CALL OF CTHULHU Review: Something Fishy This Way Comes

Developed by Cyanide Studio

Published by Focus Home Interactive

Available on PC, PS4, Xbox One

Available for $60 ($45 on PC)


It’s strange with how few straight Lovecraft video games are out there. The man is a legend. His stories have spawned an endless tide of “inspired by” adaptations, non-canon continuations, and well-intentioned knockoffs. If your story has any kind of sea monster or sanity draining abomination, be ready to be labeled, “Lovecraftian.” The moniker has become so popular with my generation (bullshit millennials) that you can practically interchange “Lovecraftian” with the word “spooky.” It’s not that the man didn’t earn the adulation. It would be hard to imagine the modern horror landscape without the likes of Cthulhu, Nyarlathotep, and Dagon.

Now if you’re raising an eyebrow at that previous paragraph, I’m talking about games based on actual Lovecraft stories, not just things labeled Lovecraftian. We’ve got Call of Cthulhu: Dark Corners of the Earth, Eldritch, Cornarium, Achtung! Cthulhu Tactics, and a number of older point-and-click adventure games that no one remembers. I have no idea why; it seems that any game just bearing a Cthulhu title would be launched into success by name alone. Perhaps this is the work of a far greater force, something more insidious and malignant than any creature living or dead: licensing restrictions.

On the other hand, maybe it’s because Lovecraft stories are just a bitch to adapt. As much as I love undying horrors from beyond the far reaches of the cosmos, there’s only so many ways you can say, “I saw something super duper scary, and it broke my brain.” Even the most faithful and direct Lovecraft adaptations use the source material more as a springboard to launch into a more detailed story. Cult favorite Call of Cthulhu: Dark Corners of the Earth takes a lot of creative liberty in stitching like, four different stories together. Which leads us into Call of Cthulhu.

Honestly, just leaving your derelict ships beached on your shores, awash in the ominous glow of a distant lighthouse? Do you WANT fishmen? Because this is how you get fishmen.

Call of Cthulhu, the 2018 video game, is an adaptation of Call of Cthulhu, a pen-and-paper RPG created by Chaosium. Call of Cthulhu (2018) is not related to Call of Cthulhu: Dark Corners of the Earth. None of them are direct adaptations of “The Call of Cthulhu,” a short story about a guy who finds a spooky statue. The “Cthulhu-verse” is where all this takes place, although Cthulhu himself hardly ever shows up. Okay… I think I get why there aren’t more direct adaptations.

I’m going to assume you’re unaware of the Chaosium Call of Cthulhu pen-and-paper RPG. I’ve only ever even met four other people that have heard of it, and all of them were in my playgroup. It’s super fun and I’d highly recommend it, but it’s certainly not Pathfinder levels of popular. It has plenty of mechanical flaws but makes up for them with the limitless possibilities and unbridled creativity the medium of pen-and-paper offers. Fortunately, your ignorance isn’t going to heavily hamper you, as the people at Cyanide Studios seem to have also forgotten about it.

Doing away with all of the breadth and creativity the pen-and-paper world offers, Call of Cthulhu is a linear adventure game. All that remains of the system that inspired it are seven skills that you can improve up to five times each. These skills act as gateways to certain dialogue options or puzzle solutions. If your strength is high enough, then you can just muscle your way through some puzzles. If your investigation skills are high enough, you can pick locks instead of hunt for the key. If your occult is high enough, you can speak fish. Cool.

“Hey kid, you wana learn fishpeak?”

You play as Private Investigator Edward Pierce, a WW1 vet with a drinking problem and a troubled past. After a fitful dream rousts you from your mid-afternoon booze-nap, a mysterious stranger arrives at your office with a job to investigate the Hawkin’s family estate. Off you go to the ominously named Darkwater Island. Once there you will point, click, and dialogue tree your way through that one Cthulhu story we have all come to expect.

Ha HA! I’ve got you eldritch horrors! You can’t break my mind if I break it first!

Now, none of this sounds bad so far. I’m certainly not about to shit on a Cthulhu story for being a Cthulhu story. As soon as you saw Cthulhu in the title, the betting odds were on fishmen, cults, glowing symbols, and a hefty dose of wobbly camera distortion. I’m fine with standard Cthulhu. As long as it’s told well, give me all the wall-eyed fish people you can muster. It’s in the execution that Call of Cthulhu ultimately fails.

