FAITH: The Unholy Trinity from Airdorf Games is an 8-bit inspired survival horror set during the “Satanic Panic” era of the 80s. Only instead of helicopter moms panicking that their children’s weekly D&D sessions would lead to routine devil worshiping, you’ll be following John Ward, a priest haunted by his past failings and a unsuccessful exorcism.
Seeking absolution, John continues his investigation into the occult, as well as rumors that the victim of his first exorcism may only have been the start of an impending doom - the summoning of the demon Malphas and the arrival of the Profane Sabbath. Will John’s faith sustain him, or will temptation spell his end?
I probably said it before, but I have a fascination with 2D horror. When you strip away the immersion that 3D environments lend the genre, it becomes significantly more important for designers to nail the tone of their game. Whether that’s through storytelling, character development, subject matter, or in a lot of the cases it’s graphical style. However, when you remove even more fidelity and challenge yourself to make an impactful horror game that leaves players unnerved but also compelled to keep playing, only using a visual style that you might find on something like the Atari 8-bit computers - then you’ve piqued my interest!
Well, that’s exactly what Airdorf attempted with FAITH , and one look at the game in action had me curious to find out how they were going to pull it off. I mean, it’s tough enough to make a scary 2D game when you aren’t limiting the amount of graphical details you can add to your environments, let alone barely having 2 pixels to rub together. But, I had faith (pun intended) that regardless of the outcome, it was going to be a unique and memorable experience.
Aesthetically, FAITH more than achieves the vibe it was going for. From the beeps and boops of its loading screen, to the deceptively simple sprites, and even the scratchy and barely comprehensible digitized voice overs, it feels like you just booted up your favorite DOS game from the late 80s. This even extends into its relatively simple gameplay loop, which will have you wandering, almost aimlessly, though each of its chapters collecting notes to uncover the mysteries of the game’s narrative, and fending off demons and other ne’er do wells with your crucifix. All the while hoping you don’t get possessed, killed, or cursed, which is pretty much an inevitability.
If you’re looking at it from the outside, it seems pretty dang simplistic, and in a lot of ways that’s true, but, therein lies the beauty. Despite its sparse environments with solid black backgrounds, its sluggish movement, and its very limited in-game animations, the sum of its parts make it a truly inspiring experience. An experience that’s made that much more immersive due to the fantastic and intense soundtrack, and the excellent rotoscoped cutscenes that really bring out the horror of the situations you’ll be faced with. Plus, those clunky voice overs I mentioned earlier, they’re perfect for keeping you uncomfortable and primed for a jump scare.
What I liked most about playing FAITH however, was that as you progressed through the chapters it not only uncovered more and more of the story, but it also introduced more ways for you to interact with the game. In some ways it took away from its simple charms, but ultimately made it that much more engaging. For example, the inclusion of more complex boss fights, or clever puzzles that involved more than just holding your cross up to an object until a note popped out. Plus, I’m always a fan of games that give you the opportunity to unlock multiple endings, and with 10+ endings spread across three chapters and a bonus prologue chapter, you got yourself a whole lot of game rolled into a small package. The best part is, the chapters can be played separately or all together in a marathon mode, so whether you have a little time or a lot, it has you covered. Also, each run-through of those chapters can be completed relatively quickly, at least on subsequent runs, so getting those alternate endings really isn’t too much of a chore.
Even though I was intrigued by its aesthetic choices, I wasn’t quite sure if the game itself would hold up once I got my hands on it. Luckily that wasn’t the case, because what I ended up playing far exceeded my expectations. Both atmospherically and narratively. Sure the gameplay may lack the nuance that your typical big budget horror game may have, but it more than makes up for that in the subtle ways that it plays with your uneasiness, and keeps the chills running down your spine.
After sinking a good 12 hours into FAITH trying to unlock each of its endings, and unraveling all of the plot threads left for our forlorn priest, I can confidently say that if you’re looking for a horror game that breaks the mold, you won’t have to look any further. Not only did it surprise me, but it also left me satisfied, not to mention slightly unnerved, and it’ll definitely be a game that will stick with me.
FAITH is an intense and suspenseful horror adventure all wrapped up into an 8-bit aesthetic. Everything from the sound design, to the rotoscoped cut-scenes, to its gripping story keep you on the edge of your seat, and make you want to come back for more. Two blessed thumbs UP from us!!
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It's very hard to make a 2D game beautiful. Because people won't praise your graphics and the impressive items in the game's world. The things that will be praised are the gameplay and the story, and they have to be great. Honestly I don't like horror games and I think this is the 10th time I'm writing this haha. But I have to admit that it still looks good and I trust your taste in games.
It, and horror games in general, are definitely not for everyone, but it's great when you find one that stands out like FAITH!
What's most impressive is how much the developer got out of so little. Especially from a graphical standpoint. Plus, the fact that this was created, for the most part, by one person is that much more incredible!