Developer Shotgun with Glitters describe The Padre as “a corrupted fairytale set in the 1910’s”. While a smattering of literary horror influences can be dredged up from The Padre‘s darkest corners, my time spent with the Alpha demo was less a ghost story, more a bloodily inked love letter to gaming’s past. While titles like Alone in the Dark and Resident Evil fought against their limitations, The Padre embraces its blocky sprites and painterly fixed-angle backgrounds. The Padre‘s distinctive voxel style grabs the attention like a crowbar to the cranium. It’s got one of those too, affectionately called ‘Gordon’ – just one of a slew of classic PC gaming references.
Kickstarter projects by legendary companies like Double Fine and Obsidian have resurrected genres long thought buried. If you’ve been wearing black in mourning for the tense exploration of survival horror granddaddy Alone in the Dark, The Padre might just be the séance you’ve been waiting for.
It’s a word that gets throw around a lot these days, but there really is something immediately iconic about the titular Padre. While a god-fearing demon hunter with a dark past initially sounds like the stuff of bargain bin B-movies, the Padre’s distinctive look and grim sarcasm make it a real joy to guide him to whatever horrors lurk in the next room. He spouts bad-ass combat-preacher puns like a reformed Duke Nukem, and packs a whole bandoleer of sardonic quips for every environment. If only he was as clever as his one liners, he might have realized it’s probably a bad idea to seek shelter in the very first creepy mansion you encounter. Still, every horrific nightmare has to start somewhere. Shotgun with Glitters seem well versed in the survival horror cliche guidebook, and use it to great effect. The Padre feels like a loving homage to DOS-era terror.
Gun of a Preacher Man
This isn’t always a positive, though. Those of us old enough to remember how the dial-up internet tone was more terrifying than the screech of any tentacled monster can attest to the occasional frustration of Monkey Island style pixel hunt puzzles. A few I encountered in the demo strayed into the obscure and nonsensical – not especially difficult, but based on trial and error rather than internal logic. This could just be my shooter-addled brain, however. Shotgun with Glitters are offering the Alpha Demo free on their Kickstarter page and despite few minor flaws, what’s on offer so far is a wickedly good example of old school survival horror.