Ever wondered what might have happened if Jesus went full wrathful deity after the crucifixion? The indie game The Inquisitor lets you dive into that dark alternate history. You play as Mordimer Madderdin, a medieval church investigator sent to root out heretics and enforce religious doctrine. That often involves torture. Lovely! The premise comes from Polish fantasy author Jacek Piekara’s Inquisitor series, which imagines a brutal holy empire founded by a vengeful resurrected Christ.
Bringing this sinister world to life is Polish studio The Dust, veterans of niche VR titles. Their ambition with The Inquisitor outstrips their execution – it’s a bit clunky and dated, built with Unity on what was probably a modest budget. But there’s some grim appeal to inhabiting a religious dystopia and playing detective across a fantasy version of medieval Europe. Just expect some jank along the way.
The Inquisitor blends investigation gameplay with stealth sequences in a dark spirit realm and basic sword combat against both human foes and monsters. Most of your time will be spent gathering clues and interrogating witnesses rather than hacking away, so action fans beware. But if you crave a down-and-dirty low fantasy mystery with some tongue-in-cheek heresy, The Inquisitor might just condemn you to a good time.
Heretical History and Half-Baked Intrigue
The Inquisitor builds an imaginative backdrop, even if it doesn’t always use it well. The idea of a militant Jesus leading a bloody crusade across Europe sets up a twisted take on Christianity – this is a religion of strict obedience and merciless retribution, not peace or forgiveness. You’ll see crosses and churches aplenty, but the iconography celebrates conquest and punishment. It’s a clever “what if” that casts familiar figures like the Virgin Mary as more vicious exponents of the faith.
Early on, The Inquisitor leans hard into this sinister setting. The vibe of skulking around town investigating demonic murders and medieval heresies makes for a strong start. But the intrigue framing the experience rarely lives up to the world’s potential. As inquisitor Mordimer Madderdin, you’ll spend more time sprinting across town chasing plot coupons than soaking in the atmosphere or carefully deducing clues. And for all the talk of hard choices with consequences, the story plays out on rails with few meaningful forks based on your actions.
It doesn’t help that Mordimer is passive to the point of disinterest, simply stumbling through key events rather than driving the inquiry with cunning and conviction. A rare bright spot is his rapport with a plucky orphan named Amelia, who injects some heart and humor into the dour proceedings. But most characters feel flat, and the central mystery fails to offer satisfying payoff for its sprawling runtime. Strange magical interludes hint at deeper secrets, but the core plot spins its wheels.
The Inquisitor reaches for but never quite grasps a sense of religious subversion or layered intrigue worth investing in. Still, the novelty of playing detective in Inquisition Europe retains some appeal over the dozen-hour quest. Just expect more commuting across town and unsatisfying reveals than compelling sleuthing adventures in an imaginative new world. Madderdin makes for a pretty mediocre messiah proxy. Where’s rageful Jesus when you need him?
Clunky Systems Undercut the Inquisition Fantasy
As an inquisitor, Mordimer’s chief duties involve gathering clues, interrogating suspects, and occasionally partaking in stealthy supernatural spying or sword fights when backs are against the wall. In theory, that blend could make for a fresh medieval mystery. In practice, The Inquisitor’s disjointed collection of half-baked gameplay systems fail to gel into a cohesive or compelling experience.
The core loop revolves around chasing plot coupons and triggering cutscenes more than applying detectivework deductive reasoning. Any sense of being an actual inquisitor fades quickly. While you’ll search murder scenes for interactive clues, it’s impossible to miss key details or draw incorrect conclusions that meaningfully impact the linear story. Conversations allow some flexibility through dialogue choices, but their consequences seem negligible. Whether you intimidate subjects into talking or beat them into submission, they’ll spit out quest-advancing reveals either way.
