Review: Call of Cthulhu
Twisted sect members, dark locations and monsters that exceed the imagination of people. A handful of horrors that you may encounter in Call of Cthulhu, a game inspired by the short story of H.P. Lovecraft, one of the founders of the horror genre.
Call of Cthulhu follows the story of Edward Pierce, a veteran who decides after the First World War to use his skills as a private detective. But excessive alcohol consumption and a gritty lack of new business, despite the fact that there are plenty of opportunities in the home city of Boston, cause him to come under pressure from his employer. Luckily for Pierce, the tide seems to be turning by a case he is being offered by a wealthy industrialist. He wants Pierce to investigate the death of his daughter Sarah Hawkins, who died in a fire with her husband and child. The police claim that it was an accident, but the industrialist does not want to know anything about it and is sure that more is playing.
Edward Pierce of course takes the case and leaves for Darkwater Island, a small fishing island just off the coast of Boston. Upon arrival it soon becomes clear that decayed glory is an understatement for the island. The only thing left in the port is a number of derelict buildings, including a bar and a warehouse, and a lot of grumpy, unemployed fishermen. The only people who still make a profit on the island are alcohol smugglers and the bartender, who has a large number of regular customers.
After researching the warehouse, owned by Sarah’s husband, and the villa of the Hawkins family, Pierce finds out that Sarah’s stubborn father is right. Not only does the fire appear to have been deliberately lit, but there appears to be a sect hidden on the island that worships an ancient, alien god. Pierce’s research has changed into a matter that controls the fate of the entire island.
Call of Cthulhu is primarily a detective game, where the research of environments and the solving of puzzles is central, but gradually more and more genres are involved. That makes Call of Cthulhu an interesting game, where you never know what to expect at the beginning of a level. So at the one moment you are investigating a crime scene and you keep your eyes open for hidden objects and the other moment you have to escape from an institution that has dark practices.
Moreover, Pierce’s mental state plays a major role later in the later phases of the game. That is no surprise either because of the horrors that the private detective comes face to face, such as people who are torn apart, supernatural beings and diabolical visions. In addition, Pierce has already suffered a few phobias in the war and, for example, he can not hide in a closet for too long because of claustrophobia.
In almost all situations, the skills you choose to upgrade, such as physical strength or cracking locks, are of great importance and determine what actions you can take to progress further into the level. For example, there are several ways to divert guards, but some ways are not possible if a skill has too low a level. And even if you have the right specifications, it is often difficult to solve.
Unfortunately, there are some inconsistencies in Call of Cthulhu. So it is very strange that a war veteran can not beat a simple guard unconscious to save his own life. And even in the graphics area the game fluctuates between beautiful areas and detailless houses and rocks.
Pros and cons
+ Interesting mix between different genres
+ Exciting story
+ Fear play a big role
+ Several puzzles that make your brain crack
– Strange and inconsistent choices regarding Pierce
– In terms of graphics, it fluctuates back and forth
Yet Call of Cthulhu does his source of inspiration with a story where the tension rises high and is sometimes played with the mental health of the player. The gameplay also completes the story by mixing different genres, where one moment you try to overcome an obstacle and the other moment has to run for your life. Unfortunately, the game has a few mistakes and inconsistencies, but that should not spoil the fun for fans of horror games or lovers of Lovecraft’s work.