Storywise, the pacing really screws the pooch. You very quickly sense that something is off in the world of Darkwater, but the game lacks the length or depth to allow that foreboding sense to naturally grow. The game is only like seven hours long, and by the end of the first level, you’ll have glimpsed your first painting of a fishman. By level five, you’re already locked in an asylum after coming face-to-face with a creature of the deep. It all just happens so fast, you have no chance to let the feeling of dread and mystery build. You’ll learn about, discover the location of, and acquire the fucking Necronomicon all in the same investigation of a derelict bookstore.

Cthulhu flies in the skyyyyy. Your whole world will dieeeee! Just take a look, it’s in this book, the reading brain blowwwwww.

Side characters suffer from the same lack of development. The cast is pretty standard, consisting of a mad scientist, crime boss femme fatale, tortured artist with evil premonitions, an insane scholar, and a fish person. Okay, so not “standard” standard, but certainly what we expect from a Cthulhu story. Once again, the major issue is that none of the characters get enough screen time to really give a shit if they survive.

Seriously, detective no-eyes here is a pivotal character

It’s a big problem when a Cthulhu story doesn’t grab you, but all of this could be forgiven if the game was fun to play. Unfortunately, the gameplay suffers from the same lack of pacing. Fundamentally, Call of Cthulhu is a point-and-click adventure in 3D. You’ll investigate crime scenes, amble about towns, and stumble your way through conversation trees in an attempt to suss out all the eldritch secrets your mind can fathom. There are also a few stealth sequences and one abysmal “gunplay” section that boils down to “click mouse to kill zombie.”

Once again, I’m not going to shit on an adventure game for being an adventure game. You’re a detective, so I expect most of the gameplay would revolve around your detective stuff. The big issue is that none of the skills feel meaningful. Aside from unlocking certain dialogue/puzzle options, there’s no benefit to upping your skills. If you go for better lockpicking, you’ll be able to pick better locks. If you pick higher strength, you’ll be able to shoulder bash more locks. If you pick higher dialogue skills, you’ll be able to convince people to open the door for you. Three different skills, all the same conclusion.

If you look very closely, it kind of looks like he’s pooping.

None of this is helped by the fact that none of the puzzles are particularly difficult or intriguing. Even without the beneficial skill checks, I didn’t once have to look up a guide or bust out my thinking cap. One particularly egregious action sequence had me smashing open different display cases trying to find which dagger was the magic monster killing dagger. There was no thought involved, just trial and error until I picked the dagger with the special blue marks on it.

God, you don’t just KNOW that the bone dagger is the only one that can kill the dimensional shambler spawned forth from the nightmare painting of a cursed oracle? You absolute scrublord.

Now I’m getting pretty down on the game, but I don’t feel like Call of Cthulhu is all a wash. The core story is pretty great, with enough spooky eldritch depth to feel like a true Cthulhu story. If the game just gave itself some more time to tell it all, it could be something really special. There are also a number of fantastic set-piece moments, where the line between what is real and what is imagined blur to a point worthy of the Lovecraft name. For fans of the mythos, it will be fun just for that alone.

I have to also acknowledge that much of my opinion is contingent on the $60 price tag. For a game this short and mechanically limited, it’s absolutely absurd to be charging full price. If this were a $20 fan game, I could easily see this making its way onto some Game of the Year lists. As a $60 title, I cannot imagine buying this and not being disappointed.

Ultimately, Call of Cthulhu is a cool idea that just doesn’t deliver. Building a game off of the Chaosium system is a monumental task, so I can see why they slimmed it down. But the amount of fat that they trimmed also cut away all of the meat. Call of Cthulhu is anemic, too short and contained to properly elaborate on either the story or mechanics. There are some great moments, and I would highly recommend it as a discount buy during a sale. As a full priced game, there’s no way I could recommend it to all but the most diehard fans.

The post CALL OF CTHULHU Review: Something Fishy This Way Comes appeared first on Dread Central.

The ‘Call of Cthulhu’ Accolade Trailer Celebrates the Lovecraft RPG’s Success

Focus Home Interactive has released an accolade trailer for Cyanide’s Lovecraft RPG Call of Cthulhu.

It features plenty of praise and high scores for the game from a wide variety of sites. You can see what positive things have been said about Cyanide’s game in the trailer below.

Despite some heavy criticism from some quarters, Call of Cthulhu has managed to find its fans both in the press and in the gaming community. At Bloody Disgusting, we gave it three skulls out of five, praising its conversation and investigation aspects, but criticized its technical faults, rushed finale, and poor stealth and combat.

Call of Cthulhu is out now on PS4, Xbox One, and PC.

