Anyone who knows me is aware that growing up I had two big loves, Video Games and Role Playing Games. The groups I used to play with would mostly play Dungeons and Dragons but would occasionally spread out into other table top adventures like Vampire, Robotech, Cyberpunk and of course the Lovecraftian madness that was “Call of Cthulhu”. The occult darkness of the RPG would really capture the imaginations of our group and in particular the game master who would need to be an amazing story teller to really get the most out of it. I was lucky to have a few who were outstanding.
The video game released this year that carries the “Call of Cthulhu” name is a fantastic example of what you could get from the RPG as the story telling sucks you into the world right from the start.
The story starts as your character (Edward Pierce) is awoken from a nightmare to a knock on his door. To say it’s like something out of an old school detective novel is an understatement, and thats what makes this game so great. It’s not about “running and gunning”, it’s a true first person RPG where as you upgrade certain stats you’ll have new ways to deal with the multitude of situations that come your way. There are usually a few paths to succeed in any story point and some actions will have dire consequences later in the game, like the first realy decision you make, to take a drink of whiskey from your draw.. or to not.
The combat in the game feels a bit out if place and is limited to simple clicks. I think I would have been just as happy playing the game through with no combat at all. However the fear that is created through those experiences and the stealth missions is very real and at times the creature jump scares will catch you off guard the way a good horror story should.
I could talk about graphics, and they are pretty good but the true power of the Cthulhu game is in the audio. This needs to be played at a high volume or wearing headphones. The atmosphere reeks of suspenseful music and the hollow wind that has a sense of evil to it. There’s a scene right at the start where you awake in a truely horrific area, the sounds you hear are just the most perfect way to capture the environment.
“Call of Cthulhu” is a brilliantly dark story that is a journey through madness. It’s classic horror feel shows the influence that the stories of H.P Lovecraft has had on modern cinema horror and creature films and add to that the detective story it feels very much from the pages of something like “Hellblazer”. The RPG mechanics are good enough but I did find the length of the game to fall just a little short. The good news is it has great replay value as you can start again and make different choices. The more you play, the madder you can make it. The game is a wonderful trip down memory lane as well as a great single player adventure that we don’t see enough of these days.