Forgive Me Father, Endless Love Preview: A Blast from the Past

An early access preview into Forgive Me Father shows it to be a must for retro shooter fans. The Lovecraftian horror/shooter has a distinct aethestic and old school play style that lets you indulge in nostalgia whilst still getting something new. The latest update brings an endless mode, as well as new levels and bosses.

Forgive Me Father, Endless Love Preview: A Blast from the Past

I thank whichever Eldritch God brought Forgive Me Father into my life for a preview. It’s a retro shooter that mixes 2d models in 3d environments. If you’ve played the Doom or Serious Sam series, you will know what to expect. Set in a Lovecraftian story, you will be in a nonstop bloodbath as you annihilate your way through an assortment of crazed individuals and monsters. Developed by Byte Barrel and published by 1C Entertainment, Forgive Me Father is oozing charm and light fun, whilst also avoiding the pitfalls of retro shooters. It’s the type of nostalgia hit we need given the glut of bad remakes.

Forgive Me Father - Early Access Launch Trailer

The most recent update to the early access introduces an endless mode. Not unlike Call of Duty Zombies mode, you must survive endless waves whilst upgrading your weapons and tools. All in all, this game is a lot of fun, and shows how entertaining a game can be when the fundamentals are executed well.

The Story – A Classic Lovecraft Comic

The story in Forgive Me Father takes a backseat to the gameplay in the early access preview. There is more there than I was expecting but it still largely fell to the wayside. It has clear inspiration from Lovecraft’s work and feels like a comic based upon the writers works. You play as a priest, the last sane person trying to uncover an eldritch conspiracy involving local politicians and companies. The locals have been turned into deranged undead monsters and you will have to fight for your survival. The developers have also stated there will be an alternate protagonist, a journalist, who has access to a different skill tree.

It’s hard to say much about the story. There’s enough mystery and environmental storytelling to add flavour to the events. There is also a sufficiently creepy atmosphere built through the story and environments. However, the game makes it hard to take in. Firstly, because the gameplay is so fast paced it’s difficult to read your characters dialogue as you dodge attacks. Secondly there isn’t a journal or inventory available to reread notes you have found.

Quite often you won't have time to read the dialogue

Quite often you won’t have time to read the dialogue

Going into the game I expected much less from the story, so what was there was a pleasant surprise. But don’t go into this game expecting an engaging narrative. From the sample we have of Forgive Me Father, it is all about the gameplay.

The Gameplay: A Retro Delight

If you’ve watched the trailer, you know what this game is. It’s a throwback to old school carnage. No reloading (other than the shotgun), no tactics (other than strafing) and heaps of blood. You can tell that the developers have a lot of love and knowledge of the genre and what works, what doesn’t, and where to add those little bits of detail that makes it stand apart.

The Combat

You’ll spend about 95% of your time in this game shooting or being shot at. Given the core mechanic of the game is its combat, how does it do?

Pretty damn good. The gunplay is smooth, even when things are extremely busy on screen. You can dance through trouble with ease. Each weapon has uses in different scenarios and the modest amount of ammo you get means you will be switching through your weapons regularly. Each one changes the gameplay as you unlock it. Different guns suit different enemies, but we will get that when discussing the monsters.

Each weapon can be upgraded as well, with different paths to go down. The pistol can get a faster fire rate or be duel wielded. The burst action gun can become a grenade launcher or full auto. This added choice lets you evolve your style of gameplay and helps keep the game fresh.

Along with your guns, you have access to several different powers. You can use healing, infinite ammo, infinite health, and a stun power. These might sound overpowered, but they are carefully balanced along with the enemy types. A few seconds of immortality, for example, won’t let you clear a room, but it can let you eliminate the fisherman (who throw explosive fish) to prevent the area becoming a minefield.

Holy Water can stun enemies for a brief period of time

Holy Water can stun enemies for a brief period of time

Your skill tree lets you upgrade your tools and powers. Each upgrade, especially for the guns, successfully changes the gameplay and lets you beat encounters that may have been too much for you before. All the mechanics encourage a brutal and aggressive play style, which fits in well with the games Madness mechanic.

That’s not to say it’s absent of tactics. The violence is quick, but you want to think it through as save points are few and far between. This also means that if you die, you will complete the level faster each time as you learn enemy placements.

The Madness Mechanic

Much like Bloodborne, Forgive Me Father wants you to play aggressively. The more you kill, the higher your madness gets. The higher your madness, the more damage you deal and the less you take. This combined with enemies dropping health and ammo for a brief period after dying means you should be flying into the blood rather than hiding behind cover.

Madness also causes your vision to lose colour which is a nice touch as it makes the bright red of the blood pop even more. Madness also charges your powers so it’s a key part of the game if you want to be a demi-god of death. If you don’t cause any damage for a while your madness level resets to zero.

I'm not sure what the tentacles do but it is working

I’m not sure what the tentacles do but it is working

I like this mechanic, not just because it functions well with the gameplay but also because it fits the character you play as. It makes sense that a priest would be going insane in this situation, especially when he is forced to kill en masse which I hear is frowned upon in the church.

