn my Thompson machine gun into an energy weapon, which required a different ammo type. The problem is, this ammo type was extremely scarce and I only came across it twice for roughly 75 percent of the campaign's duration, up until a weapon that natively used energy ammo was introduced. And for that large chunk of the game, I saw so many ammo pickups for the bullet version of the Thompson that I could not use. I also chose a shotgun upgrade that consumed double the ammo but was also more powerful. I quickly ran out of shotgun ammo, and so the problem with ammo scarcity soon became a very real dilemma.
It's worth noting, only well after the fact did I realize my problem with this Thompson may be due to a reported bug; nonetheless, I was able to gain energy ammo much further into the campaign, so it may be that this is tweaked by release. Regardless, this lack of ammo combined with a possible was not exclusive to this weapon and I found the amount of ammo found in levels to either be scarce for certain weapons or stingy overall. The possible bug, perks I chose for my weapons, and amount of ammo pickups created an unsatisfying mess,
The result of my actions led to my use of two weapons for most of the game: A pistol and throwing knives. The former was because of an overabundance of ammo pickups for that type, and the latter was because it doesn't require ammo. It makes for a very, very boring and mediocre boomer shooter when you're stuck using only a couple of weapons. I think this entire issue is fixable by the developers as well as avoidable for players, but I can see many falling into the same pitfall as I did.
The second problem that really hindered my enjoyment of Forgive Me Father was its inconsistent level design. Some levels are linear while others feel like mazes; moreover, some are gargantuan and others much smaller. Forgive Me Father also attempts to be Lovecraftian but fails to stick to a single theme. Each level feels like one disjointed episode to the next. Honestly, it feels like Forgive Me Father's levels were created by a different individual for each one, without any sort of collaboration between the designers to have consistency. Only at the very start and very end of Forgive Me Father does it lean heavily into those Lovecraftian elements, it's inspired by, with everything else in the middle feeling like a mess.
Forgive Me Father's Art Direction Impresses, At Least
I imagine many players will find Forgive Me Father's art style to be the drawing point, as it was for me. The melding of 2D and 3D is beautiful when done right, and Forgive Me Father achieves a dark and gritty, yet wholly unique look. I love the comic-like style its enemies and weapons are portrayed as, and I found myself excited to see what the next boss would look like or what an upgrade would turn my weapon into. It's a huge letdown to see such a wonderful-looking game failing to live up to its potential when everything else bogs it down.
The music is another highlight that works so well in tandem with the visuals. The score is spooky and almost disturbing at times. On many levels, it's quiet but ramps up into an intense, badass melody that serves as a wonderful backdrop for the madness of being surrounded by so many enemies.
I'm also happy to report that the performance issues I experienced in the Early Access version of Forgive Me Father are mostly alleviated. Areas where I'd get strange and severe FPS drops were now gone, and for most of the game, it was a relatively smooth ride. There were some instances where I believe the grainy filter of the screen, environmental details, and effects caused by the journalist's cigarette item put a lot of stress on my system and dropped the FPS well under 30, whereas most of the time I was achieving a framerate of over 100.
The only other issue in terms of presentation is the voice acting. I'd like to think the voice actors for Forgive Me Father are talented and were without any sort of direction, and that's why the result is what it is. But I have to say, Forgive Me Father has some of the worst performances I've ever heard in a game. The journalist's voice was at times unbearable because it lacked any sort of range or emotion -- it really did feel like the actress wasn't interested in the material at all. There's a narrator as well, and again, it seems like there's no voice direction for the lines being said. The lines come out as stiff and brings about more cringes than horror or mystery as the voice should do.
Forgive Me Father | Final Thoughts
Forgive Me Father is a maddening and often nonsensical mess that, for whatever reason, is still fun. Despite my many complaints, you can definitely do a lot worse when it comes to boomer shooters. I'm harsh because I see so much potential that was never realized -- potential in its upgrade system, weapons, and level design. Unfortunately, stellar art direction and music can only carry a game so far. My vision for how I wanted Forgive Me Father to become versus what developer Byte Barrel envisioned, and I can at least applaud them for creating something a bit unique but without any sort of pizazz.
TechRaptor reviewed Forgive Me, Father on Steam with a copy provided by the publisher.
- Excellent, Comic Book Art Direction and Music
- Leveling System Leads to Frustrating Problems Such as Ammo Scarcity
- Hit Registration is Iffy at Times
- Level Design Feels Inconsistent and Disconnected
- Dreadful Voice Acting