FAITH Review -- A Deceivingly Simple Horror Game
When I first started playing FAITH, I couldn’t understand what it was that made the game so unsettling. The somber music and garbled text-to-speech voices were definitely part of it, but those, of course, are things I'd seen before in other horror games. So what was it that kept my eyes on the screen, unable to look away?
Well, a good many things.
In FAITH, you play as a priest who returns to the house where, a year earlier, an exorcism went terribly wrong. It’s up to you to restore the woods surrounding the house to its peaceful state -- and finish what you started. It's an unsettling experience that stays under your skin for hours after you've finished.
At its core, FAITH is a pixel-art horror game produced by Airdorf Games, and it's terrifying despite its appearance. In a time where most horror games aim for realistic graphics that surprise you with jump-scares, FAITH's Atari-era inspired gameplay is a breath of fresh air.
Its limited gameplay mechanics add a feeling of helplessness to everything you do, something that’s difficult to recreate in modern horror games. There's no sprinting or running in this game, and there's no way to hide from the horrors chasing you. With a cross as your only weapon, you must navigate the map at a snail's pace, looking for clues to aid you in piecing the story together.
While wandering the woods on my hero's errand, I was continuously nervous, on the lookout for my dastardly pursuer, one that could appear at any moment, from any direction. And to ramp things up, the feeling got worse when I'd near the edge of the screen (just when I thought I'd made it out alive) because that's when the fiend would be at its worst.
Things were made more stressful by the game's simple pixel style, which often resulted in an interesting -- and possibly frustrating? -- difficulty curve. I found myself walking up to anything that caught my eye and holding my cross up to it, hoping it would have some kind of effect, all with mixed results. Luckily, once you actually enter the house, items of note are highlighted in a different color, making them easy to distinguish from uninteresting scenery.
The developer breaks up the monotony with striking and disturbing rotoscoped cutscenes, which, after playing in a bright pixel landscape for an hour, are extremely jarring. This realism is different from the photorealism used in AAA titles nowadays: what makes it so striking is the contrast between it and the rest of the game's style, not the actual quality of the graphics themselves.
Overall, the entire FAITH experience is only two hours long, but it leaves a lasting impression. There are five possible endings, each spinning a new light on the situation at hand. Some make you question the main character's motivations and choices, some leave you with a bad taste in your mouth, but only one is the true ending. Each gives you more insight into the story, and the developer leaves it up to the player to decide for themselves what the truth is.
As someone who considers horror games to not really be their cup of tea, FAITH left me pleasantly surprised. If you’re looking for something to scratch that horror itch this Halloween season, FAITH is a must. Alfred Hitchcock once said, "There is no terror in the bang, only in the anticipation of it," a concept FAITH absolutely nails. Its genuinely creepy atmosphere and engaging plot will leave you wanting more.
You can purchase FAITH here!