Call of Cthulhu Review

The developers Cyanide have brought us a re-imaging of the classic tabletop game Call of Cthulhu just in time for Halloween. Promising a deeply immersive narrative experience to bring to life the core elements of the popular tabletop. The question is were they successful in adapting the game? Scroll down to find out.

Synopsis

Call of Cthulhu, the official videogame inspired by Chaosium’s classic pen and paper RPG, brings you deep into a world of creeping madness and shrouded Old Gods within Lovecraft’s iconic universe.

In 1924, Private Investigator Pierce is sent to look into the tragic death of the Hawkins family on the isolated Darkwater Island. Soon enough, Pierce is pulled into a terrifying world of conspiracies, cultists, and cosmic horrors.

Nothing is as it seems. Sanity is an irregular bedfellow, all too often replaced by whisperings in the dark. Strange creatures, weird science, and sinister cults dominate the Cthulhu Mythos, intent on realizing their mad schemes to bring about the end of everything.

Your mind will suffer – between sanity and psychosis, your senses will be disrupted until you question the reality of everything around you. Trust no one. Slinking shadows hide lurking figures… and all the while, the Great Dreamer prepares for his awakening.

Gameplay

There are a few elements that make up the gameplay which end up going against each other.

The stealth mechanics which are used for a large portion of the game (around 45% depending on the choices that you make) they are very bare bones and either work well or playing out just awful. There are missions that you run into where the stealth mechanics are done right due to the mechanic complimenting the layout of the level. Then there are missions where the stealth is overly tedious and relies on you to hide in closest rather than sneak and peak around corners.

Now the hiding in closest mechanic is a big disappointment. Your character Edward Pierce seems to have a form of claustrophobia that increases over the course of time. Since he has that when he goes into tight spaces the screen has a black outline with a green tint that starts to cause the camera to get smaller accompanied with a heartbeat and him panicking. In theory it sounds like a great idea, but it just makes things tedious especially the dark rooms since you can’t see anything what so ever as soon as he starts pan-icing (which takes around 5-7 seconds). A particular level when you have to hide and find a dagger there is a pathing bug that hinders the player’s action where if you are spotted by the entity and you manage to evade it by hiding it will stay right in front of the closest and then instant kills you when you are forced to leave the closest.

The other mechanic that plays a large role in the game is the investigation mechanic where you have taken the time to look through your environment and get as much information as possible since this drastically changes the gameplay for your character (whether its driving him insane or keeping him sane). This mechanic is done quite well in the sense of adding that mystery/detective feel to the game. The next mechanic is the reconstruction mechanic which allows you to reconstruct the scene of certain key events throughout the game (the information you find is all based on how you built your character and how well you leveled your abilities). The way it is done really helps the player overlook some of the faults that you run into during these scenes.

Soundtrack

The soundtrack for the most part added a nice chilling effect to the scene but when it didn’t it would take the player out of the immersion. There are times when the music would actually ruin the mood because it was either to loud or it was just plain miss-placed. I found moments where I was really into the interesting plot just for it to be ruined by music that either fit the scene before or doesn’t fit until the next scene.

Writing

The writing is inconsistent from beginning to end (the story is around 12 hours). There are moments when the writing is just shy of brilliant but then more moments where the player will ask themselves “Really?”. If it was not for clichés, then it just was poor executions on plots that had elements that were just amazing. It felt like there wasn’t one writer but more like a few writers all with their own ideas on how they want the plot to play out but they forgot to tell each other so they could make a smooth transition from one idea to the next.

There are even moments when the writing contradicts itself which ends up confusing the player. Then there are more characters who seemed like they were important only for you to find out that they were just plot devices. This sadly caused the writing to be one of the weakest points in the whole game which is a shame since there are so many times where fragments of plots were AMAZING. Other than those fragments the writing was just okay since 90% of the time it gets drowned out by the beautifully disturbing atmosphere. Which is a real shame since this game is so story driven.

Voice Acting

The voice acting for the most part was just bad. You either got voice actors who were trying to hard to express emotion or actors who just did the bare minimum. There were only a hand full of times when the voice acting really fit the scene. It almost seemed like a portion of the actors didn’t really care about the material they just wanted to read lines and move on.

Characters

The game does a good job at INTRODUCING characters but beyond that it really depends on if the character is important to the plot or not.