Forgive Me Fathers’ Monsters

Monsters and enemies are what make or break these types of games. Fortunately, Byte Barrel has you covered. There is a nice diversity of enemies. There are simple possessed individuals/zombies, abominations, swamp monsters, ranged liquidators, grenade throwing fisherman and many more. The introduction of each new enemy is a welcome addition that varies the gameplay and demands a little more from the player. You’ll need to switch weapons depending on the threat. For example Fat Fish can split in 2 to dodge shotgun blasts. The bosses as well offer dynamic, changing fights that are challenging but satisfying.

Each design is distinct and interesting, which pops well with the visual style.

Boss fights are intense but satisfying

Boss fights are intense but satisfying

What really delighted me with the Forgive Me Father preview is the little touches. Not only are their numerous enemy types, but they also change as they are damaged. These changes aren’t just aesthetic but also impact the enemy AI.

My personal favourite change is when you headshot a possessed person who is carrying another head, they will simple replace their head. It’s a goofy touch but a welcome one. Another example is the liquidators. They start off shooting luminous green projectiles but after being damaged enough they fall apart into a gooey skeletal mess that melee attacks.

All in all, the monsters are great in this game, both visually and mechanically. The AI is intelligent with some enemies using cover, others only reacting when you get close. The variety in monsters and weapons means the game is changing enough that it doesn’t just become a stale hallway shooter.

Map Design

Given the style of shooter this is, it’s imperative that the levels and maps are sufficiently interesting and dynamic. The game starts quite simply but the level design changes up nicely throughout. There’s a good use of verticality in both movement options and enemy placement and the maps connect nicely. Much like in Dark Souls (Which is a clear inspiration given the number of references) you can see areas of the map you have been to or will go to from afar. Opening doors will loop you back to previous areas giving the exploration a satisfying feeling. Platforming elements are introduced which is a nice addition, especially when it starts to combine with the shooting. Overall, the map design impressed me, with new elements being trickled in to keep you engaged.

Graphics and Audio: Forgive Me Fathers’ Sights and Sounds

The other major selling point of Forgive Me Father is the distinct visual style demonstrated in the early access preview. The comic book styling is wonderful. It’s simplistic but well detailed. Each frame is straight out of a dark horror comic. The enemies look great, especially the liquidators and Crab-Men. The guns look amazing and the details on the upgraded weapons are fantastic.

Forgive me Father has some oddly beautiful moments

Forgive me Father has some oddly beautiful moments

All the 2D elements are great, and for the most part the 3d environments are good. There are some visually striking images. However, at times they can be a bit bland. There is also a bit of a reliance on hanging skeletons to decorate and fill space.

Other than those minor nitpicks the game is pleasure to look at. The hand drawn graphics are amazing, the enemies are detailed and the evolution of their look as you take them down are awesome. The Forgive Me Father preview has pizzazz to spare when it comes to the looks.

How much you like the audio may come down to your tolerance for techno and heavy metal. From sample of music in the game, Forgive Me Father gets LOUD. You feel epic as you tear enemies to shreds as hardcore music blares. If you hate that kind of music, it might get on your nerves.

There’s a nice contrast between the pulsing beats of combat and the more relaxed tunes of peace time. The music isn’t too repetitive and there are some cool synth and organ tracks in there. The sounds of weapons and enemies are all excellent. As you upgrade your guns into Lovecraftian tools the sounds change as well. The bubbling and squelching of the upgraded grenade launcher and shotgun respectively sound great.

Forgive Me Father: The Endless Love

The most recent update came with the addition of an endless mode. This has potential, but it’s a bit dull. The levels are designed well, with room for movement and the kiting of enemies. However, they are quite small, with no expansion. If they went the way of Call of Duty Zombies, with multiplayer, openable doors, maybe some bosses, it could be cool. At the moment though it’s mostly just repetitive survival. It’s not a bad way to practice but when compared to the story missions, it’s just not got much replayability.

In a way, it feels like what the game could have been if it went wrong. Just running in circles and shooting. It doesn’t harm the experience, but it’s not what shines about the game

Forgive Me Father was previewed on Steam, with a key provided by 1C publishing.

Summary
There’s a real sense of identity to the game, through its visuals, audio, and gameplay. It’s the nostalgia fix we need when so many old franchises go sour. Finally, a game executed well by a team that clearly has a lot of talent, dedication, and insight into what makes retro gaming work, whilst also having their own vision. If you’re an old school gamer who’s been itching for a retro shooter that’s just balls to the wall action and fun, then you’ll love this. If you’re a new gamer or younger, this will show you how it was done back in the day. Don’t go in expecting much from story. Kick back and have fun. Just makes sure not to burst your eardrums.
Good
  • Great choice of weapons and powers
  • Well designed enemies with fun progression when taking damage
  • Distinct comic book style with great attention to detail
  • Levels are well designed to keep you engaged
Bad
  • the story takes a back seat
  • some areas look better than others
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