It’s been a year and a half since the niche but excellent release in Forgive Me Father, an old-school stylised FPS with a Lovecraftian-inspired world and 2D characters and enemies in a 3D world. Consider us pleasantly surprised then, when we flash forward to today we have the beginning of a follow-up with Forgive Me Father 2‘s Early Access release. Featuring ten playable levels so far and plenty of more content and quality-of-life features to follow, its early days aren’t always the most even but still promise a quality shooter time without less of the mess of the predecessor.
The original Forgive Me Father had players choosing between two characters to play through the campaign: a priest or a journalist. This follow-up has players controlling strictly the former, once again delving into a world of Lovecraftian horror goodness. The story is neither here nor there. Some solid chunks are just in readables earned at the end of every mission, clueing you in only ever so slightly. Voice acting is not yet present in the game like its predecessor, something I found sorely lacking and I hope is included later in the game as struggling to read the subtitles of an occasional important line of dialogue mid-combat is distracting and a pain.
Where the game already excels is in its environmental storytelling and captivating dark world. Your HUB in between levels is a psych ward where you can be prescribed pills to gain new abilities with its ‘madness’ power-up system. These pills allow for both passive and active abilities where you somewhat ascend into a new power of being. Pressing Shift opens up a book and transports your visuals to black and white, suddenly gaining access to abilities such as leeching health off enemies you kill and becoming more resistant to damage. The implications of these magic pills prescribed to you by doctors almost certainly committing malpractice, sending you out on a journey to kill the mythic and Eldritch monsters piques the morbid curiosity in me greatly.
Accompanying this is quality set dressing, whether that’s the hauntingly gorgeous art style that depicts soldiers with tendrils spilling out of gas masks, bloated enemies filled with bullet holes, zombie men that nurse their beheaded head in their hands and the like. Mindless scrawlings on walls, secrets hidden around every corner… there are plenty of nice tidbits to provide a striking and memorable insight into the world, doing well enough to distract you from the relatively boxy design of levels.
Of course, a boomer shooter or retro-inspired FPS is nothing without its combat arenas and cool gunplay. It’s still quite fun to be blasting away at the colourful, deadly cast of enemies depicted in a graphic novel art style. Onomatopoeic words will pop up as you damage foes via headshots and so on, further adding to that pulpy feeling. There’s a relatively diverse set of weapons in your arsenal such as the expected shotgun, rifle, pistol, knife and rocket launcher. However, how that arsenal’s appearance may alter is via purchasing different forms of each weapon; turning a pump action shotgun to a sawed-off one or a regular RPG into an otherworldly Mortar weapon that fires off explosive alien matter.
“…Mindless scrawlings on walls, secrets hidden around every corner… there’s plenty of nice tidbits to provide a striking and memorable insight to the world.”
As alluded to earlier, this arsenal tweaking and the passive skills one can acquire is so much smoother and tidier than the daunting, overpopulated skill tree found in the original. In Forgive Me Father 2, you can only equip three of the Madness powerups at a time. These leave you little busywork and needless speccing to get to the good stuff: mowing down some undead. In a world where modern AAA shooters are often all about squeezing every last juice out of their adventure, keeping you extra busy with plenty of progression mechanics, it’s refreshing to find a smaller title in the space that’s more minimalist and focused, cutting the fat.
The ten levels on offer thus far take you through cool setpieces, including dangerous jaunts through trenches with undead in your close proximity and artillery firing upon you from angles or a complex prison, darting in and out of cells as you explore the horrors within. This will take players anywhere between only two and a half to three hours to complete, which may be worth a consideration if you’re after an Early Access experience that’s good bang for your buck.
All of these missions are fun to blast through, doing the traditional DOOM style loop of working towards earning each different coloured key for a locked door to later progress towards an endpoint. Though there is a ceiling to its quality so far. Every so often the game will fall silent, decidedly out of music to play for you and ruining the immersion and good shooty vibes you’d otherwise expect. Combine this with the lack of voice acting so far and there are periods where the game feels jarringly quiet. Thankfully, this fix along with many other quality features is still likely to come as the game progresses through its Early Access period.
Forgive Me Father 2 is out now in Early Access via Steam. Check it out here.