Wednesday, April 17

Review: The Padre [Nintendo Switch eShop]


Daring to be different is one of my favorite qualities in indie titles, but it is also without a doubt pretty risky. When you combine genres or do things in new and unexpected ways you can gain an audience but it’s also possible to lose one. The Padre is a title that somewhat defies easy description, mixing elements of older horror series like Alone in the Dark (with maybe a dash of Resident Evil) with some adventure-esque puzzle solving. The result is absolutely different, but the mix of elements has also taken on a combination of downsides from each area as well so it won’t be an adventure for everyone.


You’ll play as the title character, who is at once solemn and a bit silly, weary but also witty. His voice overs, done in a very distinctive gravelly voice, will likely be a love/hate proposition for people. Though his comments added to the fun and layered on some levity I’ll admit the voice itself could be a bit distracting with how forced it seemed, but I could see some people considering it a real plus depending on tastes. Visually the voxel-based graphics are retro but that’s not an excuse for them lacking in effort, each room has a crafted feel to it so it does do a solid job of feeling old and new at once.


Gameplay heavily straddles between a classic point-and-click adventure with you needing to explore and check everything you get a prompt for, and some action when a variety of dark creatures decide to come at you. You’ll have a few different weapons at your disposal, but your ammo isn’t unlimited, so you’ll need to size up what you think you can handle with a melee weapon versus when you’ll need to go with guns blazing. Careful attention will need to be paid to notes you’ll find as they won’t just help relay the story, it’s also not unusual for them to include vital information you’ll need to progress and get through some of the game’s puzzles as well, or at least to find some of its secrets and easter eggs that are hidden about.


While fans of the classic horror games that served as an inspiration may feel right at home with the title, some of the baggage of them has also come along for the ride, whether on purpose or not to be consistent with them I’m not entirely sure. When things get intense combat can be tricky and even a bit janky, your ability to aim and be accurate aren’t going to be great. In particular situations where you have multiple enemies attacking you in the somewhat 3D isometric space left me struggling to properly get a bead on them and that tended to be a fatal problem. Granted, you have a somewhat generous number of lives to burn through before it’s true game over and you’ll need to start again but feeling like your survival isn’t entirely in your control can be aggravating… but also consistent with most of the classics that The Padre was inspired by. The other issue is that by taking on the classic adventure style and its puzzles the game also falls into the trap of sometimes being hard to follow or understand when you find yourself stuck, and without any sort of hint system in the game to help you’ll likely be left hoping for online guidance to progress.


All said The Padre is refreshingly different but I’ll readily admit it has its issues. For people who have a great deal of nostalgia for the older games that inspired this one the in-jokes, tone, and feel of it all may be a home run. I’d say the less you know about or are attached to those titles though the more likely you’ll be left feeling a bit let down with gameplay and controls that work but aren’t terribly accurate or responsive either. Credit to the developers for daring to be different, The Padre is all in on its concept and execution, but I think this will be an “eye of the beholder” sort of experience and polarizing in terms of opinions from person to person.

Score: 6.5

Pros:
  • It nails the atmosphere and “feel” of classic horror games with plenty of grim and surprisingly detailed rooms considering the voxel art style
  • When everything clicks it can be refreshingly different and fun
  • Plenty of in-jokes and nods to the likes of Alone in the Dark, Resident Evil, and others from the genre

Cons:
  • Mechanically combat is tricky, inconsistent, and can be frustrating at times
  • With the point-and-click adventure style puzzles if you find yourself stuck without any in-game help you’ll likely find yourself hitting walkthroughs in some cases to progress
  • I’d consider the main character’s voice to be a love/hate proposition