You don’t get many chances in life to play as a priest battling some strange demonic evil. I’ve played out my gaming life as a monk before, and even a small cute religious bear, but never a priest. In my opinion though, they have the best outfits – what with the long black coat, a cool hat, and a tiny hint of white in the collar. So with The Padre, my dreams have come true as I’m off to battle the darker world of spirits, demons, and things that go bump in the night. But will I live up to my godly duties and banish the evil back to whence it came from, or will it be more like an episode of Father Ted? Well, The Padre is a bit of both.
The Padre runs as a 3rd person action adventure horror game that comes with a deep retro feel. It reminds from the off of those first Alone In The Dark games that were a big hit on PC back in the 1990s. You play as the padre in question, initially starting things off in your priest-y bedroom awaiting instructions. Soon you find out that a cardinal has gone missing in a spooky mansion and it’s up to you to not just get there, but to also solve the mystery within. And when you enter the mansion you will be faced with a number of puzzles, battles and menu management problems to solve, all in order to find out the shocking truth.
The story – and then what you ultimately accomplish – delivers a great mixture of some very dry humor and some genuinely gasping horror moments. Yes, I’m looking at you ‘bath of blood’.
You move around the house very much in the vein of an original Resident Evil experience, exploring rooms and solving the puzzles that are found in each. For example, you might stumble upon a tearful zombie who is cradling some clothing that has nothing in it. You must then ask yourself whether or not you have found something similar on your journey; something that could make the sad zombie happy?
There are also some basic combat elements to take in too, which works fine but are a little slow and simple. It’s a lot of fun though and if you’re as old as me it allows a chance to rekindle the love of playing these types of games back when my reactions weren’t shot and I could see without the help of strong spectacles. But then there are the controls…
The control system utilised in The Padre is extremely hard to get used to, especially if you haven’t played many of these type of games from back in the day. It’s an awkward system, clumsy and old fashioned, which I know is the point somewhat in the retro design, but it ain’t great. In tight situations that require speed of thought and movement, it really becomes a hindrance and is never very user-friendly.
And then you can add the fact that when you die, the threat of permadeath is always on the horizon. I’m not a big fan of permadeath – mainly because I spent a long time in the ‘80s playing games for hours, only to have to restart the whole thing again after losing a life. They weren’t fun times. In The Padre you get a vial that fills up with angel tears every time you die. The more it fills up the bigger the threat of permadeath, where all your progress is lost and the journey gets wiped, leaving you to have to start again. For that reason alone, you’re either going to love The Padre, or you’re going to hate it. I don’t believe there is any form of middle ground.
The game looks like a mixture of Minecraft and Resident Evil; blocky edgy characters and square rooms. It has a look and design that once again has that marmite feel – one of love and hate. I particularly like the visual feel though: the presentation, lighting, and design are all very nicely done. Little visual touches and comedy nods to other genres and games are an enjoyable touch throughout. The camera angle takes a bit of getting used to though, and there are options to change this, but at times it is extremely tricky to see certain items in a room.
The soundtrack is great mind, with an over the top dramatic feel that permeates throughout. The effects are great and once again feel old school. The main character has a deep gravelly, multi-accented voice that I enjoyed listening to, almost as much as the actor would have delivering the lines.
So, The Padre on Xbox One? Is it any good? Well, I loved this game for the first hour, relishing every puzzle, the humour, and the visual throwbacks. But then the interest starts to wane, the controls become cumbersome, the puzzles seem impossible and the camera hugely annoying. Throw in that ever increasing threat of permadeath and it sees the initial sheen wiped from The Padre. Yes, there are elements that are great, but there are also moments that massively overstay their welcome. However, if you want to take a chance and don those priestly robes, then you too can become The Padre.