[toggles behavior=”accordion”] [toggle title=”Minimum Specs”]OS: Windows 7 Processor: 2 GHz Memory: 4 GB RAM Graphics: 1 GB VRAM DirectX: Version 9.0c[/toggle] [toggle title=”Review Specs”]OS : Windows 10 Processor : 1.8 GHz Memory : 4 GB RAM Graphics : 2 GB VRAM DirectX : Version 11[/toggle] [/toggles]
“It wasn’t an ordinary mission. And it wasn’t an ordinary mansion. But he wasn’t an ordinary priest either…” Now read this aloud in the voice of Donald Leroy LaFontaine, the guy behind every damn Hollywood movie trailer’s narration.
Sounds cheesy, right? As if you’re introducing a stoic badass from the ’90s in torn tank-tops and shades who spews out corny one-liners while jamming to American retro wave. Well, here’s to stay, this time clerical cassocks have replaced tank-tops and horror wave has replaced retro wave because the aforementioned lines are from the trailer of the point ‘n’ click spooky adventure – The Padre.
Story and Narrative
You play as the titular character starring in and as The Padre, who’s out to search for his old mentor gone AWOL, Cardinal Benedictus, who let’s say, is not exactly in the Padre’s good books judging by the amount of cusses and insults he bombards into empty air wherever the thought of him crosses his mind. But our hero must take up the task because ‘the Lord wills it’ and thus ventures into the dark corridors of a haunted mansion that we have seen countless times in games like Resident Evil, Amnesia, and Alone in the Dark, and comes across such tales of agony that would shake any ghostbuster to his core. The mansion is littered with bits and scraps of the past – notes and diary entries recounting creepy stories of torture, tragedy and blatant occultism – with sufficient amount of ghouls, zombies and supernatural entities that would make even the Redfields question their sanity. But none of them are enough to faze the Padre because according to the trailer he’s there to ‘kick ass and chew bubble-gum’.
Aaaaaand, that’s the narrative! Yeah-yeah I admit, it’s a bit rough around the edges and needs some polishing but this is true only if you keep treating The Padre as some kind of survival-horror game, which… well… it isn’t, because this is basically a homage to the 90’s horror-action flicks with our smart-ass hero dropping a decent amount of quips even while staring at the face of death, and with enough videogame references that would make Ready Player One look like a nursery rhyme. The Padre doesn’t shy away from embracing the tried-and-tested formula of haunted house trappings, serving a cliched storyline on a platter of intricately detailed, 3D voxel aesthetic viewed through the glowing eyes of the gruffest-voiced priest ever who wields a gun and crowbar for self-defense. Even the devs admit that they have created a character who takes nothing seriously as evident by the arsenal of punchlines he uses to react to any situation whatsoever – Groovy, Son of a Motherless Goat – just to name a few. He now has to use his ‘specific set of skills’ to stave off demons, ghosts and fiends of the netherworld in his quest for searching for his damned mentor while solving annoyingly complex puzzles along the way.
Gameplay and Mechanics
It’s basically a point ‘n’ click adventure with hotkeys assigned for switching between fixed camera angles, accessing the inventory and equipping weapons. But beyond that, it’s a puzzler that gives some serious Resident Evil vibes, resulting in scenarios where you realize that you cannot solve a particular puzzle without the acquisition of the right tools which you accidentally stumble upon later at a separate location. This goes without saying that there will be lots of backtracking and I mean a lot, the rewards of which include the previously locked areas becoming accessible giving you access to more notes and items.
Though it may initially appear that the procedure in which you’re advancing is non-linear (as you may choose not to talk to a certain NPC and receive a gun and instead carry forward with your trusty crowbar to solve your woes), The Padre is fairly linear if you look closely because without certain items you won’t be able to unlock doors that are central to the storyline. The devs have disguised this so cleverly under the veil of exploration that you won’t notice just how scripted your every action is as you run back and forth from pillar to post (literally) to push further in your objective until you know the nooks and crannies of every room of the mansion you enter.
