Forgive Me Father PS4 review H.P. Lovecraft Lovecraftian FPS PS4 Review

Forgive Me Father Review (PS4) – A Deliciously Crunchy, Inventive Lovecraftian FPS That’s A Little Rough Around The Edges

forgive me father ps4 review

Given the proliferation of H.P. Lovecraft and his Eldritch horrors, it’s a little surprising that we haven’t seen more first-person shooter efforts tackle this most ghastly of settings. Forgive Me Father from developer Byte Barrel aims to address that, seeking to deliver a retro FPS that at once recalls the nightmarish terrors that stalk the pages of Lovecraft’s works, along with a satisfying genre offering that those with itchy trigger fingers will enjoy. Fans of both then will be delighted to know that Forgive Me Father fulfils its bargain on both counts, delivering a resolutely crunchy and suitably horrifying shooter that proves there’s still plenty of mileage to be had in reaping the source material of H.P. Lovecraft in order to realise more genuinely enjoyable genre entries such as this.

Forgive Me Father PS4 Review

A Deliciously Crunchy, Inventive Lovecraftian FPS That’s A Little Rough Around The Edges

What perhaps I didn’t expect when I sat down with Forgive Me Father is just how much it works outside the margins of what would normally be considered in a retro FPS such as this. This is felt from the very beginning where rather than just thrusting the player into an orgy of firearms-powered bloodletting, a choice is presented of two different characters – a journalist and a priest with each possessing different strengths and weaknesses over the other. That said, though the choice is welcome, there isn’t too much material difference between the two.

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It’s also here that Forgive Me Father’s distinctly rough around the edges charm, as it were, is also felt, since the two characters have great character names like ‘priest’ and ‘journalist’ and that’s pretty much it. This lack of polish also spills over into the voice acting too which is, for the most part, pretty terrible with stunted, lifeless delivery, not to mention the timing of the lines that are delivered. For example, the priest will say things like “I start to miss the good old days of my youth” when he levels up for no reason and though it really doesn’t make a whole lot of sense at all, it comes across as more amusing than annoying, since such waffling fades into the background while you’re laying waste to the hordes of Eldritch horrors that Forgive Me Father puts in front of you.

There is actually a story of sorts that sits at the heart of Forgive Me Father’s ballad of Lovecraftian slaughter which centres around a missing sibling in 1920s North America and, well, the end of the reality as we know it, but it’s forgettable stuff that merely acts as thin dressing for the ultra violent delights that Forgive Me Father otherwise oozes from every digital pore.

There’s actually a relatively decent attempt at establishing lore in the game, with a variety of objects being present in the environment which you can interact with such as newspaper cuttings, photographs, points of interest and more. The problem however, is that not only is the English translation a little off (being Polish, English is understandably not a first language for developers Byte Barrel), but all such objects of lore in the environment are rather brazenly labelled as ‘story’, rather than having some more subtle cues in the UI to make players interact with them. Certainly, it’s nothing a good patch wouldn’t be able to resolve and it doesn’t detract from what Forgive Me Father does best overall.

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High-powered, FPS ultraviolence – that’s what Forgive Me Father does best and it translates extremely well as a super satisfying shooter experience. Naturally as one might expect, Forgive Me Father provides players with all manner of different weapons with which to unleash on the Lovecraftian horde. From pistols and shotguns, through to semi-automatic sub-machine guns and full-auto tommy guns, Forgive Me Father certainly provides the sort of arsenal one might expect, but it also goes a step further as well, providing a players with a progression system which provides the opportunity to upgrade to each of those weapons every time you level up.

Though the actual weapon upgrades seem a little pedestrian at first – providing such buffs as increased damage, increased fire rate and so on – it soon becomes apparent that the more you upgrade your weapons, the more ‘corrupted’ each becomes on account of the influence of the Old Gods. As such, what you actually end up with are horribly mutated shotguns, handguns and more which not only look suitably gnarly but also dish out huge amounts of destructive firepower and sometimes entirely change the operation of that weapon to boot. As it turns out, having a progression model like this in a title like Forgive Me Father works well enough. Sure, not every upgrade tree feels essential (upgrading your lantern for example, isn’t something I would be eager to max out), but overall it does provide additional incentive to keep playing and kill as much as possible; both of which are things you really want from any FPS worth its salt.

