Game Review: Join the cult and hear the Call of Cthulhu


While tabletop games require the player to delve into the darkest reaches of the imagination, can Call of Cthulhu suck the player into the world of the coming Old One, or does it fall short and leave us wanting for something more?

Call of Cthulhu is a  story that I am familiar with but I’ll be the first to admit that I am no H.P. Lovecraftian master. I’ve always submerged myself into Poe’s literature more than Lovecraft’s but the world that he created with multiple dimensions, horrific creatures that can pass between them and sleeping space gods with no care of humanity and yet they are worshiped by members of said humanity has fascinated me. Lovecraft has inspired films, other books, pen and paper games and now a new video game.

Developed by Cyanide and published by Focus Home Interactive (who has also had their hands in another horror themed game this year, Vampyr by Dontnot Entertainment) Call of Cthulhu was created on the Unreal Engine 4 and is a survival horror RPG. The gameplay is first person but the cut scenes break from the first person gameplay to show your character and his interactions with others around him.

You play as Edward Pierce, a WWI veteran who is obviously having personal issues after coming home from the war. He is a private detective and is known around town for drowning his sorrows in alcohol. One day, after a horrific nightmare that happens more and more often, a man comes to your office asking you to look in on what seems to be an open/shut case of a woman who went mad and lit her home on fire in a murder/suicide.

That man is her father and the woman is Sarah Hawkins. He believes there is more to her death because she was a talented painter who had visions but she wasn’t crazy. He hires you to go to Darkwater Island in the Northeast to her estate and find out the truth. When you arrive, you pull the thread that begins to unravel a tale of death, worship, monsters and magic.

Image courtesy of Cyanide/Focus Home Interactive

Call of Cthulhu is wild. First and foremost, while the character animation is alright (I have seen better in games on the same engine) the environment that Cyanide has created here is magnificent. It’s dark and shrouded and even the lighting of the lamps cast a sickly green glow over the town instead of the warm light of an oil lamp.

The town is being overcome by something it doesn’t understand but it isn’t thrown at you all at once. You truly have to investigate. Your decisions matter and there are several endings to this story. Even the things you do while investigating (and not just conversation paths) will determine what your fate and the fate of the world is by the end of the game.

Image courtesy of Cyanide/Focus Home Interactive

There are fourteen chapters in total and my biggest complaint about this game is its length. These chapters go by fast. There are several puzzles in the game that can get you stuck and you may spend a long time on them, but once you have figured out those 3 or 4 difficult puzzles, the game zooms by.

While the replay ability is high, once those puzzles are explained, it won’t take long at all to get through fourteen chapters to find a different ending. The psychology element is strong with this one and you never know what is real and what is in Edward’s head or what you are seeing through magical intervention.

The gore is minimal and the scares aren’t excessive if you even get scared at all but the atmosphere is tense and you never know what to expect next. Plus, it’s all just so beautiful.

Somehow, they have made this dirty, struggling, cult infested fishing town into something stunning. In terms of gameplay, you are giving a small amount of skill points and you choose where to put them. After the first part of the game, you are no longer able to add points to the medical or occultism branches and you will have to find and collect books or symbols to increase those skills.

Other skills like psychology, investigative, strength, eloquence and your ability to spot hidden objects can all be increased with skill points. Skill points are earned fairly quickly, so I had no trouble obtaining them. It was putting them in the correct skill docket that I would need later that was the problem.

Image courtesy of Cyanide/ Focus Home Interactive

The story is incredibly engaging. From the moment it started, whether it was the story or the graphics, I was completely hooked until the very end. While I would have benefited from more knowledge of the Lovecraftian world, it did not hinder the enjoyment I had from playing this game. Even though the game is named directly after the 1928 short story, it was made to follow more closely to the pen and paper game by Chaosium in the 80’s, also by the same name.

Call of Cthulhu releases today, just in time for Halloween and what a great way to spend the holiday: scaring the hell out of yourself while trying to avoid awakening the Great Dreamer from his deathlike sleep. The controls are pretty easy to get a handle on and it focuses on stealth and very little combat but only for short periods time.

Next. The Walking Dead: The Final Season will be finished by Skybound Games. dark

This is truly a survival RPG, focusing more on the story than on offensive/defensive play. It’s practically a narrative game but it is SO much fun. It’s heading to PS4, Xbox One and PC, so snag your copy because even if you aren’t versed in the ways of H.P. Lovecraft, the Call of Cthulhu will definitely catch you and you will be powerless against it.

Will you heed the Call of Cthulhu? Let us know what you think in the comments section below.