The Padre doesn’t provide you with any map or blueprint to find your way around but what it does provide you with is a cynical poltergeist Bible that our hero carries around in his cassock. Now at times, the possessed Bible will drop hints regarding solving a particular puzzle (because they are effing frustrating and you won’t find solutions even on the Discord channel), and other times it will behave like a colossal jerk mocking you in every way possible. I just wish we could engage in an actual banter with it but it’s a highly scripted, untalkable NPC.
Speaking of the puzzles, not all are central to the narrative, some are there just to kill time and unlock additional notes and Steam Achievements. But hey, Something is better than nothing, right?
There’s also a… ahem… a Devil Trigger mode (it isn’t actually called so though the effect is quite similar) that the Padre awakens after drinking Holy Water retrieved from a certain well which results in a bloody red eye and voxel tentacles piercing out from his back. In this ‘tainted’ form, the Padre’s endurance is increased enabling him to sustain more damage from the undead and psychic spirits though prolonged damage results in death following which he wakes up in limbo.
Now the limbo is your temporary purgatory offering you four doors to travel to any two previously visited areas including the room where you died. You’ll see a screenshot of the area you’re about to enter once you click the door that leads to it. This might be a good way to rethink your strategy before tackling that particular enemy or that particular time-bound puzzle failing which results in instant death. But be warned, each time you die and are spun up inside the limbo, a certain bottle gets partly filled with Angel Tears accompanied by Angel’s sobbing. Little by little the bottle fills up as long as you keep dying and once it’s completely filled… permanent death!
You’ve to start the game from the beginning. (Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice anyone?)
But all isn’t so shiny and chrome in The Padre. You see, just like the games of the late ’90s, The Padre offers only fixed camera angles (guess the homage went too far), resulting in frustrating scenarios where you’re unable to find an item because the camera is placed in such an inconvenient perspective. This plus the fact that you have to click on the enemy to attack worsens what already is. The enemies, mostly zombies, slumber through the entire width of the narrow corridors forcing you to move your mouse quickly across the room while attacking and blocking at the same time, and if there is an accidental misclick i.e. you click anywhere on the screen but the enemy, the Padre calmly walks to the location even when the ghost is at his throat. Worst case scenario? Death by incessant mauling before you could turn around to block because our hero moves as if he’s still reeling from the bong he had the previous night. And don’t make the mistake of surfing through the camera perspectives whilst in combat as there’s a high probability that your character dies offscreen before you could wrestle with that mouse button.
Graphics, Performance, and Sound
The game ran like butter even on a 2GB Nvidia 710m GPU with 4GB RAM though the maximum FPS was around 30. There’s no fps lock and it obviously goes 60 on higher-end hardware because the minimum system requirements are just 4 GB RAM and 1 GB VRAM. So, don’t expect a single graphical lag. Besides that, I couldn’t find any bug no matter how hard I looked; it’s just so fleshed out in terms of performance that you won’t mind the childish AI. Adding the cherry to it is the retro stylized 3D pixel art that is so detailed in terms of aesthetics that you’ll actually spend time admiring the rooms. The lighting also goes a long way in building the atmosphere and unlike those countless AAA horror titles that coat half of their environments in unrealistic blackness, such isn’t in the case of The Padre. Besides that, there’s the cliched yet good playlist of eerie background scores that adds an extra layer to the horror elements.
Surviving the Early Access purgatory, The Padre has been baptized at 529 INR on Steam. It’s a game of brains and brawns with tons of easter eggs and references to myriad videogames. It’s not actually a horror game because the dark and striking atmosphere is often purged by the wicked humor of the ever-witty Padre and that too in his impossibly gruff tone that makes it all the more hilarious. If you want to embark on a ghoulish journey of battling demons and solving puzzles while cracking ill-timed jokes, then this is the game you need to play as one of the ten commandments.