 

‘Call of Cthulhu’ is Phantasmagorically Fantastic

Cthulhu

Madness is everywhere in Focus Interactive and Cyanide Studio’s latest H.P. Lovecraft mythos-based Call of Cthulhu. The psychological, investigational, RPG steeps itself deeply in the world of Lovecraft, complete with Easter-eggs, winks and all the cosmic terror you can handle. Much more based on the physical pen and paper RPG, Call of Cthulhu takes the […]

The post ‘Call of Cthulhu’ is Phantasmagorically Fantastic appeared first on Horror News and Movie Reviews.

‘Call of Cthulhu’ Launch Trailer Cranks up The Cult And The Creepy

October 30th is right around the corner, so what better time to remind you to snag Cyanide Studios’ Call of Cthulhu on that day? In fact, we’ve gotten the launch trailer for the game, which like so many of the previous trailers, is heavy on the Cthulhu and the weird. It also does a good job of getting the game’s story up and running for those who “walked in late”.

Look for Call of Cthulhu to hit PlayStation 4, Xbox One and PC next week.

Call of Cthulhu: The Official Video Game

Call of Cthulhu: The Official Video Game is a role-playing survival horror video game developed by Cyanide and published by Focus Home Interactive for PlayStation 4, Xbox One and Windows.

The game features a semi-open world environment and will incorporate themes of Lovecraftian and psychological horror into a story which includes elements of investigation and stealth. It is inspired by H. P. Lovecraft‘s short story ‘The Call of Cthulhu’, while also being an adaptation of the 1981 role-playing game of the same title.

The game follows investigator Edward Pierce who is a private detective in an existential crisis. As the Boston of 1924 doesn’t provide him with any cases, the war veteran flees into consuming alcohol and pills.

However, there is a glimmer of hope when a mysterious case one day lands on his desk. The detective is asked to solve the death of the Hawkins family, who mysteriously died in a fire.

As the only clue is a strange picture painted by the supposedly crazy mother shortly before her death, Edward has to set out to Darkwater Island near Boston, Massachusetts to find out more about the matter and discovers the impending revival of the Great Old One Cthulhu…

 

The game is released on October 30, 2018 with a Nintendo Switch release possible in early 2019.

All images are © 2018 Chaosium Inc. Call of Cthulhu is a video game published by Focus Home Interactive and developed by Cyanide SA; used here for information and educational use only.

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Latest ‘Call of Cthulhu’ Trailer Keeps The Madness (And Praise) Rolling

That thirtieth of October is creeping ever so closer, and Cyanide Studios are hoping to keep Lovecraft fans’ collective attention on Call of Cthulhu with this new trailer. And really, it shouldn’t be that hard, because the game looks friggin’ awesome visually, and hopefully will be a blast to play.

Of course, the trailer itself is laden with quotes from the gaming press who have had a chance to play it, and at the end of it all, encouraging you to pre-order the game. So all in all, mission accomplished? Neil will have a little something to say on the game once it hits October 30th for PC, PlayStation 4 and Xbox One.

[Review] ‘Achtung! Cthulhu Tactics’ Brings Turn-Based Terrors, But Needs More Strategic Depth

Turn-based strategy is at its best when it throws in a good bit of sci-fi and/or horror. A fusion of alternate history also helps too it seems. The novelty of the concept Achtung! Cthulhu Tactics brings to the turn-based strategy genre is what really sells it.

A turn-based strategy title that heads to alternate-reality World War II doesn’t sound like too much of a leap, but how about you throw in a technologically-advanced Nazi war machine that’s in league with eldritch abominations?

That’s what you get here, and it serves as a delightful backdrop to a relatively limited strategic stage.

The Nazis are turning the tide of the war thanks to technological advances, and your elite squad of allied forces is deep behind enemy lines. There’s a secret war against the Cult of the Black Sun going on which might have something to do with the creeping death from underground that threatens to become the real problem at any moment. To put it simply, you’re up shit creek and the water’s filled with tentacle monsters and Nazis.

