Lovecraftian horror comes to consoles with an action bent, as Byte Barrel’s semi-retro FPS Forgive Me Father arrives.
The horror… the horror
Shooters and H.P. Lovecraft don’t go together. The writer’s work lends his influence typically to brooding, menacing games drenched in atmosphere and lurking horror. Developer Byte Barrel however, has crafted an excellent shooter that blends old-fashioned style shooters with contemporary trends, to produce a gumbo that is certain to satisfy gamers, whatever their tastes may be.
How do you play? You hold down the trigger until everything attacking you stops moving! If you’ve enjoyed a boomer shooter (either lately or when they first came out), you’ll know what to do. Start circle strafing, son!
Turns out surviving a Cthulian-apocalypse is a good time
As is tradition in Lovecraftian horror, the player is an otherwise average person, in this case either a reporter or a priest, that has been summoned to the New England town of Pestisville. Immediately upon their arrival, things take a heavy turn. Said hero is besieged by zombies and other demons, and in Forgive Me Father that leaves only one option.
Relying on their guns and whatever other items found scattered in the game’s world, they must fight their way through the hordes of monstrosities, to both escape and learn the truth of the horror that has settled upon Pestisville. And not only does the game tout an impressive bestiary, but each creature of the netherrealm has a cool look, based around an intriguing aesthetic.
What terrors lurk
The art style of Forgive Me Father employs paper-doll thin, 2D enemies moving in a three-dimensional world. More or less, it’s basically Wolfenstein, but with a cell shade that gives the environment the impression of an old pre-code EC comic book.
The enemies are creative, elaborating upon stock tropes of zombies and other shooter enemies to produce new types of foes. Just as an example, the basic “zombie” enemy carries a head in its hand. This can be used as a weapon, and also to plunk atop their shoulders when you headshot the first one off. So even though it’s a bad guy that you’ve fought in dozens of other video games, this particular game manages to make it interesting.
Levels are spent going through one environment, with each involving at least one arena area where you fight through thick waves of enemies. These stages are timed, giving speed runners something to aim for. And while levels are pretty short, the amount and volume of hostiles will add plenty of challenge.
Shooting aplenty, but don’t forget the insanity
As is tradition in Lovecraft inspired games, Forgive me Father employs a sanity meter, albeit with a twist. The more damage you take and the more alcohol you consume, the higher the meter goes, resulting in an increase to the damage you can deal.
This has got to be the first time that this mechanic has been used to actually empower the player. And on top of that, you can also find various objects while out and about, such as crucifix that heals wounds, to aid you in your quest. Other than that, the gameplay is pretty standard shooting. Fun shooting, but nevertheless.
While all of that sounds good, it is not to say that the game is perfect. For one thing, starting off every level with the ammo and health you had when you finished the previous one gets annoying. Also I’m fairly certain not all of my shots connected, so hit-detection might be a little off.
That can add frustration when you’ve gone through one set of enemies only to start off on the backfoot.
Aside from that last point above, there’s not a lot to hate about Fear Me Father. Aesthetically and mechanically, Byte Barrel’s take on Lovecraft is a refreshing variation on a shopworn theme. Grab a 2L bottle of your favourite soda and settle in front of a cathode ray television for an all-nighter, ’cause tonight we’re gonna game like it’s 1998!
A copy of Forgive Me Father was provided by Fulqrum Publishing for this review
Forgive Me Father
Release date: September 28th, 2023
Platforms: PS4 (reviewed), Xbox One, Switch, PC
Publisher: Fulqrum Publishing
Developer: Byte Barrel
MSRP: $24.99 USD