With Call of Cthulhu, developer Cyanide has set out to draw gamers into a frightening horror tale of famed writer H.P. Lovecraft. While this supernatural interactive approach does lend itself well in many cases, ultimately what you discovered under the surface is a satisfying and entertaining detective tale, with far less scare than advertised.
Call of Cthulhu follows the investigative efforts of Edward Pierce, a war veteran turned detective who from the outset you learn suffers from an existential crisis. Unfortunately for Pierce there is a shortage of cases to work causing our protagonist to resort to the bottle for comfort. However, with a shimmer of hope Pierce is employed to investigate an old case left relatively unsolved. The case of the Hawkins family and their untimely death.
Arriving at Darkwater Island, where the game takes shape is depicted somewhere near Boston, Massachusetts. Off the boat and off you go from one investigative discovery to the next. Darkwater Island is a dreary location with it inhabitants who are far from hostile, yet as you continue down this rabbit hole of clues the early island pleasantries are soon forgotten.
Consisting of fishermen, unintelligent law enforcement officers, bootleggers and the like, initially there is a feeling of hopelessness amidst the islands inhabitants, who seem most content reliving the past, which is associated with what is known as ‘The Great Catch’. I will let you discover its meaning on your own.
The Call of Cthulhu is layered with impressive detection analysis features. From interviewing potential suspects which is supported with courses of narrative points as options of truth via the games attractive skill tree and engaging voice acting, to metaphysically breaking down a crime-scene.
Similar to the likes of Detroit Become Human, with a more simple approach to discovering the truth, Pierce has the ability to visit a crime-scene and supernaturally analyze the events leading to important clues which move the story forward. Upon utilizing the mastery of persuasion while interviewing NPC’s, coupled with the profound new discoveries of retracing key events, the game keeps you glued to the screen. Moving the narrative forward, players are also introduced to brain-teasing puzzles, which always have more than one way of being deciphered. Simply put, the more truth disclosed to Pierce by way of his relentless pursuits, the harder it becomes putting the controller down.
While it has been mentioned that Call of Cthulhu is less scare than its previews may imply, the scare approach taken here seems constructed through the games literature and art. The tone of manuscripts, the weighty impressions of Ms. Hawkins occultic paintings, the mood of the setting, all seems to perfectly compliment the investigative tension of the gameplay.
Where Call of Cthulhu shows its mortality is in its presentation, mainly due to poorly rendered and lazy designed character models and muddy environmental designs. All too often many NPC’s were literally the same exact model. Of course, for the games main characters who played key roles in your encounters and or new discoveries developer Cyanide managed to clearly draw model distinctions. However, there was no escaping stumbling upon he same model at almost every turn. In addition, while the game offered a somewhat option to stealth when trying to evade captures it truly felt half-baked in execution.
For the most part, while dangers does become a real thing throughout this 12 hour journey, players are actually never in direct lines of dangers. Pierce being the investigative nerd that he is, never uses traditional weapons to gain the advantage, instead he utilizes his intellect and clever dexterity to outwit foes and progress to the games end, which may lead our detective into madness. However, that will be for you to decide.
Call of Cthulhu is a paranormal detective experience offering disconcerting, sometimes daunting and incessant engagements of discovery. Even if you never read the Lovecraftian tales, you will certainly appreciate what Cyanide has developed here. Despite the games need for more graphical polish, Call of Cthulhu lands on its feet as one of the years best investigative tales.