REVIEW – This game is one of the disappointments of the year. I know, that’s not the way to start, but I didn’t explain yet why this is the case, and some variety never hurts either. While H. P. Lovecraft isn’t rolling in his grave, Cthulhu should deserve more. Due to the lack of budget, the result is almost describable as „garbage”.
Perhaps Cyanide, the French dev team, should have been better off if they stuck with Styx – whose third game I’d like to see on next-gen -, as it feels that there are several issues with the game. They won’t be easily noticeable at first, but over time, they will be seen in a stronger light, possibly becoming annoying, too.
Let’s start with the fact that the loading times will be quite bothersome. Even the first chapter will require roughly forty seconds the load. I even looked up a YouTube video to confirm my counting, and indeed, 40 seconds will be spent looking at one screen to load. It kicks the ambience into the wrong gear, but let’s get the story out of the way: we’re in 1924, and we’ll control a World War I veteran (suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder) turned private investigator called Edward Pierce who gets an assignment to find out why Sarah Hawkins, an artist, burned to death on the family property. The slow investigation turns into Lovecraft’s work as we investigate around Darkwater Island in Massachusetts.
So far, it all sounds good, and the player might find the experience enjoyable. However – as Pierce will experience it as well – everything turns crazy, and not in a positive way. While we are in a first-person perspective, the gameplay and the easy puzzles will not lift Call of Cthulhu into something that it should be, and the nearly ten-hour game will not be mostly remembered positively. There will also be obligatory stealth sections as well, slowing the gameplay to a halt. These shouldn’t happen.
Call of Cthulhu tries to be an RPG, which – for the most part – is successful – we’ll have a skill tree where six skills (Eloquence, Strength, Psychology, Medicine, Occultism, Investigation) could be levelled up for Pierce, who might be taken for more than one playthrough, as the game has more than one ending, which is a welcome addition to the game.
However, you have to get there first, and, as I wrote a few paragraphs above, you will notice a few things – while the graphics suit the style and the franchise, they are outdated; the lipsyncing is near catastrophic, the animations are weak and stiff for the most part, and maybe the dialogue itself isn’t top-notch either
These are disappointing, as the narrative and the environment are exciting, and this thought is why I believe the game was underfunded. The whole game feels… lacking extra care, and I didn’t even mention the audio yet – the developers have this aspect on the right foot as well! The voice acting and the soundtrack is something we could expect from a Cthulhu game.
The gameplay also has its good moments, especially when Pierce is hallucinating – the pre-release marketing had a good idea of mentioning that we might question our senses when something blinks in for a brief moment, or when we notice something in the background. These are such good moments…
I’m not joking when I say that I’ve been thinking for two days on how to rate Call of Cthulhu. This game is such a missed opportunity which I can’t describe. I’d honestly give it a five out of ten, but the game doesn’t deserve that rating. A six out of ten, however, is a good thought – the unpolished gameplay and the graphics pull it down from the 8/10 heights, as these are the main issues. The story, the ambience, and the audio are all good, complete with references to Lovecraft’s work. These aren’t the problem.
Thus, I can’t say it’s recommended for purchase. If you have played 2006’s Call of Cthulhu: Dark Corners of the Earth, then wait until the 2018 game is lowered to around twenty dollars. If you haven’t played it, buy that old game on Steam for five dollars – it should run on a laptop flawlessly nowadays.
So Cthulhu is the game itself: a monster that is saved from a pathetically low rating via replayability – I’m disappointed in Call of Cthulhu. Focus Home Interactive should have waited until the middle of January to let Cyanide fix the issues in the gameplay, but after the publisher has dated the game for a Halloween launch, it backfired…
+ The story
+ The ambience
+ The environment and the audio
– The gameplay
– The technical presentation
– The loading times…
Publisher: Focus Home Interactive
Genre: Point-and-click, first-person RPG
Release date: October 30, 2018