It’s that spooky time of year again, so I was tickled when a little horror puzzle game demo showed up for preview. My Father Lied is a point-and-click horror adventure loosely based on the works of H.P. Lovecraft.
A Little Lovecraft
Like most Lovecraftian games, this one is text-heavy. A lot of reading is involved in getting to the meat of the story; I don’t mind reading a lot of lore if it is presented in easy-to-read fonts and not massively long. I think there was a good balance of reading and puzzle-solving in My Father Lied. Just enough to let us know something creepy was going on without boring us with the details.
The genre is challenging for several reasons; it’s truly difficult to make a real Lovecraftian game and make it feel good. The whole purpose of cosmic horror is to make you realize how small and insignificant you are in the grand scheme of the world and how there is so much that is unknowable with either making the universe impossible to live in or without tainting your soul with the knowledge.
This whole feeling makes Lovecraftian video games so challenging to make. If you are to make a character helpless in the face of horrors beyond human comprehension, how can you make them playable? How can you give them the ability even to believe they could win?
Although My Father Lied was tagged as Lovecraftian on Steam, I didn’t really get that vibe from the demo much. It felt a little creepy, a little weird, a little spooky. I’m not sure if there is enough game here yet to judge if this will be a great Lovecraft game or not.
Feels like Myst
My Father Lied‘s demo feels a lot like Myst, Riven, and other similar titles from the 1990s and 2000s. It has the same style of graphics, the same way of moving, and the same types of puzzles. I found the puzzles interesting and thought-provoking, challenging but doable. I wouldn’t say that My Father Lied is making any puzzle game innovations, but the demo feels solid.
Moving around the world is also similar to Myst, which is a little unfortunate; we have moved past the need to click arrows to move into predetermined spaces. But it does mesh with the old-school aesthetic, so I found that mostly forgivable.
The Downsides of My Father Lied Demo
So far, My Father Lied is okay. There isn’t any of the jank I was expecting from an indie dev; it seems like this demo has been loved and tested. The demo has little of the story of why you are in this place or how you got there, but I assume there will be more of this in the full release.
The music in My Father Lied is awful. I found the menu music absolutely grating, and couldn’t click off of it fast enough. Unfortunately, it didn’t improve much when getting to the actual game. I do not suggest having headphones in for this or, if you do want headphones, having the volume way down before you start playing.
Thoughts and Feelings
Overall, I think there is a lot of potential here. The puzzles are interesting, but the visuals are a little bit old-school and very early 2000s, which is fine. The music is awful, but overall, there is a solid foundation for a lovingly-made game with many good ideas. I’m interested to see just how Lovecraftian and spooky this title ends up being.