The renaissance art style is very rarely used in video games and I have no idea why. Monty Python showed the world how wonderfully silly it can be, and the Rock of Ages series proved that it works just as well in video game format too.
Now we have The Procession to Calvary: a renaissance point and click adventure that takes the crudeness and violence of the art, and mixes it with the humour of Monty Python. As you can imagine, I was very excited to get my hands on it.
Let’s see if it can live up to my expectations, or whether it should be hung, drawn, and quartered instead.
Many thanks to Digerati for the review code.
Countless lives have been lost throughout the Holy War, but it has finally ended. The game opens with a female knight returning from the war and realising that no more war means no more killing people. Our heroine isn’t too happy with that, so she asks permission from the new leader – Immortal John – to kill one more person. As luck would have it, the old leader – Heavenly Peter – managed to get away. Our unnamed psychopath thusly heads forth in search of Heavenly Peter to claim her final kill.
The game uses a vast array of Renaissance paintings as a basis for the game, which leads to it feeling both authentic and as absolutely flipping crazy as the scenes that art depicts. It’s stunning to look at, and each scene has its own music troupe that plays fitting music from the era. The game jut oozes charm, and the developer, Joe Richardson, has done a fantastic job bringing this world to life. There’s a great secondary plot woven into the narrative too that involves a famous religious figure, which proved to be a particular highlight for me, but obviously this storyline may end up causing offense to some players. It’s no worse than the pretty tame Monty Python’s Life of Brian, but it’s worth bearing in mind.
THE SECRET OF MONTY PYTHON
The Procession to Calvary is a point and click adventure, very much akin to the days of old: there’s no direct character movement, instead it opts for a cursor that guides the protagonist’s actions. Whilst newer games in the genre offer direct control of the character, it doesn’t matter too in Calvary since the pointing and clicking is pretty functional for the most part. A double click will make your character dash to the given location; unfortunately, they only go to locations and not to people or objects, meaning you will annoyingly need to click next to your actual target. Clicking on things in the overworld brings up a simple menu, allowing you to look at, speak to, or touch your target; the latter option is altered slightly when your sword is unsheathed, which will make your character touch in a different kind of way. In essence, your sword is effectively a ‘skip puzzle’ function and it fits the game perfectly. Your character is such a murderous psychopath that it makes perfect sense for her to just stab people to get what she wants?
Speaking of the puzzles, point and click games are notorious for nonsensical puzzles that require solutions derived from moon logic. I had more patience for it in my youth, but now I’ll happily resort to looking up a guide if relentless trial and error doesn’t prove fruitful. I’m pleased to say that The Procession to Calvary lacks those types of puzzles. Everything makes some kind of sense, even in this surreal world. The nonsense is saved for the situation and the outcome rather than the puzzles themselves. I only ever struggled at one point, but that was because I had discounted the usefulness of the art gallery (don’t ignore it!). This straightforwardness obviously means that veterans of the genre may find the game a tad too easy, but for me it was perfect.
It’s a shame then that the game is over so quickly. Even without shortcuts (short-stabs), I’d beaten the game in a couple of hours or so. It follows a similar structure to games of old with a relatively short opening section designed to introduce you to the world, and then a meaty middle act, but there’s no meaty finale here. Once the second act ends, you’re left with what is essentially just the ending. Story-wise, it does everything it needs to, but I was still left wanting more of the world to explore.
But, what is there is an absolute delight. From start to finish, there wasn’t a dull moment. Character interactions are joyful, storylines are superb, and everything is incredibly weird. Within minutes of the game I found myself stealing socks from naked wrestlers to help someone keep their feet warm. This, in turn, would allow me to gain their support when trying to obtain crutches from an old man. Trust me, it makes perfect sense while you’re playing the game.
The Procession to Calvary lives up to its glorious premise. It offers a great point and click adventure with superb Pythonesque humour and puzzles that make sense, even in this world of nonsense. It’s a damn shame that it’s over so quickly. I really hope to see more from Richardson on the Switch in the future!