Forgive Me Father Preview
They call Forgive Me Father a “classic shooter”, but I like to use the original genre name “Doom-clone”. Yeah, the genre name that’s grown to become first-person-shooters had lots of problems because it limited the genre’s growth (like Souls-like), but I truly believe there is a place for the name now that games have grown past OG Doom. Specifically, because games like Forgive Me Father is going back to their roots in replicating that classic Doom-clone feel.
The aesthetic flavour Forgive Me Father is going for is of the Lovecraft variety, albeit in the popularized appearances rather than the themes. All the classics are there—insane people, creepy tentacle monsters, and evil cultists! If you are the type of person who is skittish about horror, I wouldn’t worry too much. This game is horror like Doom is “horror” because it takes place in hell.
What Makes a Doom-Clone?
Although this isn’t the most important aspect of a game that makes it feel like a Doom-clone, the thing that always gets me is how things are modelled. All enemies and almost all objects in the game look like cardboard cutouts, I think if you’ve seen it, you know what I’m talking about. They are all completely 2-D but they always pivot to face you perfectly, never really letting you see their flat side (unless you are looking straight down at them). With the walls being mostly flat textures, it really gives it this cheap (in a good way) haunted house mood that, for me, makes it feel like a Doom-clone.
Of course, most of the important bits are there too. 1. Incredibly high-paced FPS action where you can move super fast with practically no friction. 2. Rarely using cover, but more relying on constantly strafe-shooting to avoid projectiles. 3. You can carry all weapons on you, increasing your arsenal as you discover more. 4. Secret spots found by exploration that rewards you with armour, health, and ammunition. I think that pretty much covers it.
And I’m happy to report that it gets the fundamentals right. The game feels good to play. Combat is, although rather simple, fun and smooth. There is a minimal amount of platforming which maintains a pretty easy difficulty, focusing on the enemies to provide the challenge.
What’s the Mood?
As I said in the opening, the game is trying to approach a Lovecraftian feel with story and setting and although it doesn’t execute the intentionality behind the source material at all, the game manages to look pretty good. Using hard outlines and heavy blacks, the art style is reminiscent of some comic book artists, specifically Mike Mignola (creator of Hellboy) for me. For people unfamiliar with his work, it’s the style that blew up in popularity with Darkest Dungeon’s expert use of it a few years ago.
But unfortunately, other aspects of horror are missing in this game. How are you going to portray helplessness against incomprehensible foes when you are capable of killing five monsters a second? There is a bit of an attempt at horror on certain levels where the game forces you to traverse dark areas. To be able to see, the game provides you with a lantern, but it can’t be used while you are holding a weapon, which forces you to make some spooky choices. Other than that, it’s pretty much an action game.
There is the obligatory madness/sanity mechanic because, of course, it’s Lovecraftian, but it’s a completely throwaway mechanic. It’s a simple bar that fills as you are in combat which provides you with more damage and defenses as long as you keep killing things. Then it rapidly empties when you are out of combat. I found that the enemy density was never really enough to carry over your madness between fights, and didn’t actually encourage me to go any faster, which is unfortunate because that could have given the mechanic some player-choice significance. For the thematics of it, it’s completely bunk.
Forgive Me Father also has a buttload of easter eggs to find, ranging from Dark Souls, It, Starwars, and old internet memes? And I don’t mean a few, there are so many of them in the game, and they are not really that hidden. I never really understood people that liked easter eggs like this, they’ve always turned me off. I mean specifically, the jokey world-breaking references thrown in an otherwise serious game for cheap laughs or so we can feel proud of ourselves for “getting it”. If the developers are not taking the story seriously, why should I?
All in all, Forgive Me Father is a fine game. They get the gameplay right, which is the most important, but it has no highlights yet. I hope they add some interesting weapons and enemies to spice up the formula.
Thank you for keeping it locked on COGconnected.