It is somewhat curious that, with the enormous impact that the work of HP Lovecraft has had in literature, cinema and video games, in our industry, there are not many games based officially on this universe. Now, Focus Home Interactive and Cyanide offer us a game that not only has the license but picks up the title of one of Lovecraft’s best-known stories: The Call of Cthulhu.
Call of Cthulhu is a first-person adventure game that combines a multitude of playable elements: role-playing, decisions, stealth, exploration, puzzles and even a little action. All this with a fairly linear formula, with some areas more open to exploration where we can set our pace.
Personally, and in the meantime open world game, having a more guided experience, always with clear objectives, has been like a breath of fresh air. We can always get to the point or take the opportunity to explore our surroundings, where we can find objects that can be very, very important for the adventure.
In Call of Cthulhu, we have some statistics that allow us to define the strengths of our character. These range from eloquence to force, through our research skills or our ability to understand and empathize. As we progress we are gaining points that we can invest in these skills and, apart, through reading and interacting with the environment we can also improve our knowledge of medicine and the occult.
All these skills serve us both to interact with the environment – for example, having the strength to open a certain door – as to get unlock new answers in the dialogues – through eloquence or even brute force – and learn more about the strange events that happen in Darkwater. And is that understanding history is a vital pillar of experience.
Cyanide’s new title Call of Cthulhu, we will discover an interesting story. In 1924, the detective Edward Price accepts the case about the death of Sarah Hawkings. This prestigious artist died in a fire that accidentally burned her house … or so they say. Price arrives at the mysterious island of Darkwater, where, as you can imagine, the death of Sarah Hawkings is only the beginning.
We are going to find all kinds of mysteries and inexplicable things, and one of the keys of the game is to decide if we want to maintain our sanity and stick to the facts, or embrace the mystery and believe the occult. This will change how we perceive some sequences, it will allow us to unlock one or other answers in the dialogues and will guide us to different endings.
We liked this idea a lot, since it is integrated with other elements that can alter our perception -like drinking alcohol-, and the line between reality and fiction is blurred. Of course, sometimes it is impossible to make these decisions consciously. For example, it has happened to us that one of the events that took us one step closer to madness was by mere chance, exploring a scenario, and we could not do anything to avoid it. On the other hand, it makes sense: in real life, you can not choose what is going to make you a little crazier.
To discover what is happening in Darkwater we have to talk to its inhabitants, record their documents and, also, discover what happened in certain past moments through reconstruction scenes. In them, we see flashbacks of what happened in a specific location, revealing unknown truths that we can use in our research.
In general, the mix of exploration, puzzles, stealth and action works quite well. Call of Cthulhu is clearly a game with a fairly fair budget, but knows how to use it well to create a varied adventure and with good rhythm. The biggest downside that we can put is that dialogues apart does not delve into any of the things he does and is a result a bit boring. In addition, its duration is not excessively long – it took us about seven hours to complete it – and replayability is an option, but it is not its strong point.
In any case, it is a game that is enjoyed above all by its narrative. The truth is that decisions have room for improvement, but they work well, and they make us feel in control of our history. We have been very intrigued all the time about what happens in Darkwater, and although the two finals we have seen have left us a bit cold, the road we have travelled until we got to them has enchanted us.
The world of Lovecraft
Call of Cthulhu uses the Unreal Engine 4 engine to recreate the Lovecraft world and, for a game with a discreet budget, the result is very positive. There are elements such as animations that have a lot of room for improvement, but as you can see in these screens, it looks pretty good. In addition, there are scenarios that we will not teach to avoid any major spoilers, also have an artistic design that you will enjoy a lot.
In PS4 Pro, where we have reviewed runs at 30 very stable frames per second, and although we do not know at what resolution it will work, the image is very clean, without jagged edges. We have also been able to test it on PC, where it visually goes a step further and, as you can imagine, can move to more images per second. Note that PC is compatible with the 21: 9 format, something that we always appreciate especially if you got a compatible monitor.
Call of Cthulhu comes with subtitles and voices in English. Some voices are better than others, but in general, they are at a good level. Of course, in PS4 and with a 5.1 sound system we have seen problems with the volume, with very low sounds on the one hand and very high on the other. On PC, playing with stereo headphones we have not had that problem. Anyway, we know that Cyanide has a launch patch prepared to correct several errors, so maybe it is solved for the launch.
Call of Cthulhu we liked it a lot. Its history and the recreation of Lovecraft’s universe have trapped us, and its more linear and guided development – although there are parts with a bit more freedom – we really wanted. It is a pity that it is not long and that it is so simple in the playable since it would have been great to offer a more profound or challenging experience, but if you like the universe that surrounds Cthulhu, we think you will enjoy it a lot. If Lovecraft’s work is not your thing, you will find an entertaining adventure, although you will lose much of its charm.
We have done this review with a download code for the PS4 version provided by Evolve PR.