Call of Cthulhu is out now, and the works of HP Lovecraft have fascinated those who love horror and mysterious places for countless years. Oddly, though, during his life his work wasn’t particularly popular and didn’t really start getting recognised, or read, till his death in 1937. Since then, there have been countless authors who now write in his particular style and use his creations. Brian Lumley comes to mind from the ’90s, and there are many contemporaries out there creating new stories today.
The Cthulhu Mythos has gained popularity and isn’t so niche any more!
There have been quite a few games based around The Call of Cthulhu already. Granted, not all feature the ancient one, himself. The naming just seems to use Lovecraft’s most famous creation as a main title, and then a secondary title. We have had Prisoner of Ice, Shadow of the Comet and Sherlock Homes: The Awakened, which are 90’s point and click adventure titles.
Dark Corners of the Earth, which came out 2006, which is an action/adventure in first person and there are numerous other games out there which have also been inspired by the works of Lovecraft. There is another coming out next year entitled The Sinking City. It appears that there may be a bit of a renaissance going on with the man’s work…
The past few weeks I have been playing through the new Call of Cthulhu game from Cyanide (Styx: Master of Shadows, Of Orcs & Men & Blood Bowl, to name a few of their prior titles). You play as private detective Edward Pierce who is hired to find out what caused the Hawkins family deaths after a fire broke out.
The game itself is based around investigation. Each location sees you searching for clues and evidence to try and piece together what is going on, and what has transpired previously.
You start out in a set of caves, working your way through them to a point where you will come across a ritual and see a tentacled person kill a police officer. This opening section just serves to set the scene of what is going on, as when you are approached by said tentacled person, you wake up in your office. After a few minutes searching about, looking at various items, you get a knock on the door to receive the job of investigating the Hawkins deaths.
From here things actually start to get pretty strange. You head out to Darkwater Island which has a whaling community, and when you arrive off to the left, you will see whalers arguing with a police officer about a curse if a dead whale gets put back into the sea. Upon inspection of the large mammal, it has huge… well, what looks like claw marks that have ripped it to pieces. It is pretty graphic. Needless to say, you cannot do a lot except talk to the officer in charge about what is going on, then head over to the ship captain who brought you in to find out best place in which to start looking for information on the Hawkins.
The game itself is pretty linear. There are only so many conversations you can have before dialogue is exhausted and there aren’t many routes to actually take – the woman in the bar as an example. If you choose the wrong dialogue when speaking to her, she just blanks you completely, telling you to go away. Thinking about what you are saying to certain characters is a must to get the best possible outcomes – the port town as an example of linearity. Your main goal, here, is to get into the warehouse that Hawkins was using, once you have talked with the captain, the whalers arguing with the police at the dock and the thugs blocking the street move out the way.
To get access to the warehouse, you can either give the two fishermen a bottle of whiskey and they will create a diversion (fight, possibly, as I didn’t do it this way) with the two guards. I went down the alley and into a large barn-type building and found the various bits to a winch, that opened a large floor grate. I took an underground tunnel (which does show you a weird cutscene, if you go this way) to gain access to said warehouse.
Once in the warehouse, you recreate and backtrack what has gone on and you are discovered by the police officer. You can decide to share the information with him about what you have discovered, and then both head off to the Hawkins mansion to do it all again…. searching a linear path to go through the mansion, and into the tunnels underground which is the opening few minutes of the game, but this time with more depth and you find out who the tentacled man is.
On top of the investigation side of things, there is a long stealth section where you have to escape from a hospital, I know this section isn’t liked too much from what I have read, as the NPCs in the area can be a bit overly sensitive to you creeping about. A bit of practice and patience, though, and searching about isn’t too bad. There are a few objectives you need to complete in order for the guards to move from a doorway so you can escape. Again, you have an option here: you can either cause a massive electrical discharge in the chamber where they do electric shock therapy (method I used) or you can cause a blowout with some pipework. At least, you have a choice and it does make a second playthrough different, as the game does have a few different endings depending on what you discover and how you talk to people.
For a horror game I must admit it isn’t particularly scary – you literally start in at the deep end with early imagery showing mutilated whales in the caverns… It kind of desensitises you to what can come later. In the entire time I have played, it has only startled me once. I will admit there is a general feeling of dread, though, much like the aforementioned 2006 title, Dark Corners of the Earth.
I have enjoyed my time with Call of Cthulhu and I probably will play through it again in the future to take the other options open to me and to see if I can get a different ending. I do think it is a little overpriced, though, as at times, the voice acting is a bit low-quality, and animation can be a little stiff. Additionally, you can get through it in around eight hours which is no bad thing if you only have limited time to play games. It does tend to rush a bit if you don’t explore every avenue, which can make the story seem a bit poor.
Call of Cthulhu is out now on PS4, Xbox One and PC/Steam from their respective online stores.
- Developer: Cyanide Studio
- Publisher: Focus Home Interactive
- Players: Single-player only
Retro at heart and lover of all things ’80s, especially the computers, the music and the awesome movies and TV shows! Crazy huge retro gaming collection spanning the ’80s and ’90s with hundreds of tapes, discs and carts for various machines on top of a 600+ strong Steam library that is ever-growing. No I am not a serial hoarder, just a dedicated retro gamer!