Faith: The Unholy Trinity Review: Holy Hell
It sure is a great time to be a fan of games centered around murderous doomsday cults. Just weeks ago, 3D Realms and one-man indie studio Jassoz Games released Cultic, a spectacular spiritual successor to Monolith’s beloved 1997 horror FPS Blood, giving players the chance to reduce thousands of chanting madmen into twitching gristle. And it was good — damn good — with a haunting atmosphere and some genuine scares to keep players on their toes.
Now, it’s time once again to stop a shadowy sect from achieving its twisted goals with Faith: The Unholy Trilogy. However, while Cultic put an arsenal of brutal weaponry at players’ fingertips to help them dispatch demented devil worshippers, this lo-fi horror collection arms players with little more than a humble crucifix as they explore a variety of haunted locales, exorcising demonic entities and unraveling the schemes of a murderous cult, all in the name of the Lord.
With a lo-fi presentation that perfectly channels the early 8-bit computer era, Faith: The Unholy Trilogy may look like an unassuming foray into the world of horror gaming. But make no mistake: beneath the brutally pixelated visuals, and harsh modulated voice samples lies a genuinely creepy experience no fans of the genre should miss.
Sects And Violence
If you haven’t already guessed, Faith: The Unholy Trinity is a collection of indie developer Airdorf Games’ episodic horror trilogy, beginning with 2017’s Faith Chapter 1 and concluding with the just-released third episode. The games put players behind the collar of a young priest who, after an exorcism in a rural Connecticut home goes horribly wrong, returns to the dilapidated house for answers. The priest’s journey, which the Vatican certainly does not approve of, takes him to various spooky locales, from eerie forests and haunted cemeteries to the depths of madness itself.
Keeping in line with the minimalist, Atari 2600-esque aesthetic, the gameplay in Faith: The Unholy Trilogy is very straightforward. You’ll explore creepy locales, fend off creatures, purge cursed objects of evil spirits with your trusty crucifix, and when your cross just won’t cut it, avoid a menagerie of supernatural horrors who are eager to gobble you up like sacramental bread.
The areas you’ll visit throughout the story are pretty large, but there are many notes scattered around the environment or hidden in cursed items you’ll cleanse with your crucifix, which shed light on where you should be going. As you’d expect from a game with numerous endings to unlock, Faith: The Unholy Trinity certainly encourages experimentation. But it’s also an experience that’s much more concerned with guiding the player to the next carefully choreographed scare or unnerving cinematic than it is, leaving you fumbling in the dark without a clue where you need to go next.
But that’s not to say you won’t find yourself fumbling in the dark occasionally. This is a horror game, after all. Thankfully, rather than frustrating, these moments where you’re thrown into the inky black are some of the most exciting Faith has to offer. While navigating an eerie apartment building early in the second chapter, you’ll come across a frantic chase scene that forces you to use a camera’s flash to light the way while being pursued by a nightmarish entity. The light it gives off only lasts for an instant, forcing you to make a quick mental map of where you need to go next while the flash recharges. My heart was lodged firmly in my throat for the duration of this scene, and Faith: The Unholy Trinity is filled with similarly tense moments throughout all three chapters. If you never thought stick figures could be shit-yourself terrifying, wait until you play this game. It’ll make you a believer.
Oh, and speaking of the Faith: The Unholy Trinity’s visuals, I’d be remiss, not to mention the insanely creepy rotoscoped cutscenes peppered throughout each chapter. Go ahead and take a gander at the picture above to see what I’m talking about. It’s scary enough as a still shot and ten times more terrifying in motion. Full of demonic imagery and surreal acts of ultra-violence, these scenes are nothing short of striking and sure to make your hair stand on end. Coupled with the ear-eviscerating modulated speech that accompanies the in-game dialogue, you have a combination that’s sure to resonate with horror fans who’ve got a soft spot for the glory days of the ZX Spectrum and Commodore 64. Oh, and Satanists, too. Can’t forget those.
Faith: The Unholy Trinity also features some solid music. Much of it is chiptune versions of organ music you’d expect for a game that leans so heavily into its Christian themes. Other tunes reminded me more than a little of Shadowgate’s timeless melodies, with that same infectious mix of dread and mystery that’s left me humming them for about 30 years now. If that’s not high praise, then I don’t know what is.
Pixels In Purgatory
From the pixel-perfect presentation and exceptional atmosphere to the excellent writing, I enjoyed my time with Faith: The Unholy Trinity immensely. Still, there are some things about its design that may not resonate with some players. I don’t want to call these problems, per se, as they’re more a product of the era the game aims to emulate than anything else.
For starters, controlling your plucky pixelated padre feels very stiff, which can make quickly turning in the direction you need to face difficult at times. This, coupled with your character’s glacial movement speed, can make the game’s boss fights more frustrating than they need to be. And honestly, that’s a shame, because the boss encounters are quite well done, and they introduces some interesting gameplay twists that make each one quite engaging.
That said, if you’re the type of gamer who thrives on dodge-rolls, dashes, and fluid gameplay, you’re not going to find any of those in Faith: The Unholy Trinity. However, if you’re like me, a member of gaming’s crustier demographic, there’s a good chance you’ll find these quirks to be a part of the game’s nostalgic charm.
Another thing worth noting is the way the game handles its checkpoints. While they’re generally pretty frequent and well spaced, I found a few areas toward the home stretch where they were a bit more spread out than I’d like them to be, which can result in occasional frustration when an enemy spawns right next to you, forcing you to complete a grueling three-part gauntlet from the beginning, several times over.
Again, none of these issues are deal-breakers by any stretch, but less patient players may not be quite as forgiving.
With its numerous endings to uncover and pixel-perfect production values, Faith is one of the most unique and exciting games I’ve played in years. And now that the trilogy is available in one gloriously gory package, there’s never been a better time to take up the cross and see what all the shrieking incantations are about. Faith: The Unholy Trinity is a masterpiece in minimalist horror that no fan of the genre should miss.
Final Verdict: 4.5/5
Available on: PC (reviewed), PlayStation 4, Xbox One; Publisher: New Blood Interactive; Developer: Airdorf Games; Players: 1; Released: October 21, 2022; ESRB: M for Mature; MSRP: $14.99
Full disclosure: This review is based on a copy of Faith: The Unholy Trinity provided by the publisher.