If you ever spent time watching the great Monty Python comedy shows from the ‘70s and ‘80s you will no doubt be hugely familiar with dead parrot sketches and the ministry of funny walks. But one thing that people don’t talk about so much were the amazing animations of filmmaker Terry Gilliam that opened the show and the unique links between the sketches. These were the glue that held it all together. Those animations that were brought to life are quite obviously the major influence on the work of The Procession to Calvary. In fact, the whole game is an homage to Gilliam and Python, yet still manages to stay unique and provide a lot of fun. Let’s go over to the wild side.
The Procession to Calvary is a sequel to developer Joe Richardson’s previous entry on PC – Four Last Things – and by using similar kinds of techniques he is yet again found animating Renaissance paintings to create the backdrops, characters, and action. You should be aware though that this is a fictional world and time, even considering the use of established paintings as the source material.
It focuses on a war between the North and the South with the North coming out on top. Our hero has been a key instrument to winning the war, mostly thanks to their constant love for murdering and killing. So when she is told she has to stop she is miffed. It is here where she persuades the boss that she needs to go off and kill the bad Heavenly Peter. So the quest begins…
The writing, humour, and dialogue are very much in the line of Python and Gilliam, feeling very British throughout. It’s funny with some extremely clever meta moments where we see God controlling the action as a literal puppetmaster. There’s even a funny bit about Kickstarter donators having to be put in the game, so they placed them in a special room. I loved the humour that The Procession to Calvary has provided, and if you’re of the same ilk you will probably be fully on board with what has created. On the flipside, others will know straight away if it’s going to be their thing or not.
The gameplay itself is much more straightforward than the setup and premise, and will really not be that tricky for the average gamer. It’s a basic point-and-click adventure in terms of gameplay, but quite complex in terms of the puzzle-solving. You move the character around the screen by pointing where you want them to go, interacting with objects, collecting items for your inventory and combining items, before giving them to other characters. It’s all of the usual point and click standard. There is a lot of dialogue to be had with the characters too, and with dialogue tree options to make the most of, it is vital to listen to everything in order to take in the clues on offer.
In terms of the puzzle elements, The Procession to Calvary can at times confuse and you might be stuck scratching your head more than you care to, mostly as the world is a mad as a bunch of snakes in a hat. There is one puzzle involving a skunk, some bones, and a bunch of relatives plundering a dead aunt that had my brain working overtime. Luckily Richardson has provided an option for you to easily take in everything that is interactable and because of this it’s tricky to miss anything. It’s also nice that there are some distractions thrown in along the way, especially in terms of different sections where you have to enter a talent contest and sing a song with the right Latin words in time. In all though this is a game that point and click fans will have a ball with. Again though, others might find it too oblique at times.
But what is the highlight of the game is the brilliantly animated visuals. Just admiring how someone has even put all this together, is an achievement all on its own. It’s so good that I’m not really sure where to start. The colours and use of the artwork are superb, from the terrible torture scenes on a beautiful landscape, to the art gallery full of paintings within paintings. It all runs very smoothly indeed too, without any glitches or slowdown. On a purely visual side, The Procession to Calvary is gory, yet funny, and is capable of providing a world I could have happily spent more time in than the couple of hours the running time allows.
The soundtrack is equally clever, utilising public domain-based classical pieces. That said, there is a whole variety of them in each location you visit. If you love classical music then you’re going to get a lot out of it. The effects are great too, from sword effects to crowd noise and screams from the battles.
If you’re a fan of Monty Python and the type of animation and humour that has come from it, you are going to love The Procession to Calvary. It’s a game which is great fun with a bonkers mad story, weird multiple endings, and some brilliant use of art and animation. The point and click puzzle element doesn’t do anything new and there will be times where it might all become a bit confusing, but overall The Procession to Calvary is a brilliant romp through someone’s crazy mind and immense talent.
Experience the wacky abstraction of The Procession to Calvary on Xbox Series X|S and Xbox One