Disjointed Gameplay Mixed With An Amazing Atmosphere
Inspired by the board game of the same name, Call Of Cthulhu blends mystery, adventure and puzzling into an engrossing story, one that’s consistently let down by disjointed gameplay elements and a few bugs and glitches. There’s a really interesting story at the heart of Call Of Cthulhu though and it’s here where the game really shines. The mysterious town of Blackwater is shrouded in an air of uneasiness and when it comes to atmospheric horror, Call Of Cthulhu does an excellent job setting the tone and mood for the game to follow. Unfortunately, frustrating gameplay elements and questionable design choices let the game down from being a better title than it is.
The story sees you take control of Edward Pierce, a grizzled war veteran and private detective looking for his next case. He doesn’t have to wait long though as a mysterious stranger presents him with the case of a woman called Sarah Hawkings. What follows is a journey to an island in the Pacific, home to the town of Blackwater, a place full of secrets and inhabited by shady characters at every turn. Split across 14 chapters, the game sees you slowly unravel what happened to this young lady, all whilst mixing Lovecraftian horror and constantly evolving gameplay mechanics in the process.
The town of Blackwater is eerie, atmospheric and full of shady characters
When it comes to the general aesthetic and design of the game, Call Of Cthulhu does an excellent job with its atmosphere. From the chilling green lights and claustrophobic corridors to the mysterious people you meet along the way, every chapter of the game helps you feel immersed in this supernatural story. Admittedly, some of the graphics do feel a little dated and the character models, especially late on during cut scenes, feel a little stiff and jarring. It’s also worth mentioning too that the game does feature a slew of glitches and bugs. These vary from character models popping in and out of view, graphical glitches and sound not quite syncing to the action on-screen.
Most of the time spent playing Call Of Cthulhu sees you walking around, exploring the various locations and piecing together clues to find out what happened to Sarah Hawkings. Along the way you’ll meet a whole host of characters and engage in conversations with people featuring various dialogue options. More choices are unlocked as you pick up clues with bonus options available depending on where you spend your character points.
Numerous dialogue options open up allowing for varied conversations with characters
In a nod to the board game, Call Of Cthulhu features a Character point system with points generously awarded for completing chapters, uncovering secrets and successfully completing certain tasks. These in turn can be used to level up various skills that help you along the way. The Investigative skill helps with your investigation, making it easier to piece together clues and find them in the environment. Eloquence helps with persuasion in key conversations while Strength makes you more menacing and makes environmental puzzles easier to complete.
All of this is helped along by two other skills that can only be levelled up by completing specific tasks in the game. Occultism sees you diving headfirst into the Cthulhu mythos, reading books and examining statues to grow your awareness of the sea god. The Medicine skill sees you reading various books dotted around the levels to grow your knowledge on medicinal abilities.
Clues dotted around the environments help piece together what’s happened to Sarah Hawkings
Each chapter peppers in light puzzling elements too although this is by far the most frustrating part of the game. While studying various clues and using trial and error helps with completing most puzzles, the game makes no effort to help guide you in how to complete each objective. From turning a globe to a very specific point to finding the right dagger to banish a beast, almost every puzzle is made needlessly convoluted, taking some of the enjoyment out of the game.
As an adventure game, Call Of Cthulhu excels and when it focuses on letting you walk around, piecing together clues and engaging in the easier puzzles, the game is very impressive indeed. Unfortunately, Call Of Cthulhu’s incessant need to mix up the gameplay takes away from the enjoyment. The stealth segments are lacklustre, the shooting toward the end of the game is woeful and the various switches to different characters only hurt, rather than help, the pacing of the game.
The general aesthetic of the game is generally very good
For all of its flaws, Call Of Cthulhu is an enjoyable Lovecraftian game. While the various gameplay elements don’t always work harmoniously, the story and overall aesthetic shines. There’s glimmers of brilliance here but its consistently let down by questionable design choices that take away from the overall appeal of the game. If you’re a fan of good stories full of mystery and adventure, Call Of Cthulhu is worth checking out but at full retail cost, the game just does not have enough going for it to make it worth the investment.