Published on October 15th, 2023 | by Gareth Newnham
Forgive Me Father Review (PS4)
Summary: Forgive Me Father is a frantic and fun horror FPS packed full of twisted enemies, inventive weapons and just enough mystery to keep you hooked.
The premise of Forgive Me Father is an exciting one: A 1930s noir shooter telling the tale of a hard-drinking priest and an investigative journalist facing hordes of eldritch horrors in a town in the deep south over-run by crazed cultists is just the kind of thing that makes me say sign me the F up.
The fact it works as a tough-as-nails Doom clone is just the icing on the cake. And why wouldn’t it? Who wouldn’t want to try and blow Cthulus’s brains out with a Tommy Gun?
As one of only two people not worshipping a fish god or mostly made of tentacles, it’s your job to cut through the hordes of Eldritch horrors with a selection of customisable weapons while trying to piece together just what the merry hell is happening.
The first thing you’ll notice is the superb art style that sits somewhere between Darkest Dungeon and EC comics; combining solid black lines and vivid colours the world of Forgive Me Father is packed full of gorgeous, gruesome, and varied enemies throughout its 25 levels that see you blast your way through the back streets, bayous and bordellos of the deep south as it slowly succumbs to madness.
It’s a shame, then, that the score doesn’t match the game’s setting. Though I enjoy a good pumping metal soundtrack as much as the next bearded bloke in a black t-shirt, I just feel like it would have worked better with something bluesier since it’s set in Louisiana.
When I say Forgive Me Father is a Doom clone, I mean it. More than your average boomer shooter, the attack patterns of enemies and how you need to zig-zag around each space with an incredibly itchy trigger finger are tactics straight out of Id’s classic, you also have a flashlight, Doom 3 style, used mostly in a few set-piece sections where the lights are turned out and you just know there’s some shambling sod waiting in the darkness to jump you.
The similarities to Doom 3 don’t end there, though, because the game is chock full of monster closets where picking up health items are walking down the wrong ally will spawn monsters behind you to stab and shoot you in the back. This is irritating at the best of times, but Forgive me, Father is desperately in need of some refinement and balancing in the difficulty department as most monsters will chew through your health in seconds, and you frequently run out of ammo. I’m not too proud to say I knocked the difficulty right down, but then it ended up being too easy. In that regard, I think splitting out the difficulty settings like Double Dragon: Gaiden would help players find the sweet spot between challenge and power fantasy, which Forgive Me Father doesn’t quite hit at the moment.
That’s not to say that Forgive Me, Father, doesn’t tweak the formula at all, as mowing down enemies slowly rewards you with experience, which in turn lets you slowly upgrade your abilities and arsenal, slowly transforming your bog stand weapons into weird and wonderful contraptions, Ok, so you have a Tommy gun, but what if instead of bullets it fired electricity, that handy pump action could really use more tentacles and bouncy buckshot, see that machine gun. Now it’s a sludge-powered mine launcher…Or you can just upgrade your six-shooter for a Luger, strap a stock onto your machine gun, and trade your pump action for a sawn-off – but where’s the fun in that?
This being a Lovecraftian game, it has an almost obligatory madness meter; however, instead of making you hallucinate or pretend you’ve just lost all your progress, it’s more of a silent combo meter that makes you stronger the more damage you deal, as well as helps replenish an array of reusable trinkets you collect as the game progresses including sage that briefly gives you a powerful sword that heals with every kill, a voodoo doll that knocks enemies back, a camera that stuns them, and a pack of smokes that makes you move faster (proving no one on the dev team has ever tried smoking and running at the same time).
The way the narrative in Forgive Me Father is presented fits right in with the tone, world, and Lovecraftian themes of the shooter. Told via a combination of environmental details and notes marked STORY in big white letters, and the occasional cut scene. Much like the game’s protagonists, you slowly piece the narrative together through your experiences and documents, much like your average journalist does, although unfortunately, every time I tried to conduct a vox op or interview in Forgive Me Father, it ended in a bloodbath. But hey, ho. This being a Lovecraftian mystery, I really don’t want to spoil it, but let’s just say it really does work in a less-is-more sense and move on from there.
As well as hunting down notes, each level is packed with Doom-style secrets that reward exploration with bonus ammo, health, and even a secret weapon at times.
However, if you just want to see how many monstrosities you can blast before they finally put you down, there’s a wave-based endless mode that works as you would expect. It’s a fun aside but the main meat of the game is definitely in the campaign.
Forgive Me Father is a fun and atmospheric Doom clone with a great setting, varied enemies, and slick, satisfying combat that is only let down by a soundtrack that, though great for a Doom clone, seems mismatched for the otherwise carefully crafted noir aesthetic.