Forgive Me Father is a retro FPS from developer Byte Barrel and publisher 1C Entertainment that runs in the vein of classics like Doom but uses the Unreal Engine. The visual aesthetic is reminiscent of either Mike Mignola’s Hellboy comic or Frank Miller’s heavy noir art style. It has charm, finesse, and engaging gunplay to boot, so let me tell you more about why you need to consider taking a gander at this retro shooter. I’ll give you the pros and cons of the game and let you, the reader, make the decision.
It may be in its public beta phase, but I see a lot of good in the foundations of Forgive Me Father. Simply speaking, the look and the atmosphere is absolutely killer. Movement-wise, its floaty but not bothersome; fine for the most part. There is the classic retro head bobbing, which is a bit irksome to me, but you can turn it off in the options. I’ll explore the in-game options menu now to let you know on what’s under the hood of the game. Yes, we know it is an Unreal Engine game, but it does have some interesting bells and whistles tacked on.
Under The Hood (Options)
You’ve got your standard difficulty sliders (Normal to Expert) which is nice, although it is weird that they have a Super Easy mode. As an aside, keep in mind that I played in Normal for a normal experience. Other preferences are in the options, like subtitles, show crosshair, and head bobbing. There is even a scroll delay option and, even though I did not tinker it, it is good to have some additional customization.
Audio is standard — no real complaints. Display is standard, 1024×768 up to the maximum of 1920×1080. This part is interesting if you have a low rig; the FPS can be locked to a minimum of 30 and a maximum of 144 FPS. On their tool tip of “Lock FPS” it reads: “Locks the frames per second (FPS) to a fixed value. It is advised to lock the FPS if the frame rate is highly variable or exceeds your monitor’s refresh rate.” Field of View has a slider with options between 75 and 95. I have set mine to 90.
In the Graphics section of the options, you can customize your visual experience. You can control the amount of foliage, the anti-aliasing, and all that kind of stuff. In the advanced settings you can change view distance from Near to Epic. Ambient Occlusion is enabled by default. It also has Resolution Scaling, I did not touch these options. The only graphics setting that I found missing was the option to turn of the sort of cinematic border around your screen.
Controls has your standard stuff but also has the ability to play with a controller. I’m not a very big fan of the controller method but it is nice to have the option.
After having played the game for a couple of weeks on-and-off, I can confidently say I really enjoyed my time. The atmosphere is oppressive, the sound design is morbid, and the use of sound, with some exceptions; really damn good! Oh, and the guns — OH LET ME TELL YOU ABOUT THE DAMN GUNS!
They’re fantastic. I haven’t played with all variations of the weapons, but here are your options:
- Your Knife can be upgraded either to rend with strong melee attacks or as a throwing knife.
- The Pistol can be upgraded to a Mauser with high accuracy but less damage, or you can go cowboy with dual pistols. One last upgrade for the pistol is still in the works.
- The Shotgun, the work horse of any retro fps game, has its own upgrade tree as well. One branch allows it to fire more shots and increase its range while the other fires more and can blast through walls. A close-range terror, for sure.
- The Thompson is your base line rapid fire gun. Be careful, though: if you hold mouse 1 and fire, the bullets begin to fly sporadically. You need to fire in bursts if you want some control. The Thompson has fairly linear upgrades that increase its firing speed and damage (other upgrades are currently work-in-progress).
- The SMG is a gun that uses the pistol ammo. Despite only being able to fire in burst mode at first, you can upgrade it to fire in full-auto or convert it into a grenade launcher. Do with that info what you will but personally that sounds awesome.
The game also offers you some nifty tricks since currently, in this build, you are playing “the priest” and in the coming months it will have another playable character called “the journalist.” The skills of the priest are as follows:
- Use a Cross to heal a small amount of health. The effectiveness of the cross can be upgraded for better healing.
- Use a broom or a blessing staff that can root enemies in place. An interesting level of depth which allows you to manage enemies as you fight them.
- Use a Bible which makes you invincible for a few moments. This skill lends itself to a lot of clutch kills.
With all of these items, gameplay is a fine romp. You can feel the oppressive nature of the game — particularly with the first level’s fantastic lighting and fog. The gunplay, for the most part, is very good and interesting since there is immersive interplay with its monsters. Let’s talk now about the monsters since they are fairly unique to the game and feel truly inspired by Lovecraft’s horror.
The monsters of Forgive Me Father are very unique, putting a new spin on some worn out enemies. One example is the basic zombie: some of them carry a spare head, so if you shoot them right in the face, they will place the spare head right back on their neck. How fricking awesome is that!? They also have these projectile-throwing monsters. While you can shoot them, you need to be careful not to body-shot them too much, or else they’ll split in half and the top half will come chasing after you.
They also include a mimic disguised as an exploding barrel, which make quite the terrifying sound. Lovely. Another interesting monster is the masked trooper. When you shoot them, they will shed their skin as a trooper and turn into a walking amalgamation of eldritch horror, gaining enough speed in the process to smack you down. Others include a big Sarnath-looking dude (i.e. a big bulky fish guy that throws exploding fish) and the silent pyschos, who sit idly until you get somewhat close, then make a horrendous sound and transform into John Carpenter’s version of the Thing, making a damn b-line rushing towards you. Good Stuff.
To keep progress while fighting such monsters, you need to reach checkpoints, designated by hobos near cyclopean stones. At these stones, you can full-save or quick-save. This is part of the game’s efforts to prevent you from save-scumming. I don’t know what to make of it but it is interesting.
Overall, I found Forgive Me Father quite fun. The level ups provide new ways to play and the game takes the best of newer and older styles. The wide range of colors sometimes have that Italian b-movie horror look as well. The game is damn near perfect in my eyes, but no game is perfect or perfectly made.
My complaints are mainly regarding the skill tree and the sound design. The position of the skill tree is way into the righthand side of the screen and the tool tip is in the far left of the screen, creating an empty space in the middle of the screen that’s just ugly to me. I get it is in Early Access, but still, it bugs me. While we’re on the topic, the text of “press tab to exit” is also way to far on the right hand side, but it should be near the tool tip for ease of reading.
My other complaint is the sound. Don’t get me wrong, the sound is outstanding for certain aspects: ambience is top notch. However, I take issue with the sound design of the monsters. Remember the zombies, which are the basics enemies of the game? The sound is really lacking since they seldom moan and groan when the player is not attacking, leaving an awkward lack of monster related ambience. I really need some passive sounds and then some special sounds when they attack to make me really feel engaged with the game.
My last complaint regarding the sound is the fight music. The makers got the creepy aspects of game right with a very eerie and Lovecraftian vibe mixed with a dash John Carpenter synth. However, the music will then suddenly switch into some out-of-place heavy metal when near combat. As person who loves metal, I want to like it but I don’t. For me, the metal combat music is just out of place. I would to see a replacement of the sound with some darksynth type of music reminiscent of Dance of the Dead. A mixture of heavy synth and metal could potentially meet half-way to leave it a touch of that gruesome fighting spirit of metal music while maintaining the ambiance horror it works so hard to achieve.
Forgive Me Father, despite being in early access, is a great game so far; not perfect, but it’s getting there. There are plenty of ups and a few downs, but so far I’m loving every minute of this game (and I’m not a fan of horror games). I’ve seen the development road map so far and I’m really hooked on what’s to come from this game. If you’re interested in checking it out, take a look at the Steam store page for Forgive Me Father.