Action sequences intended to add some spice land with a resounding thud. Lackluster stealth segments cast you as a slow-moving monk tiptoeing around demons in a shadow realm. Melee combat reduces medieval duels to clumsy hack-and-slash flailing. Both feature braindead enemy AI that prevents any real challenge. These mandatory bouts feel like half-hearted distractions tossed in to break up the rote detective work.
Adding insult to injury, Mordimer controls like he’s constantly battling debilitating back pain. Running across town between objectives feels like wrestling an oxcart through mud. And his supposed torture device looks one stiff breeze away from collapsing — hopefully before the rickety thing crushes the poor souls chained to it. Technical quirks and visual inconsistencies further erode any sense of immersive roleplaying potential. Janky animations, erratic camera movement, and scenes where characters slide around like Chess pieces on an uneven board are commonplace.
The Inquisitor conjures up visions of presenting difficult judgments that balance faith, duty, and morality. If only its shaky Grad student game design project foundation didn’t undermine those ambitions at every turn. Without rewarding gameplay possibilities or impactful choices, playing pretend pastor detective loses its appeal no matter how creatively creepy the setting. Nobody expects the busted mechanics!
Muddled Medieval Aesthetic
The Inquisitor’s visual presentation aims to capture the grim look and feel of a late medieval society shaped by an unforgiving state religion. Bleak palettes of browns and grays paint a suitably rundown atmosphere throughout the town of Koenigstein. The architecture shows its age, with cracked masonry and dilapidated woodwork on full display. Plenty of religious iconography pervades the environments as well, from imposing churches to backyard shrines warning of eternal damnation.
It’s an appropriately oppressive habitat for Inquisition antics. But subpar technical execution undermines the aesthetic intent. Character models skew grotesque rather than realistic, with exaggerated features and awkward proportions like oversized heads. Stilted movements and wooden facial animations further diminish their humanity. These shortcomings prove hugely distracting during otherwise tense conversations with suspects and witnesses. Rather than focusing on subtle tells exposing deception, you can’t help but stare at misshapen bodies contorting in unnatural ways.
The visual low points tend to involve living beings more than static backdrops. Individual environments showcase admirable detail and scope, doing fine work establishing time and place. They just feel regrettably detached from many actual events due to shoddy integration with character and camera mechanics. Odd glitches like floating objects and clipping characters sap things of immersion too. At least the 2D cutscene art and interface screens showcase bolder stylization.
Complementing the imagery is serviceable voice work and a moody orchestral score fitting the somber subject matter. Neither the acting nor compositions stand out as exceptional, but they support the atmosphere without distraction. As with the visuals, audio polish focuses more on accents and ambience than direct character interactions. Probably for the best given strained attempts at period dialogue. Just don’t expect many memorable conversations or musical motifs.
Inquisition Intentions Gone Awry
On the surface, The Inquisitor appears to offer a chance to wrestling with weighty moral dilemmas. As inquisitor Mordimer Madderdin, you supposedly judge the fates of various townsfolk associated with occult crimes and heresies against the church. Intimidate them into confessing misdeeds through torture devices? Grant mercy in return for cooperation? Such decisions promise meaningful impacts befitting an enforcer facing life-or-death scenarios.
In practice, situational judgments and conversation choices lack bite or substance. The story follows a strictly linear path regardless of whether you play good inquisition cop or bad. Outcomes after interrogations and judgments remain static, proceeding to the next plot point irrespective of methods.
The game gestures vaguely that certain decisions may carry later consequences, but none manifest in any noticeable capacity. Whether an NPC vies for revenge or accepts their sentence, events continue unfolding unaffected. Even a rare instance with opportunity to avoid a fight resulting in an NPC death still plays out the same afterwards, erroneously assuming said death still occurred offscreen.
Lip service notwithstanding, The Inquisitor avoids lending players any tangible sense of narrative ownership through CONSEQUENCE-LADEN actions. Mordimer comes across as an actor stuck on scripted rails rather than authentically reacting to player will imposed upon this grim world. What should offer dire insight into complex ethics under authority devolves into illusion of agency amidst an indifferent hamster wheel.
