Strategy satire Heretic’s Fork is about keeping lost souls in Hell
Strategy satire Heretic’s Fork is about keeping lost souls in Hell

Since joining the good ship RPS I’ve had to readjust to the daily reality of a corporate inbox, overflowing with internal Reedpop messages about Best Practices, expense claim guidance and other fiendish gambits designed to keep me from the holy labour of finding new games and telling you about them. On absent-mindedly firing up one such new game this morning, Heretic’s Fork, there was a terrible moment when I thought Reedpop had outsourced its middle management to Pandemonium.

In this satire of office admin from 9FingerGames, you play an infernal wage-slave who must stop lost souls escaping the underworld through a portal, by playing cards to set up machine gun nests, hellfiend garrisons and the like. The action unfolds in a Microsoft Windows parody, complete with demon Clippy, and is broadly a mixture of Vampire Survivors, tower defence and Space Warlord Organ Trading Simulator.

I’ve played a few rounds of Heretic’s Fork, and while it hasn’t quite lit my nerves on fire like SWOTS, it’s certainly moreish. Every soul that makes it through the portal reduces your health, and when there’s a massive crowd, you’ll be swamped and bled out in seconds, but careful preparation makes all the difference. You can place runes to curse and harvest health from souls that touch them, and unlock higher-level cards by “banishing” two inferior varieties from your deck. One early consideration when deck-building is whether to unlock slots for extra structures, or focus on powering up those in play. Over the course of the game, you’ll unlock new demon protagonists with different traits, and progress through the nine circles of Hell. There’s a demo, if you fancy giving it a whirl. The full game lands on 13th September.

One thing I was left curious about was the name. I’ve now looked it up, and I wish I hadn’t. Originally, a “heretic’s fork” was a medieval inquisitorial torture device consisting of a collar with sharp prongs pointing upward into the wearer’s chin, and downward into their sternum. The result being that you can’t lower your head or speak without piercing yourself. I suspect there’s some kind of office ergonomics parallel at work here, but I really don’t want to think about it too hard. While I’ve got you, here’s our list of the best management games.

Edwin Evans-Thirlwell

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