I’m not very good at keeping up with Game Pass games, so when I caught wind of The Procession to Calvary‘s imminent departure from the service, I’d no clue if it had been there for months or weeks. Regardless, I jumped on the opportunity just in time to catch the game. Thankfully, it was short venture, which I saw through over a single weekend, so I didn’t have to worry about any eleventh-hour signs of doom. Was playing The Procession to Calvary a worthwhile venture? Well, I could easily argue that any short puzzle game is usually worth its time, especially when those puzzles are accessed by pointing and clicking, and indeed, The Procession to Calvary was no different, to a point. Let’s take a look behind its curtain…or rather, tapestry of intrigue.
The Procession to Calvary is a game that’s best seen rather than described, but I’ll do my best. It’s animation is essentially a cut-and-paste pastiche of paintings from the European Renaissance. Think: knights in shining armor, popes and priests, peasants and scribes, cherubs and gargoyles, religious scenes, circuses, and devilish depictions of the unknown. No doubt much on view in the game is familiar to European art historians; for me, its scenery and characters were adorably strange, funny, and downright odd in several cases. Players take the reins as a knight tasked with finding Heavenly Peter, a tyrant of the worst kind. (Not that there’s such a thing as a good tyrant, but I digress.) By traversing the game’s world and interacting with its scenes and inhabitants — pointing and clicking away at anything and everything — the knight seeks her revenge! And she gets in a few good laughs along the way, too.
The visual look and feel of The Procession to Calvary are its primary highlights. Its world is richly saturated with color and design. Characters featured within each scene lightly move in pieces and parts (as does the knight herself) and react when touched by the game’s cursor. In further clicking, the knight can engage in conversations with select characters to obtain information about what to do or where to go next (all done in the name of finding Heavenly Peter, of course). The knight can also pick up items, which are then placed in an inventory and wait to be used. Figuring out what items the knight needs and need to use in any given scene are both one part of the puzzle. Deciphering clues given by character is second part. A third part – one that’s easily missed if you’re not paying close enough attention – is choosing how the knight interacts with people. Be nice, and eventually she’ll win the day. Be naughty and, well…let’s just say you really don’t want to be naughty.
Save for a delightful soundtrack full of Renaissance-era tunes, The Procession to Calvary is a silent game. Conversations take place via text that pops up when moving the cursor over a character. It’s a mechanic that works fine, and as such, players can easily re-read any text in any scene as needed. If I have but one qualm with the game, it’s the language. Not that it’s bad per se, but its modern cadence grows old quickly. When the game first came out on Steam a couple years ago, I recall reading an article that compared its style to Monty Python and the Holy Grail. That inspiration is evident in the game, and some of the language does reflect its script. But much of it reads like bad farce. It’s too self-aware, too irreverent for its own good, especially in scenes that featured religious motifs (which, frankly, is a bulk of Renaissance art). Some of it is also poorly written. After a while, the language just took me out of the game, and it made me rush to the finish line because I was tired of reading bad grammar rather than savoring the game’s better nuances.
All in all, The Procession to Calvary is a fun game that fell a little short in how it told its story. Misuse of the English language aside, even with its quirks, it’s a solid and memorable game that’s neither too easy nor too difficult. It’s also easy on the eyes and ears, and revels in creativity. I’d highly recommend it to those looking for a solid point-and-click game, fans of Renaissance music and stylings, and anyone who’s short on time with a penchant for a good puzzle.
All images, including lede, were taken by author during Xbox gameplay of The Procession to Calvary (© Joe Richardson).