If you are a fan of horror movies, you must have heard of H.P. Lovecraft. Although some consider him to be among the pioneers of the genre, he is still one of the best horror writers out there. In fact, you will find a whole lot of authors that admire and idolize him. The Call of Cthulhu, one of his classics, served as an inspiration for Focus Home Interactive and Cyanide to create a video game.
There is still a lot of work to be done in the game, but its release is expected towards the end of 2017 for PC, Xbox One and PlayStation 4. In the meantime, we got our hands on an early alpha version and saw what The Call of Cthulhu Is all about.
The Call of Cthulhu Demo Scared the Hell Out of Me
H.P. Lovecraft knows how to bring the horror atmosphere to anyone reading his novels, and it’s not an easy task to transfer that kind of experience to a screen. The Call of Cthulhu demo trailer we watched starts on Darkwater, a fictional island where the secluded Hawkins Mansion is located. Not much passes and we can see Edward Pierce, a private detective who investigates what seems to be another usual case.
The atmosphere draws you in from the second the trailer starts. You take a look at the creepy manor from the outside only to be terrified by the crows that make an obnoxious noise as they fly right in front of you (the jumpscare worked on me, unfortunately). You go exploring the outskirts of the mansion when you come across the graveyard.
Can You Survive the Terrifying Manor?
The Call of Cthulhu is a horror game, but it essentially belongs to the survival genre with some RPG elements. Those come into play while you explore the graves of the Hawkins family because you need investigation points to do that. The first unusual thing you notice is that the flowers are on everyone’s tombs except on the one that belongs to the head of the family.
The graphics and the color palette considerably contribute to the horror atmosphere. As you finish the exploration of the grave, the road leads you to the mansion back door. Before you enter, you have your first encounter with one of the residents; the groundskeeper comes to say hi, and he does that with an axe in his hand.
Can You Talk Your Way Out of Trouble in The Call of Cthulhu?
The first conversation introduces you to the dialogue system that you might recognize from Bethesda’s games. There are different dialogue options that demand various skills – you can intimidate the person you are talking to, persuade them to do something or simply do some small talk. Depending on that, your relationship with that character will be either positive or negative. Each response you provide and question you ask influences the outcome, which means that you need to choose carefully.
In case you didn’t know, The Call of Cthulhu is, besides being a novel, also a role-playing game. All the skills Edward Pierce are taken directly from the rulebook of that game. That is done for a reason because this is an official video game of The Call of Cthulhu and it aims to resemble everything important to the book/RPG faithfully.
Connect the Dots and Use Your Detective Skills
The demo shows how to use your skills properly. You take the ax out of his hand’s thanks to some intimidation and then manage to convince him to let you in with your investigative abilities. You properly connected the flowers on the graves to him, and he was apparently touched by that, so he let you in.
However, we were told that the outcome could have been different which would lead to Pierce searching for an alternative way to get into the manor. That means The Call of Cthulhu is a dynamic game, which adds to its replayability and emphasizes the importance of your choices. The developers convinced us that the best way is to convince the groundskeeper to unlock because otherwise, you might risk Pierce’s health or even sanity.
The Call of Cthulhu Crime Scene
Once you get in the mansion, you notice that the room where the family died completely burned down in the fire. You don’t believe in the official explanation that it was an accident and you use your skills to investigate. I assume that other crime scenes aren’t exactly a visual treat, but this one is quite freaky.
As you explore the room, you will see young son’s ashes, a bunch of broken clocks and overturned furniture. The Call of Cthulhu requires you to carefully collect all the clues before comparing them to the police report. You should try to find the things that don’t match. If you don’t, it’s not the end of the world (yet), but you will be off the main path of the case and sliding down into insanity will be much more likely.
Knowledge is Power in The Call of Cthulhu…Or Is It Not?
The final trailer for The Call of Cthulhu featured an art gallery. That was apparently a part of the game a bit further from the start, but we didn’t mind. Pierce’s task is to find a monster hidden in one of the paintings. We already mentioned the possibility of our protagonist going mad, but here’s how it works.
The game has a so-called sanity system. While you need to know a lot about the in-game world to complete the investigation, with knowledge comes great burden. Some information is not meant for humans, and if you discover them, you risk going insane. The burden of knowledge will cause Pierce to experience hallucinations that are vivid, violent and scary at the same time. As your sanity level decreases, you will have fewer dialogue options at your disposal until the moment you won’t know the difference between reality and fiction.
The Cool Graphics and Homage to Lovecraft
The visual experience in The Call of Cthulhu is fantastic, and all animations and scenery are incredibly detailed. If you know Lovecraft’s work, you will notice that there are items that pay the honor to one of the greatest horror authors ever, such as ceremonial daggers or fish-people statues.
Let’s return to the trailer. The moment you are in front of the right picture, you will know it. A massive beast with his mouth wide open will cause you goose bumps, but you are in for a much bigger thrill. In a not-so-surprising twist, the monster ripples the painting and comes out to attack you. Pierce makes the only logical decision to run away.
Violence Isn’t the Solution
Although being a survival horror game, The Call of Cthulhu sends a message that violence isn’t the solution but merely a desperate measure. Yes, you can grab a dagger and lightly hurt a monster, but it didn’t seem that you can kill him at any given moment. Instead, you choose the cowardly option and hide in a closet (hey, it’s a monster, whatever you have to do to survive).
At that moment, you find out another problem you need to solve – claustrophobia. As you hide in the closet, you notice that Pierce’s heart rate will go through the roof. You can’t let your hero suffer a heart attack and die on the spot (and in the closet while hiding), so you need to make sure you don’t spend too much time in there. Oh, and just so you know, claustrophobia isn’t the only phobia Pierce has and he can develop new ones as you play.
Being Smart Is the Way to Go in The Call of Cthulhu…
Killing the beast from the image requires a creative solution. You will hide in the closet until the monster just passes and then come out chasing towards the painting. Grabbing the dagger from the exhibits in the gallery and stabbing the painting should be enough for killing the creature. Or at least that’s what we thought. Stabbing the painting doesn’t seem to work, and the monster comes towards you with its huge mouth opened. Alas, that is where the trailer ends.
The Call of Cthulhu Things You Need to Know
The Call of Cthulhu will last for about 20 hours, and there is more than one possible ending in the game. According to the developers, at the moment there are four endings, and not a single one is happy. Knowing Lovecraft’s work that is precisely the way things should unfold. You can only hope that you will manage to keep Pierce alive through the entire game.
Although the demo of The Call of Cthulhu only showed small portions of the game, it is shaping up to be a great release for all the lovers of survival horror genre out there, along with Death Stranding and Outlast 2. I believe that there is no doubt that you will also love it if you are a fan of the master of horror H.P. Lovecraft. At the very end, the bad news is that the game doesn’t have an exact release date, but the developers want to release it by the end of 2017.