Two years after the original Lovecraftian horror tale came to a close, the Priest returns for more cosmic-action in Forgive Me Father 2.
If you played the original Forgive Me Father, then you know why it was one of the best horror shooters in recent years. Melding throwback gameplay with some slick graphics that sported a coat of comic book paint, it was a fast and brutal time that served up some good (at times even a little creepy) fun.
Now Fulqrum Publishing and developer Byte Barrel are back with another round, or at least they are in Early Access. The original game ran this route as well, and it’s pretty common across the board these days, especially when it comes to independent PC titles.
The mode of delivery gives developers time to keep working on their game, while letting fans play well ahead of launch and deliver feedback about their experience. It’s a pretty cool innovation, though not one that stands with a few shortfalls. And in the case of Forgive Me Father 2, short is the operative term.
But while this opening shot is a quick play-through, it’s also one that’s fun as all get-out and has tons of promise.
Back for round two
The first installment in the series, Forgive Me Father gave players a choice of two protagonists. Not that either one was all that fleshed-out, but there was a superficial option. For the sequel though, the Journalist has been scrapped in favor of a starring role for the Priest, which certainly makes sense given the game’s title. And when this game opens, he’s not having that great of a time.
Apparently arrested and placed in a lunatic asylum, the Priest wakes to find himself in a cell. While barred not unlike a prison, the door to his new dwelling is open, and he can come and go as he pleases. Maybe. Possibly? Honestly, I’m not sure.
What’s really happening is actually a little confusing, but it seems as though the game’s levels (which are extremely varied) all play out in the Father’s head. This happens by way of a series of letters that keep arriving… somehow, and from uh… someone.
Each note loosely details some horrific happening, and plays as a text-based intro to subsequent levels that players engage with. It’s actually kind of neat, and really different from the first game’s campaign, which was much more straightforward. You don’t have to read through the letters either, and even visiting the “hub” (asylum) isn’t necessary if you don’t want to. The game gives you the option, though refusing to go back at least a few times means you won’t be able to upgrade your weaponry.
the question remains though, are all these horrific things happening only in the Priest’s mind? You’ll have to stay tuned for that, as once again the Early Access version of the game is the first episode only, and has no real ending.
Playing with madness
While the story is all new, the gameplay is more or less the same as in the original Forgive Me Father. That’s to say it’s firmly rooted in ‘retro’ sensibilities, and perfectly happy to be so. I suppose it’s a decent example of what the kids would call a “Boomer Shooter”, though I personally am not the biggest fan of that term.
But whatever you want to call it, players will blast their way through the game’s maps, annihilating foes while finding their way around, locating keys, and collecting items, ammo, and health. It’s very straightforward, but tons of fun.
Enemy types are well varied, with zombies of various kind that charge right at you, cosmic-creeps that blast you from a distance, and even grenade-chucking freaks that eat damage like candy. Well, they do unless you have a good old fashioned double-barrel that is.
Much like the menagerie you combat in Forgive Me Father 2, the arsenal is excellent. Players have access to shotguns, pistols, rifles, and grenade launchers, and each one of those has variants that you can buy in the game’s shop. We’re not talking superficial upgrades either, as the first boost for the shotgun is literally another shotgun (double-barreled). So effectively, ‘upgrading’ buys a whole new piece of hardware, and there’s more too, as madness is your buddy in Forgive Me Father 2.
While most Lovecraftian titles punish players with insanity, this one actually rewards them. That’s a holdover from the original as well, and remains something unique when factoring in the theme. Basically there are different buffs that you can buy, that will grant you powers and abilities far beyond those of mortal man. They don’t last all that long, but once triggered they can tilt the tide of a pitched battle.
What the hell is that?!
I realize that the overall look of Forgive Me Father might be an acquired taste. This isn’t a game that has ultra-realistic enemies and levels after all, and once again it does fall into a ‘retro’ category. But just like with the first title in the set, everything in this game absolutely pops.
Enemies are 2D sprites, must like in classic FPS’ like Doom and Heretic, and due to that they have a kind of paper-thin look to them. That was the aesthetic in the original as well, though this time around they actually have more animations and more viewable angles. It’s a great look that, much like other aspects of the game, is unique to the now-series.
And those sprites can be pretty dang gruesome too. Zombies are suitable vile, but the ‘just not-human enough’ prisoners and mobsters are disturbing, and the more Cthulian creatures can get downright disgusting the closer you get, and the more you can see of them, as you blast off their armor.
Levels in part two are head and shoulders past what was in the original game. FMF2’s maps are incredibly cool, running a really wide array of themes, from an abandoned mansion to the trenches of WWI. Each one is filled with cool little details too, and some incredibly effective lighting.
And accompanying those visuals, the music sets the tone well, complete with some sound effects that are nice and punchy. That goes for both the booms of weapons, and the groans and otherworldly radio chatter of enemies. Unfortunately though, if you’re looking for voice work, you won’t really find it here. While that might usually annoy me, I personally don’t find it necessary in this kind of a game.
While I loved almost everything about Forgive Me Father 2’s Early Access arrival, I do have to come back around to the fact that it’s very short. This is just episode one, and while everything hits the mark (including an awesome boss fight), those looking for something lengthier might want to hold off for now.
That said, if you’re down to play this one in pieces as updates arrive, then you’re going to find a lot to like about Forgive Me Father 2. Byte Barrel has once again created something terrific, and I can’t wait to play more of it.
A copy of Forgive Me Father 2 was provided by Fulqrum Publishing for this review
Forgive Me Father 2
Release Date: September 28th, 2023
Publisher: Fulqrum Publishing
Developer: Byte Barrel