A Refreshing Change….

Review written by Dan Hall

Well, I’ll start off by saying this game was a pleasant surprise. As a fan of narrative driven adventure, horror and mythology – I managed to not find a single thing that I didn’t like about this game. Call of Cthulu drops you straight into what is predominantly a supernatural mystery as a protagonist who is quite likeable and relatable despite being a bit of a cliche in these kinds of games.

So let’s address the games most obvious flaw… Graphically and technically, this game isn’t going to win any awards as the graphical quality seems at times like a high end Xbox 360 game at best. The frame rate can also be a bit stuttery with certain movements (such as rotating on the spot) being quite jarring as the screen struggles to keep up. Despite this though, there is an intriguing supernatural mystery to be unravelled in a game that I can honestly say I enjoyed playing all the way through. The voice acting is pulled off convincingly with each character being believable, if not a little hammed up to fit the time period and region but you will notice that some npc lines are repeated a little too often if you walk past the same area enough. This is more amusing than irritating though due to the afore mentioned hammed up accents.

There are some minor RPG elements here where you get to level your character up in various skills that will ultimately affect the story – be that in the path you take to achieve certain goals or by opening up additional dialogue choices. Ultimately, all roads lead to Rome but the game never tips its hand as to how what you’re doing is going to affect the story or the ending (if at all). This lack of instant gratification from any choices I made kept me intrigued as to what exactly was going to happen as a result of my actions and I found myself being pulled along at a comfortable pace without ever feeling like this game was either too slow or fast.

There are some slight horror elements in here as to be expected from a game based on the Cthulu mythos – and these are delivered in ways that never outstay their welcome. The build up to these moments is done very well through carefully suggesting vague hints at what is yet to come and more often than not – you find your own curiosity pulling you further into the abyss as you explore additional lore at the cost of your characters sanity. This game is the first game in recent memory to actually make me jump out of my skin, and yes… this was as a result of a jump scare, however – it is done so sparingly and naturally that this doesn’t come across as the cheap scare tactic that it tends to be used as nowadays.

The horror aspects tie in nicely with the sanity mechanic. The protagonist is already tormented from past traumas and this is evident from the introduction – how much you plunge into further insanity is somewhat up to the player. There are various tomes in the game to find that will increase your knowledge of the occult – therefore increasing some dialogue options, however reading them will result in a decrease in sanity brought on from the contents of the book. I was warned of this prior to reading each one but found myself unable to resist, my thirst for knowledge pushing me as close to the edge of sanity as I could get without ever actually falling over the edge.

This felt very natural and also put some degree of ownership on me as I found myself feeling like a 6 year old child who had just found the worlds largest chocolate bar. There was no way that reading the books was a good idea, but….. that wasn’t going to stop me! There were times where I actually wondered if my avatar was in fact going insane, and I began to question the reality of the things that I had seen so far. The game plays its cards very close to its chest and this only serves to increase the need to know more as you head even deeper into this mystery.