Call of Cthulhu Review – Afraid of the Light

Cyanide Studios brings us Call of Cthulhu, a new version based on the classic role playing game based on the works of H.P.Lovecraft. Where would we be if we didn’t have things to base new stuff on? Time to set everything up and play with the lights on, definitely hoping that the atmosphere is good. Just need to pop into my time machine.

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Edward Pierce in all his glory. The true hero is you of course.

Gameplay

Call of Cthulhu is set in 1924 when everything is a bit more basic. No advanced technology to get to grips with, just an old lighter to help you see. There is a mystery to be solved, and you are just the man for the job. Well being a private investigator it would fall easily within your remit. You start in your office looking around. It seems you are not a very good detective really and about to lose your funding. If only a big case would come along. Well I say you’re not very good, it’s more a case of substance abuse and nightmares that are dominating your life, so that’s holding you back somewhat.

A big case comes along. It’s like fate, nay, it is fate.

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An officer of the law, he’s going to be of immense help I hope.

A creepy man pays you a visit and explains all about his dead daughter. He doesn’t think the deaths of her and her family are as clear cut as the police investigation says. He presents you with a painting that seems to support his case. Time to pack your Scooby Snacks and hop into the mystery machine, you’re going on an adventure.

Controls are the basic left stick moves and right stick looks combo. Objects that you can interact with are highlighted, a little too far away sometimes, but that’s fine with me. You have a light source, a much needed light source at that. You can duck and interact with the scenery, such as ladders to get to higher or lower places. In general Call of Cthulhu doesn’t offer anything new in this department. However, when it comes to the story line Call of Cthulhu packs it’s punches. There is a whole load of source material for this adventure and whilst some of it is predictable, there are more than a few elements to keep you on your toes. The better you do, the more points you get to level up your skills. Being a better detective will always help in the long run. This is not going to be a walk in the park, don’t get carried away by the easier early chapters that walk you through the levels well so you hone your skills. The further you get in, the trickier it gets. For my mind, there are maybe a few too many clues, and maybe not every puzzle has one solution. The story is intriguing, and leaves you with a wanting to know what’s going to happen next. This is executed by a good script and a clever plotline. I am not going to give too much away. Just make the assumption that not everything is going to go to plan.

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So many choices, this is driving me more mad than the plot.

Whilst Call of Cthulhu plays on the darkness aspect, the mental darkness was played out well, but the physical darkness was a bit over the top. The lantern does not illuminate anywhere near realistic enough, though the lighter is pretty accurate. I couldn’t find my way out of a cave because I couldn’t see where I was going. realistically with a lantern I should have just strolled out. This was very frustrating. Returning to the mental darkness, do try to not lose your mind, keep a close eye on your sanity, and pray that the beasts that haunt you will not find you in your dreams. Just so that you know.

All clues and people along the way are noted down so you don’t have to remember everything, and it is all arranged for quick and easy access. Obviously you are not the smartest character in gaming history as well, some automated decisions are most certainly not what I would have done in the same situation. Something akin to running upstairs in a horror movie.

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Why are the lights all green. How has no one noticed?

Graphics

Call of Cthulhu needs to lighten up a bit. Why do these adventures never happen during the day? Why are asylums always dark and dank? Everything is a little cliché to be honest. Dark mansions, creepy asylums, dark caves etc…strange green light coming from the lamps. The weirdest part is that no one seems to notice that. From an aesthetic point of view the job is done, the mood created is perfect, but playability is overly compromised.  The characters are distinguishable, but lacking somewhat in realism, not the quality I was expecting, but they do the job.

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I think it’s time to get going. Preferable to somewhere safe, maybe a friendly tavern.

Audio

In Call of Cthulhu everything seems to just be heightened. Your footsteps, your breathing, any noise really. This really adds to the atmosphere and sense of panic. Voices are well acted out and again, these make the story play out extremely well. Cyanide Studios have put a lot of work on the feel of Call of Cthulhu and have done a great job. Maybe a bit of variety in speech when trying to do the same thing twice would have been good.

Conclusion

Call of Cthulhu is a game of hit and miss, fortunately more hits than misses. The story unfolds well with various twists and turns along the way. The atmosphere is very good and gives a real feel for working with minimal equipment. There is a lot to think about along the way to hold your interest. I personally would have liked to seen a bit more initiative required from the player rather than most problems pre solved by looking at something. Sometimes I didn’t feel like I was playing a game, just getting around and reading stuff. The graphics were not up to scratch really, the scenery was good, if a bit dark, but the characters were poor by today’s standards. In a nutshell, I liked Call of Cthulhu, it kept me engaged and I think it will be replayable again working of different attributes to change my style of detective work.

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The rogue’s gallery. Whosoever did the crime will definitely do the time. Occupation ‘painter’? Insulting artists all over the world.

Call of Cthulhu is like an underbaked cake, it still tastes good, but the physical presentation needs some work. With a few more character points in this department the playing experience would have been significantly elevated, and silver would have become gold. I look forward to the next adventure with baited breath.

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Disclaimer: We received a code to carry out this review. It was delivered upon the back of a large sea creature who insisted on a gold award. Alas, the cultists don’t know who they are meddling with.

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