Succumb to madness: Call of Cthulhu review
Beware of possible minor spoilers.
For March 2020, one of the Games with Gold on Xbox One was Call of Cthulhu.
I, for one, had always been intrigued by it. However, due to many games coming out around the same time and my tendencies to get distracted by new shiny discs, I never played it. Naturally, when I saw it would be free, I knew I had to change that.
Typically, detective games are not my favourites. That’s not to say they are not good per se, more that I cannot mostly take in my surroundings and uncover every detail and clue. But, none of the detective games I’ve played before was inspired by H.P Lovecraft and Cthulhu.
Lovecraftian mythology and literature have always been fascinating to me. Thus, I had more of an incentive to appreciate my surroundings – and I did. Graphically speaking, the game was beautiful and gothic – just what I expected from a game with Cthulhu in the title. It was a strange kind of pleasure to explore my surroundings, not to mention nerve-wracking at times.
Call of Cthulhu was shrouded in atmosphere, from the second you step foot in Darkwater – Edward Pierce will never be the same after being on that island. Speaking of Pierce, the main protagonist is an interesting character. As the game goes on – and given what choices you make – Pierce will lose himself to the madness.
There are four different endings in Call of Cthulhu, so choose your moves wisely. The littlest things can alter Pierce’s fate in this twisted tale. The story itself is good, it certainly had me intrigued from the moment I set foot on the island. It progressed nicely, at a pace that allowed you the time to appreciate your surroundings.
While I may have seen certain twists coming, it would be fair to say that some of it did remain a mystery. To piece it all together, you need to work on Pierce’s attributes – such as his knowledge of the occult and medicine, psychology, strength and investigation. The more proficient Pierce is in an area, the more options there are to proceed through the game. For example, in the Hawking’s mansion, there is a globe puzzle – should you be strong enough you can bypass this puzzle entirely.
The majority of attributes are improved through points. However, medicine and occult knowledge can only be enhanced by finding clues and items throughout the world. To truly understand the madness, find as many occult items as you can. Different conversation options become available depending on what skills you have improved – to find out crucial information, be sure to jack up your investigative trait. To understand those around you, work on psychology.
Or, to hold a conversation, work on the eloquence attribute. It will open up further conversational options.
There are many items to be found in Darkwater, to see them all you need to work on the spot hidden. If it isn’t high enough, secret things will not appear in-game.
The chapters themselves each offer something different, there are many environments to be explored and different ways to further your progress. Not to mention, on occasion, you will be in control of another character – Cat being one of them.
As someone who loves a good boss fight, let me tell you, The Shambler is perhaps the freakiest boss I have encountered for a while – very unique too. In Call of Cthulhu, you tend to run and hide – not a lot of combat until towards the end of the game. The first encounter with The Shambler happens in a gallery, in the dark – a freaky setting for an unsettling foe. The fight features a unique mechanic that can take some time to learn and can certainly take a while to achieve.
The next encounter with The Shambler is just as unnerving as the first and has yet another mechanic. It was interesting to face off with the same boss on two separate occasions in two different ways. Be prepared, how you deal with the final encounter with the creature can have dire consequences.
When it comes to the controls, I have no complaints. Honestly, the game ran smoothly, and the uncomplicated controls helped with that. Ultimately, there is no one main antagonist, rather a series of people that have forged a path for a cult worshipping the Great Old One.
Overall, I would recommend Call of Cthulhu to anyone who is a fan of a gothic setting, investigative games, horror and most importantly – enjoys the work or has an understanding of H.P. Lovecraft. It hooks you in straight away, has an intriguing story that will keep you guessing and enough endings to offer several unique playthroughs. So go on, go and find the cosmic entity…or will you simply go mad.
Also, if you have played The Sinking City but not Cthulhu, then I would also recommend this game as it is a very similar ballpark. Likewise, if you enjoyed this game, then The Sinking City is waiting for you if you dare.