Call of Cthulhu is a video game with the taste of tabletop. Developed by Cyanide and published by Focus Home Interactive, the Call of Cthulhu video game brings a new sense of horror to the PS4, Xbox One, and PC.
Call Of Cthulhu: The Story Basics
Call of Cthulhu starts off in the traditional sense. You play as Edward Pierce, an alcoholic World War I veteran turned private investigator. You are hired to investigate the suspicious deaths of the members of the Hawkins family on Darkwater Island.
This is when things start to get very peculiar, as the island itself is in a massive economic decline with signs of a criminal smuggling ring. The superstitions of the locals paired with this criminal element seem to impede your investigation.
The whole first act of Call of Cthulhu is built on the idea of secrets and luring you in towards the greater mystery surrounding the deaths of the Hawkins family and what is really going on in Darkwater Island.
Call of Cthulhu: The Gameplay
The control scheme is not as liberal as I would like for a first person exploratory game and the controls can come across as a bit clunky, but these limitations create a sense of urgency around every action a player makes. When you’re not as limber as you would like to be in a horror game, you always have to be on edge.
Although the graphics may not be the strongest element of this game, there is a certain brilliance to working within the limitations of being a smaller development company. The elements that they do focus on only add to the atmosphere of the game. Sure, the official definition of every NPC is not the greatest but they stick to a limited gritty style, which only highlights the sense of the genre with its images of degradation and decay.
When they do add large amounts of detail, it’s usually to important elements of the game – particularly parts of the mythos or obstacles you have to overcome. This all adds to a very tense but engaging sense of play.
The sound track as well as the ambient effects are as close to perfect as you could possibly get within the genre, and that depth of audio intentionality is required to heighten the intensity of every moment.
The most intriguing element of this game is the marriage of a video game and the mechanics of the Call of Cthulhu tabletop role-playing game. Cyanide does this in a more minimalist sense, but I believe for the fluidity of the game as well as the introduction to new players this is incredibly important.
The developers have reduced the vast quantity of character build options into the key areas that Edward Pierce would require to be an investigator. All of these areas are also percentage-based, which is a great throw back to the original game.
Call of Cthulhu: The Verdict
The Call of Cthulhu video game by Cyanide is a well made dive into the Cthulhu mythos marrying both the ease and playability of a modern video game and the well-developed system of the decades old tabletop RPG.
For someone like myself who has played and reviewed the Call of Cthulhu system (click here for part one of the Fortunes Untold podcast review!), I think the video game is a wonderful mashup of the two mediums – with just the right amount of insight and passion evident for both. The result is a game which will enthrall the oldest fans and then newest players.
If you find yourself with the urge to experience the twisted world of HP Lovecraft and are feeling a bit brave, give Call of Cthulhu a shot on your system of choice. Maybe, just maybe, your sanity will remain intact just long enough to finish it out.