STAFF REVIEW of Forgive Me Father (Xbox One)

Tuesday, January 30, 2024.
by Adam Dileva

Forgive Me Father Box art Forgive Me Father, for I have not heard of this game before it fell into my lap for review. A retro FPS that harkens back to the days of classic DOOM and Wolfenstein, though with some modern mechanics as well. With a heavy Lovecraftian setting and a comic book visual style, Forgive Me Father is a stylish take on the classic genre, one I enjoyed more than I initially expected.

Choosing to play as a Priest or Journalist, you’re called to a remote town via letter that appears to be abandoned when you arrive. Of course it doesn’t take long to realize all of the citizens have turn into monsters and zombies, all trying to kill you on sight. So begins your journey to figure out what’s happened and if you can stop it. There’s more story here, but it’s told in just a few cutscenes and lore pieces you can find and investigate along the way, so it was a bit hard to follow. If you don’t pay attention or find all the notes, quite a bit of background lore can be missed. Let’s be honest though, if I’m playing an old school retro FPS, I’m probably playing it more for the combat and gunplay rather than its story.

As you progress deeper and deeper in this horrifying town, you’ll find more evil at every turn. You’ll start out with a simple pistol, eventually equipping a handful of different weapons. Depending on which character you choose, Priest or Journalist, they also have a handful of different abilities which suit different playstyles, though it would have been nice to know the differences from the start.

I found the Priest much more powerful with his abilities as he can get moments of invulnerability, a few seconds of infinite ammo, a heal and more. The Journalist has an AoE attack, a heal when attacking, an AoE stun and a few others, but I still found the Priest’s abilities much more useful overall. The priest also fits the dark Lovecraft setting as you blast your way through hordes of enemies. There’s some slight differences in the story based on which character you play, though I don’t believe enough to warrant a second playthrough unless you want to play with the other abilities and skill tree loadout.

Given that Forgive Me Father is a retro FPS, it also appears just like they originally did, 2D characters in a 3D world. You’ll find classic health, armor and ammo pickups, as well as needing to find colored keys to match their corresponding doors to make progress. Most levels are fairly linear, and while there’s the odd few branching paths here and there, they usually house some sort of secret like extra armor and ammo. No need to worry about reloading either, as you’ll keep firing away as long as you have the ammunition for it.

There’s a decent range of enemies you’ll face throughout your journey, and yes, you’ll see many of them constantly reused, but it’s no less fun to blast them all away as they rush you. Even though they appear as 2D cardboard cutouts, they are animated decently and sound as you’d expect evil monsters to with their groans. The early enemies will be simple cannon fodder, eventually having more abilities and even annoying flying enemies in the latter half. While not a huge variety of weapons, the skill tree and mutating the weapons is where you get variety. You have your typical pistols, rifles and launchers, each of which is generally best suited for a specific enemy type or situation.

Level design is generally quite basic. The first few chapters are very small cramped and indoor hallways, whereas the latter stages are a bit more open and less confined. There’s no real getting lost, even without a map. As the genre dictates, you’ll need to find specific colored keys for the matching doors to make progress, which almost always ends up with a few waves of enemies spawning right after you pick up said key. There’s even some platforming you’ll need to do early on, with a little more focus on it later, which is part of its weaker sections.

With the Lovecraft backdrop, you can also expect to manage your madness levels. The more ‘mad’ you become, this will make you more powerful, even changing the visuals and audio to a focused black and white experience. It’s apparently tied to a combo meter or sorts, but not explained all that well from the beginning. And if you want to save your progress you’ll need to find the fixed save points. There are usually a couple per level so it’s not a big deal if you die and have to restart, but there a few sections that aren’t fun to redo due to an untimely death.

Luckily the journey is where it’s fun. Shooting your weapons feels and sounds solid, and the huge boss fights were the most memorable highlights of the whole adventure. With each gun being able to be upgraded a different way, even a typical boring shotgun can be something different. There’s a large skill tree, and each weapon can branch into two different options. Typically one will allow for better range, damage or reload speed as per usual, whereas the other option is where it gets more interesting possibly completely changing your gun in other ways. While I could have chosen to have more damage on my pistols, I instead opted for the other upgrade path that allowed me to have two pistols instead. Same goes for one of the other regular guns, eventually morphing it into a grenade launcher that looks like it was designed my Cthulhu himself as it looks as though its covered in moving tentacles.

You’ll also be able to choose how you want to upgrade your skills as well, health and ammunition upgrades, even earn more XP per kill if you want. Make sure you have an upgrade plan early on though, as the experience needed to earn a new skill point in the later sections felt incredibly long. The first few hours I was upgrading quite often, but it certainly slowed down near the end. Enemies near the end also turned into annoying damage sponges and flying creatures that make you waste a lot of ammo, so maybe that was part of it as well.

The comic book style works quite well and suits the 2D characters. Don’t let that fool you though, as Forgive Me Father is absolutely bloody at every turn. Blasting holes in monsters leaves a ton of blood splatter everywhere, a great contrast to the dark and brooding environments. Where the game really shines though is with its kick ass metal soundtrack. When it’s time to fight you’ll certainly know, because the music kicks into high gear and gets you pumped. While the voice acting is decent at best, there’s not much of it, and the soundtrack elevates the audio as a whole.

While not the most unique retro FPS I’ve ever played, I enjoyed my time with Forgive Me Father due to the unique skill tree and weapon alterations you can choose, along with a badass metal soundtrack that I wasn’t expecting. If you’ve ever wanted classic DOOM but with the Lovecraftian setting, Forgive Me Father is absolutely what you’ve been waiting for, flaws and all.

**Forgive Me Father was provided by the publisher and reviewed on an Xbox Series X**

Overall: 8.0 / 10
Gameplay: 7.0 / 10
Visuals: 8.0 / 10
Sound: 9.0 / 10


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