‘In case you missed…’ is a retrospective series highlighting great indie games you maybe overlooked. Let’s face it, there are just too many games to play them all. So let us cherry-pick some good’uns for your enjoyment.
Leonardo, Michelangelo, Donatello, Raphael, no, not the Turtles, I’m talking about the famous Renaissance painters the heroes in a half-shell get their names from. Truth be told, I can’t list each artists portfolio. I’m aware of Renaissance artists and their paintings, like Da Vinci’s Mona Lisa and the Last Supper, but it’s not something I’ve studied.
Thankfully developer Joe Richardson has.
Using his in-depth knowledge of the art period, Richardson has crafted a Monty Pythonesque romp through the Renaissance, called The Procession to Calvary, and I bloody love it!
No more murders!
The game revolves around an unnamed knight (who is actually the titular ‘Bellona’ from Rembrandt’s 1633 painting of the Roman goddess of war) with an insatiable bloodlust. Unfortunately for her the war is over and her murderous ways must stop. Desperate to stab someone, she secures a mission to assassinate the former ruler, Heavenly Peter. And we’re off on a point and click quest through some masterpieces.
The gameplay is standard point and click fare. Someone you meet has just the thing you need to progress the story, but they’ve got a problem and need you to find X before they hand over Y. The comedy writing makes getting X in exchange for Y thoroughly enjoyable. I’m a fan of the absurdist surreal comedy of Monty Python so this is right up my Flying Circus.
The puzzles are straightforward enough and there was only a couple of times I was left scratching my head. The game is very kind to players and often just repeating conversations with characters will help the proverbial penny drop.
Just one more little murder?
But what is especially refreshing, and hilarious, is the ability to ‘skip’ any puzzles you dont like by drawing your sword and running through whichever bastard is holding you up. Need some oars to row your boat across the river but the injured soldier using them as crutches won’t hand them over? Just run him through with your sword and take the oars from his cold dead body. Of course if you do use this ‘method’ there will be repercussions down the line. You have been warned!
Getting back to the visuals, it turns out there is some bat-shit crazy stuff going on in these famous paintings. People roasting alive on spits, lute goblins, satirical anthropomorphic animals, guys holding massive keys, men made out of books, babies being shown to the recently deceased; the artists must have been on some strong puff back in the day.
Richardson’s keen eye draws out these oddities and weaves them into a coherent visual. It’s seamless stuff and you can’t tell where the amalgamations between famous works start and end. He’s also draws out the whacky characters from these masterpieces and gives them befittingly odd personalities. It makes for a uniquely silly experience.
There’s more like this?!
I say unique, but this is actually Richardson’s second game set in this artsy world with Four Last Things acting as a sort of prequel to Calvary. Each game plays well in isolation so don’t worry about having to tackle them in any order. If you enjoy one, you will definitely appreciate the other.
Plumbed into your ears throughout is a glorious soundtrack full of classical music. All the greats are here; Vivaldi, Bach, Beethoven, Sousa, and more. The aural and visual dovetail together perfectly. I love that in each scene you can see the artistic renditions of the musicians playing and you can sing along and applaud. Bravo!
*Before finishing I should mentioning that the humour is a little dark, which means it won’t suit everyone’s taste. And pokes at the Church or God offend you then maybe give this a miss.*
Overall The Procession to Calvary is a uniquely styled adventure game experience over 3-4 hours with silly gags and a good level of challenge with multiple endings. I’d highly recommend it, even just to see a skunk fart in a crowded room.
The Procession to Calvary was originally released on 9th April 2020 and is available on PC/Mac/Linux/Android/iOS. At the time of writing it is currently on sale on Steam at 40% off (£4.79)
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