Achtung! Cthulhu Tactics is part of Modiphius’ tabletop RPG universe of  Achtung! Cthulhu, itself a heady blend of Lovecraft (rather popular in games at the moment) and World War II (Achtung! is an official canon part of the RPG’s lore). In this particular part of the world, your team has a particular set of skills that make them perfect for fighting back the dual threat of Nazis and the brood of Cthulhu. The focus is on managing that team rather than handling a whole organization a la XCOM. A turn-based strategy it may be, but its tactics by name, tactics by nature for Achtung!

achtung cthulhu tactics review

What that means is there’s less tinkering behind the scenes between missions. Yes, you can upgrade your squad in RPG-lite style and change up their loadouts, but that’s pretty much the extent of it, and you have a set four characters throughout who could do with a bit more personality. The meat of the game is on the battlefield though, where the story unfolds from mission to mission, where you face escalating threats as your squad trudges deeper into enemy territory. The focus is on the story and the missions which mean Achtung! Cthulhu Tactics is far more scripted and streamlined than XCOM or the recent Cold-War set Phantom Doctrine.

This is not necessarily a bad thing mind, for the tactical essence of the missions is deeper to compensate. When out of combat, your squad can move freely from point to point without any costs to Action Points (AP). Once you spot or are spotted by enemies, the game locks into combat mode, a familiar turn-based, and tile-based, strategy. Here you set the individual directions your four-person squad is to look in. This helps to reveal any foes in that line of sight as the map uses the typical ‘Fog of War’ effect as a more literal threat, always shrouding what isn’t in the eye-line of the squad. It adds a bit of tension to combat when you can’t be exactly sure what’s lurking, but know it’s there. It’s kind of fitting in fact, for a game taking in Lovecraft’s unknown entities. You can illuminate the fog with light sources too, so flares come in handy.

Beyond that it’s pretty much the XCOM set up. shot chance percentages, Overwatch, particular weapons, equipment, and abilities for each squad member. There are even status effects on your squad’s psychological state as the mere sight of the beastlier foes they come across can put them in a panic and eventually shred their sanity. The key difference is that when you kill enemies and complete objectives on a map, you gain momentum points that can be spent on extra moves during a turn. Having that one extra shot at a stubborn Shoggoth can be the difference between victory and failure so it’s a smart move to reward good tactical play this way.

achtung cthulhu tactics review

As time goes on, Achtung! Cthulhu Tactics begins to lose some of its shine. The map design, while solid, lacks inspiration, and having little in the way of anything to do outside missions only drives this home harder. Yes, it’s nice to see this format used to focus on characters rather than an overall organization, but the squad is found wanting for personality. Then there’s the enemy variety. You expect the ungodly horrors to escalate as you progress and for a while they do, but it’s a rather limited assortment and there’s not much variance in how they can be dealt with.

While we’re listing gripes, the presentation is a bit drab too. It’s not ugly, just fairly standard visuals both in the missions and on the menu screens with the only flair coming from the character design (which, even then, is nothing spectacular). It’s not the be all and end all, but with the game already feeling a little light in a multitude of ways, looking so ordinary doesn’t do it any favors either.

There’s been the odd technical hiccup, but nothing too major. The odd shuddery camera movement here and there and an occasional brief freeze. Also worth noting is that some enemy turns have taken far too long to be completed and that can boil into frustration. The developer has taken notice of this though and is looking into fixing it. Otherwise, Achtung! is fairly solid.

What Achtung! Cthulhu Tactics does well is offer a fairly approachable turn-based strategy for fans of the tabletop RPG, and also act as a nice introduction to that RPG for the uninitiated. It lacks an extra bit of polish and a few more bells and whistles, but it’s still an enjoyable enough tactical adventure.

Achtung! Cthulhu Tactics Review Code provided by the publisher.

Achtung! Cthulhu Tactics is out now on Steam PC, and at a later date on PS4, Nintendo Switch, and Xbox One.

Cyanide Studio Walks Through Hour of ‘Call of Cthulhu’ Gameplay

Three weeks ago, we finally got a glimpse of the gameplay for Cyanide Studio’s adaptation of Call of Cthulhu. And now, thanks to the wonders of the internet (well, more like the devs allowing previews), we have a full hour of gameplay from the game.

Now, two things: One, this is the beta version of the game (from this past Gamescom, specifically), so things might not be final when the game finally releases on October 30th. Second, while it’s cool and all that we get this preview, we do get commentary by the devs, who are playing the game while answering questions from a chat, so those looking for a gameplay-audio only playthrough are out of luck. We also don’t get to see the questions that were asked, which is also a bummer.

Still, we do get some demonstrations of the gameplay mechanics, including those which Cyanide have been able to adapt from the board game. According to the devs, the main path will take you 12-15 hours to play through, but that’s not including all of the side quests. Then there are all of the choices you make that determine the ending, which are in turn affected by your sanity and phobias. It sounds like a lot of juggling, so hopefully come Halloween, it all comes together.