No matter how you pronounce or most likely mispronounce his name, Cthulhu is a cultural icon. He may never be as popular or as well-known as Frankenstein, Dracula or the Wolf Man but The Sleeper of R’lyeh, as he is called by some, has been just as influential.
The creation of legendary horror writer H. P. Lovecraft, Cthulhu first appeared in the classic short story “The Call of Cthulhu” where he was worshiped as an ancient god of evil. When I was younger Lovecraft’s entire mythos were brought to life in the role-playing, tabletop game Call of Cthulhu, which we played alongside Dungeons & Dragons and Marvel Superheroes and still do to this day, just not as often. In it, you portray everyday people caught up in supernatural cases with Lovecraft’s world and crazy creations providing the ominous backdrop.
Now some 37 years after its creation the tabletop game has become a video game. And what a game it is. Developed by Cyanide (Styx: Shards of Darkness) and published by Focus Home Interactive, who is really coming into its own as an edgy publisher releasing such unique games as Vampyr, The Technomancer and The Surge, Cthulhu’s riveting story and unnerving atmosphere takes hold of your imagination and never lets go until its final scene plays out.
As down-and-out private detective Edward Pierce, you are hired to investigate the tragic deaths of the Hawkins family. The family died in a puzzling fire that swept through their home. The mother, a local artist named Sarah Hawkins, is at the heart of the mystery. She has been blamed for the tragedy and one of the only clues as to what might of really happened that awful day revolves around one of sinister paintings.
Pierce’s search for answers brings him to the spooky New England port town of Darkwater. With a name like Darkwater, you just know things are going to go from bad to worse and they do rather quickly. The dingy, gloomy town is populated by all sorts of strange characters and even stranger locations such as the local hellish insane asylum and the abandoned Hawkins mansion itself, both of which must be explored to get to the heart of the Hawkins mystery and the unearthing of an insidious supernatural force.
Setting itself apart from the rest of the point and click adventure, the asylum level is much more like Outlast in the sense that you have to sneak around and take cover to avoid the roaming guards as you formulate an escape plan with the help of one of the deranged inmates.
There are a few combat and chase scenes as well but for the most part Call of Cthulhu is what you would want in a point and click adventure. You search areas and rooms for clues, solve a lot of puzzles, interrogate people and maybe even unlock a safe or two. The puzzles themselves are not as pointlessly easy like those in The Walking Dead but not as complicated as something you would find in The 11th Hour either. Your brain will get a workout not a migraine.
Another difference from most point and click games is you are awarded points to distribute as you wish to Pierce’s abilities. These abilities can make your job of tugging information out of or manipulating people, finding or deciphering objects, understanding supernatural objects or happenings much easier making the story flow with fewer complications.
With a press of two buttons Pierce can also enter into crime scene reconstruction mode as you might have done in some of the latest Batman games or as Connor, the police detective android in Detroit: Become Human. In his mind, Pierce can rewind time, reliving past events to piece together how a current state of a location or room became the way it is presently, what people were doing and what happened. Although it really is just a matter of clicking and finding the right clues in the right order like Batman and Detroit it is still good to see Cyanide continuing to push the envelope of the point and click genre.
Embodying all of the scares, thrills and mystery of the tabletop version and then some, Call of Cthulhu: The Official Video Game has taken that pen and paper experience to a whole new level. While there is room to improve some of the character animations and RPG elements, Cthulhu honours Lovecraft’s world bringing his unsettling ideas to life. When reviewing all of the best modern interpretations of Lovecraft’s work, Cthulhu: The Official Video Game ranks alongside filmmaker Stuart Gordon’s masterworks The Re-Animator and From Beyond films. Make some space on the shelf beside The 7th Guest, The Beast Within: A Gabriel Knight Mystery, Phantasmagoria, Under a Killing Moon, The Walking Dead and The 11th Hour as Call of Cthulhu: The Official Video Game is one of the best point and click adventure, horror games ever made.
- THE GOOD
- Eerie and engrossing story.
- Creepy characters and atmosphere generating thrills and chills.
- The sounds are especially unnerving. I dare you to wear headphones while playing.
- An amazing homage to Lovecraft and his iconic work.
- THE BAD
- Could do with more RPG elements to mirror the game more.
- Some of the character animations need a bit of work.
A modern horror masterpiece.