If the character is a plot tool then the devs do enough of a job of giving a character their own personality and a reason for it. Other characters that aren’t exactly tools get somewhat of good attention to detail but not enough for them to be memorable. Even the main character pierce is done well but not well at the same time. For the first half of the game he written very well to where you feel the struggle of his character and the change over the course of the game to his personality. Then you get near the end of the game and he just becomes a cliché for horror games where his personality just is gone and uniqueness dries out. It’s actually rather challenging to even feel for any other character but Pierce. At first there were so many but then by chapter 14 you end up just not caring about anyone (Maybe pierce).

Replay-ability

The game was meant for the player to experience the game in at least two playthroughs. Sadly the gameplay mechanics make it hard to want to do the game a second time since there’s a chance you’d have to encounter more of the weakest part of the game (the stealth mechanics). Sad thing is that the first playthrough leaves you with questions (which supposedly gets answered in another playthrough) but the game leaves a taste that contradicts the interest of hoping for an ending that makes sense or feels like it was worth the 10-12 hour play through.

Atmosphere

This is literally the saving grace of the game. The developers craft such a disturbing world that doesn’t rely on cheap jump scares but truly is just terrifying in its own way. This world will make any player overlook most of the problems this game has for it (there are many, not to many game breaking ones but many annoying ones). The world that pierce is being introduced in is completely intriguing and even mesmerizing for the player. The mix of cool dark colors, the grim lighting in the right places, the tease of creatures and light amounts of gore. It all works out quite well. It’s the only consistent element of the game. Boy is it one that deserves to be seen by any horror fan. It’s to good for the rest of the game.

The Good

– The atmosphere is utterly chilling and perfect. One of the best atmospheres in a horror game I have ever played. (I’ve played a lot since the 90s).

– The lore behind the creature is interesting and unique. It is handled in a professional way (for the most part).

– The character skill system really affects the gameplay since it will unlock how your character will interact with the environment and even characters.

– Minor crashing (which happened 2 times in 12 hour playthrough).

– The Leviathan. (those that try the game will understand).

– The unique take on paintings and how they fit into supernatural based rituals.

– The lighting in non stealth based missions is perfect (for stealth missions it really varies).

– The reconstruction function adds fun to examining crime scenes. It all depends on how you build Pierce.

The Bad

– The voice acting for the most part is just plain bad. If the actors aren’t trying to hard, they aren’t trying enough. On rare occasions the voice acting feels right.

– The stealth mechanics make or a break a level. To where it becomes overly tedious (not due to it being challenging, but because it was poorly implanted for that specific mission).

– The audio on voices seem unbalanced varying by lines of dialogue. Where moments the characters are talking normal next it seems like a character is shouting then they aren’t.

– The soundtrack has moments where it ruins the immersion due to it being placed for something that’s going to come or something that has already happened. It even drains out some important audio cues during key missions.

– The way they mishandled a large portion of the characters makes them feel like plot tools rather than characters that I should feel for. They try to make you feel for certain characters but then just stop building on that emotion randomly just to force them into the main plot. Causes all that build to care for the character to just disappear.

– 2/4 of the endings are just plain disappointing to where they don’t feel complete, just feels like a waste of time since the writers make it seem like they just want to throw in another cliché then call it a day. There didn’t answer around 75% of the questions that the player would have by the end. Nor do they dive into the parts of the lore that would make sense.

– The twists that do occur during the game are either unrealistic to the setup the writers gave us or they were just bad twists that didn’t really change the circumstances for the plot.

Final Verdict

The game doesn’t live up to the hype and it feels rushed. The best part of the game is the atmosphere which is just simply breathtaking and its a shame that the rest of the game is so poorly executed. It has some good about it like most games but the bad just really outweigh the good. This game needed more time in the oven to be cooked because it really could have been the next big horror hit.

If you’re looking to check out Call of Cthulhu, it’s currently available on the PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC through Steam.

Good

  • Beautifully Disturbing Atmosphere
  • Smooth Noir Elements
  • Minimal Crashing
  • Unique Ideas

Bad

  • Inconsistent Writing
  • Terrible Voice Acting
  • Bare Bones Stealth Mechanics
  • Felt Rushed in Many Parts of the Game
  • Overall Execution for the Game is Poor
6.7

Fair

Gameplay - 6.4
Soundtrack - 7.1
Atmosphere - 10
Characters - 6.6
Voice Acting - 4.3
Replayability - 6.3
Writing/Story - 6.1
PR Manager for geekisphere.
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