Better religious authoritarian intrigue and morality systems exist in franchises like BioWare’s Dragon Age. The Inquisitor preaches but does not practice ambitious themes of doctrinal weight and enforcement costs. An admirable reach lacking grasp in execution.
Beasts of Burden
The Inquisitor pits inquisitor Mordimer against both human foes like rogue witch hunters and nightmarish creatures from beyond the veil. You’ll clash swords with religious zealots and shadow beasts alike in service of church decree. Unfortunately, neither boast inspired design or engaging combat routines.
Standard enemies feel sparse in variety. Human encounters draw chiefly from soldier and peasant templates, varying little beyond weapon choice. Demonic entities loosely derive from animals, including wolves, boars, and spiders, with occasional palette swaps turning coats darker. Most exhibit crude attack patterns easily anticipated and exploited thanks to deficient AI. Later sections feature light tweaks through palette variations and slight speed changes, but negligible substance.
Boss design proves equally uninspired, amounting to bulked up damage sponges with wider sweeping blows players can comfortably roll under after quickly identifying safe windows for counterattacks. None possess interesting positional weaknesses to target or phases that mix up the dynamics. Meanwhile, a bizarre giant baby face surrounded by floating swords stands out as the lone attempt at memorable weirdness. An exception that proves the rule.
For all the talk of otherworldly evils and heretical horrors, The Inquisitor rarely transcends a flat bestiary of mundane medieval brawlers and beasts failing at establishing threatening atmosphere or gameplay diversity. Even tracking clues on various killing sprees receives short shrift in favor of more enemy wave rushing. Leaving the forces of evil in sore need of conceptual inspiration befitting the setting’s sinister scope.
A Passion of Regret
The Inquisitor springs from a fabulously twisted fiction premise that oozes sinister appeal – playing as a merciless church detective in an alternate history where Jesus went full homicidal prophet post-crucifixion. Reality proves less entertaining than possibility, alas. For all of its narrative ambition and aesthetic intent, The Inquisitor leaves much to be desired as an interactive experience.
Core gameplay systems fumble the inquisitor fantasy, reducing investigations to patchy pixel hunts and linear plot delivery. Action sequences flop as well, from flat combat to outright annoying spirit realm escapades. Topping it off is a central mystery that fosters little engagement or ownership despite overtures of grim intrigue. Uneven presentation plagued by graphical glitches, erratic cameras, and painfully stilted character animations further erode immersion.
In fairness, modest indie production budgets can only stretch so far, and The Inquisitor tries stretching farther than its rickety bones allow. It reaches admirably if not always artfully thanks to its outlandish premise. But reach exceeds its grasp by a considerable margin when it comes to playable entertainment.
Fans of Piekara’s dark religious fiction may still appreciate a guided tour of this twisted universe and extended Inquisitor lore. Just brace for frustrating limitations in embodying a ruthless reaper of heretics. Those seeking more satisfying low fantasy detective action fare better with matured genre entries like Sherlock Holmes: Crimes and Punishments or The Council. Maybe give this one a confessional peek for morbid curiosity’s sake before administering last rites. Because while The Inquisitor promises a gleefully diabolical thought experiment letting gamers wield merciless divine authority, tepid design condemn it to an awkward, empty inquisition.
The Inquisitor boasts twisted appeal on paper, but mediocrity rules in practice. Where it channels creativity into its sinister religious premise, it lacks vision transforming those hellish seeds into captivating gameplay. As an investigative action-adventure, it falters more than it flourishes. Provocative setting and aesthetic carry faint damnation-defying entertainment value for some, but don't expect the righteous fury of any punishing prophet at the helm.
- Unique dark fantasy setting and premise
- Intriguing protagonist and backstory
- Some well-realized environments
- Uninspired investigation gameplay loop -Technically rough presentation
- Stilted writing and acting
- Lackluster action sequences
- Unsatisfying central mystery