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Just in time for Halloween, developer Cyanide and publisher Focus Home Interactive teamed up and released “Call of Cthulhu” on October 30th, 2018 for the Xbox One and PlayStation 4. The “interactive” game is based on H.P. Lovecraft’s 1928 short story “The Call of Cthulhu”. Today, I’ll be reviewing the game on the Xbox One as it was a free game for Xbox Gold Members. Warning ahead, there are octopus men in this Call of Cthulhu Review!
Call of Cthulhu Plot:
My Call of Cthulhu review stars private investigator Edward Pierce who has fallen on hard times. He is a functioning alcoholic who drowns his sorrows in whiskey and sleeping pills. Down on his luck and facing expulsion from the agency that he represents, Pierce takes on a mysterious case from the father of a deceased woman.
The man presenting the case claims that his daughter, Sarah Hawkins a renowned painter has been murdered. As it stands, the police say the fire that burned Sarah, her husband, and her son to death was an accident. Pierce travels to the dingy foggy coast town of Darkwater to start his investigation.
Darkwater has been hit hard by the fall of whaling. It served as a hub for whalers in the 1800s, but now in the late 1920s, with the outlawing of whaling, the town has fallen into shambles. Pierce investigates the Hawkins’ mansion discovering numerous signs of cults, devil-worshipping, and signs of tension between Sarah and her husband Charles. Searching the mansion, Pierce discovers tunnels underground that are filled with mangled bodies of whales, sharks, octopuses, and other fish.
Pierce sees a vision of Charles Hawkins as a mutated man with octopus features like tentacles and his face turning red with coral. He then passes out and wakes up in a mental institution under the care of Dr. Fuller. It’s here that Pierce starts to put the pieces together realizing that Sarah Hawkins’ paintings are acting as portals to another dimension. One of the paintings is called “The Shambler”. This monster stalks people who have viewed the painting of it. Pierce manages to escape the institute and discovers that most of the town is in the cult that worships an entity called “Leviathan”.
The Leviathan came to Darkwater after three prominent members of Darkwater killed a large whale and dragged it back to the town to feed everyone. The Leviathan comes in the form of a strange sea creature that is devoured by the cultists giving them visions. Pierce continues to work on the case and discovers that Sarah Hawkins is alive and at the bottom of the mental institute. He breaks in and rescues her from her husband who was hiding her from the cult. The cult wanted to use her for the powers that her paintings have.
All of this nonsense is too much for Pierce to swallow and he starts to show signs of breaking. He sees the Shambler and speaks with the Leviathan. I had options throughout my Call of Cthulhu review on how I wanted to interact with NPCs of the game and my dialogue affects the outcome of the game.
The climax of my Call of Cthulhu review came as the cult is working on summoning a sea monster with Sarah Hawkins behind it. You’ll be able to choose a few different options but in my game, I refused to believe most of the nonsense and focused on reality. Sarah Hawkins kills herself, and Pierce is seen after the credits back in his office in Boston sitting alone.
The other endings include Pierce struggling with the events and foreshadows suicide. Another portrays Pierce in a mental cell being treated for his insanity and in the last ending you can actually summon the sea monster as it sends everyone into a killing frenzy.
Call of Cthulhu Gameplay:
“Gameplay” if you want to call it was rare in my Call of Cthulhu review. The game has been described as a role-playing survival horror game, but I’d say it’s more of an interactive game with decision-making centered as the main focus. It’s a walking simulator and as Pierce, you’ll walk around the town and buildings searching for clues. They are very obvious and alert you to their presence with a glowing icon.
The game opens with a strange intro that has you play a small portion of a level that you’ll play later on. I liked the setting of my Boston office and detective agency but sadly you’re only there for five minutes of the entire game. It’s too bad because I think that would have added a nice layer to the game with the ability to accept other small cases and use your office as the hub. Right away, I could tell that Pierce was an alcoholic and there were plenty of chances to drink booze in the game but I chose not to partake in any drinking during my Call of Cthulhu review fearing that it would compromise the sanity of Pierce.
You can earn character points by completing chapters and finding clues. Using the points you have earned you can build skills for Pierce. Some options include his strength, investigation skills, medical knowledge, cult knowledge, ability to influence others, and psychology of investigations. It all determines on how you want to progress through the game. I love leveling characters up and I enjoyed picking which points to use on what skills.
With each chapter completed, you’ll be met with a small diary entry of what just happened while the next chapter loads. Unfortunately, the loading times take forever. I was surprised at one point to use the bathroom, get a drink, and play with the cat to come back to find the chapter was still loading during my Call of Cthulhu review. Character animations aren’t as polished as they should be and you’ll notice some textures are a little rough around the edges. The animations are average, but for some reason, the fingers and hands of people don’t look natural to me when I played. The fingers seemed to move too much, like floppy french-fries.
There’s not a ton of skill involved in this game. You mostly just walk around from room to room finding clues and advancing to the next part of the game. Even when you are given a gun near the end of the game, there’s no aiming or skill. Just push the trigger and if your gun is pointed anywhere near your target they will die. For the game being a “horror” game, there weren’t many scares. I think it would have freaked me out if I was in middle school, but don’t expect the spookiness from Silent Hill P.T. or Resident Evil 7. This is more like a PG-13 movie with horror elements. There was one time that I recall that I was “scared”. It was a little halfway through the game where you have a lantern and you need to navigate the dimension portals while the “Shambler” may or may not be loose in the dark. It was a good scare but other than that my Call of Cthulhu review offered few moments of panic for me.
The finale had too much build-up for my taste. When I was walking to the ritual, I couldn’t go more than a few feet without being interrupted by a vision of a character telling me how important my choice is and how it’s my destiny. The payoff of the game was almost nothing. You are met with a few seconds of Sarah Hawkins reacting to your decision, the credits, and then a few more seconds of what became of Edward Pierce.
I completed my Call of Cthulhu review in two days with a total of about eight hours of gameplay. Not a whole lot of memories made!
Call of Cthulhu Review Score:
The story is interesting and has a small window to capture your imagination but the gameplay requires no skill and the puzzles are solved within minutes. If you are into interactive video games with minimal action and dialogue choices, then this game is for you! If you prefer anything else, it’s probably best to move on or just play the first chapter to see if you would be interested.
Call of Cthulhu scores a 6.8 out of 10.
What would you write in your Call of Cthulhu review? What ending did you get? Did you buy into all the cult magic or did you stick to reality? Were there any puzzles you had issues solving? Let me know your memories and thoughts, I’d love to read the comments!