Interesting But Flawed Indie Game ‘The Tithe’ Free On Itch.io
When I first heard about The Tithe, I was immediately interested. Putting players in the shoes of a man who has inherited the curse of sacrificing himself to protect his family by holding mysterious monsters at bay sounded like an ambitious blend of existential terror and personal storytelling. It’s rare that an indie horror game comes along with an original concept, let alone one that lends itself so well to an emotionally resonant story. Unfortunately, for all of its ambition, the Tithe falls short in many ways- including its length.
The game starts evocatively enough. After a brief explanation of the curse surrounding the main character’s family, the player is dumped in a dank dungeon. Gifted with a special “sight,” they can close their eyes by clicking on the left and right mouse buttons, each button corresponding to a respective eye. With one eye, they can see their objectives: kneeling bodies scattered across the depths holding candles that must be lit. With the other eye, they can see the Plague Cherub, the main antagonist that will chase the player through the labyrinth.
It’s an interesting system to be sure. The Plague Cherub will gravitate towards players while using their “Objective” sight, meaning that the player needs to use it sparingly to avoid being gobbled up. However, using the other eye to see the Plague Cherub is unintentionally hilarious. The Tithe is, for the most part, a nice-looking game with grimy textures and appropriately atmospheric sound design. But the bright blue polygonal outline of the Cherub ruined all of that for me. He’s less of a fearsome beast than a chubby blueberry horse baby, lacking any animations as he floats through walls like a drunk ice-skating ghost on his way to give you a hug.
The environment itself is also just not interesting. The game changed each time I played, but each room looked entirely the same; the only things that changed were the doorways and the locations of my objectives. This made it incredibly difficult to escape the cherub once he locked onto me because I had a hard time finding the right direction to run. By the time I did, he had usually gobbled me already.
Environmental problems and goofy enemies aside, The Tithe is worth a look for anyone with an open mind and 10 minutes to spare. The brief investment necessary to see everything works in the game’s favor, and the final moments do the game’s bold premise justice and left me with something to think about. It’s a strong first step for a developer I’m looking forward to seeing again in the future.
You can download and play The Tithe for free right here.