Further rounding out the arsenal at your disposal are a range of additional items that can be leveraged too, such as a holy cross that can partially regenerate your health and other arcane trinkets that can stun enemies and so on. Of course this being a title that is absolutely leaning into the writings of H.P. Lovecraft, madness plays a sizable role in the proceedings, with madness being gained by killing enemies and drinking alcohol (what else?), resulting in you being able to dish out more damage, while taking less of it return. The drawback to having high madness however, is that the visuals sometimes become slightly warped and discoloured, but other than that, the negative afflictions of madness aren’t really a thing in Forgive Me Father – which feels like an odd omission given how debilitating the concept of madness is in Lovecraft’s writings.

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Arguably, what makes the combat in Forgive Me Father work so well however, is the absolute smorgasbord of different foes that you’ll come across. From good ol’ fashioned zombies, through to possessed cultists, murderous asylum patients and cosmic terrors from the depths of Eldritch horror, Forgive Me Father really does have a grand old murder’s row of foes for players to blow apart. Speaking of which, the gore in Forgive Me Father is fiendishly over the top with exaggerated blood splashes and splatters all around the area of a nearby kill – not to mention the ejection of various viscera, innards and body parts to boot every time you put down an enemy.

Furthermore, there are some additional neat and functional touches in play here too. For example, you can shoot the backpack of a foe that sprays toxic waste and just watch them corrode in their own acid, stripping them of their ability to attack you at range. In another example you can blast the legs out from underneath some enemies, forcing them to crawl toward you as they slowly bleed out. If I have one complaint about the various hellish enemies you battle in Forgive Me Father, it would be that though some of the more supposedly more intelligent, non-zombie enemies show some battle smarts such as using occasionally using cover and engaging at range when given the option, I’ve also witnessed those same foes finding themselves getting unceremoniously stuck on the scenery, making them a disappointingly easy kill in the process.

In terms of level design, Forgive Me Father acquits itself commendably well by following the example of other retro shooters such as DOOM, Quake and Duke Nukem 3D, by leveraging a colour key system where keys of the correct hue must be collected in order to unlock doors of a corresponding colour. It’s not revolutionary stuff, but it does provide Forgive Me Father with an element of distinctly non-linear design by allowing players to tackle each area with a relative level of autonomy.

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Where Forgive Me Father gets really inventive though, is in how it makes keen use of survival horror elements to create some unexpected schisms in what otherwise might seem like traditional level design. In one scenario I found myself chased by a massive wall of molten lava, effectively turning Forgive Me Father into a fast-paced, first-person platform game where I was frantically hopping from one ledge to the next in search of safety (and happily, Forgive Me Father’s platforming mechanics were more than up to the task). In another, I was creeping around an old asylum with my trusty lantern spookily illuminating the dark corners of the building where living folk dare not to tread, and yet, I still found myself almost jumping out of my chair when a possessed asylum patient almost literally exploded into a screeching, arachnid-like Eldritch horror in front of me. It’s legitimately surprising stuff which provides a neat addition to the core face-blasting action.

From an artistic perspective, Forgive Me Father is adept also, thanks in no small part to some gorgeous graphic novel visual stylings that not only result in some supremely detailed sprite work, but which also have neat flourishes like sound effects being represented in text and so on. Despite having sprite based assets, there is also a surprising amount of interactivity too, with glasses that can be smashed, boxes that can be torn open and so on. The main issue with the sprite based enemies and items of Forgive Me Father’s world though, is that at some angles it can all start to look a bit like a bunch of cardboard cut-outs, thanks in no small part to the fact that the game world is constructed (and lit), in a full three dimensional space. Finally, the metal soundtrack which thunders into your eardrums every time a battle kicks off is brilliantly judged, with the heavy drops matching up with the on-screen action perfectly.

Much like the Eldritch horrors that are chronicled in the works of H.P. Lovecraft, Forgive Me Father has seemingly manifested from nowhere. An inventive and hyper violent shooter laced with survival horror and ARPG style progression elements, Forgive Me Father might be less refined than I would like, but all the same I cannot deny just how well the central concept of blowing Lovecraftian horrors apart has been wrought here.

Forgive Me Father releases for PS4 on September 28th, 2023.

Review code kindly provided by PR.



The Final Word

Much like the Eldritch horrors that are chronicled in the works of H.P. Lovecraft, Forgive Me Father has seemingly manifested from nowhere. An inventive and hyper violent shooter laced with survival horror and ARPG style progression elements, Forgive Me Father might be less refined than I would like, but all the same I cannot deny just how well the central concept of blowing Lovecraftian horrors apart has been wrought here.