October is usually the month where all new horror games get to see the light of day, or rather the shine of the moon. However, as this year this particular month is being held in a stranglehold by both Call of Duty: Black Ops IIII, and Red Dead Redemption 2, many developers and publishers alike have opted against releasing any of their spooky title in time for Halloween. However, the studio behind the Call of Cthulhu, simply did not have the any other options, as after numerous delays, and significant loss of hype, they had no other choice but to release it the day before the hallows’ eve.
The Call of Cthulhu, as most of you know is by no means a new creation. As originally it has been written by H. P. Lovecraft back in 1926. However, the work of Cyanide Games is by no means a copy, or a faithful adaptation of Lovecraft’s eerie classic, as it features a somewhat original story, which is supported by the myth of Cthulhu and its blood lusting cult. And I’m saying somewhat, because it does feature a fair amount of clichés, such as the fact that the main protagonist is a war veteran – turned disgrace detective, who has been given a seemingly cold case, which no other private-eye would even dream of accepting.
From the prologue onwards, the story follows a rather predictable path which will lead you through fishing hamlets, industrial estates, abandoned mansions, psychiatric facilities, caves, and many, many more. And while the broad story of the title is not especially unique, it is incredibly captivating as its true value is held within the secondary narrative which is constantly being crafted by all the in-game characters, collectibles, and the protagonist himself. And the quote-on-quote secondary narrative isn’t limited to handful of interactions and pick-me-ups, as Call Of Cthulhu, in contrary to popular belief is not a semi-linear, point A to point B horror, like Outlast.
In many ways, the title at hand is a horror tale which incorporates the core mechanics of the now somewhat forgotten walking simulators. However, it goes way beyond walking and pressing the X button, as it is more akin to an RPG, than anything else. And that’s because Call of Cthulhu features a wide array of activities, which range from physical – not always crime scene – investigations, victim and witness questioning, and detective-mode like sequences, which allow you to reconstruct events at the scene, which does not necessarily always turns out to be criminal. In addition, some areas of Call of Cthulhu also feature a fair bit of exploration, which is always optional, but when completed in full, always presents you with new, and previously unseen opportunities.
As mentioned previously, Call of Cthulhu is not a simple walking simulator. And it reinforces that idea further through inclusion of choices, which often can result in different outcomes. For example, early on in the game, you need to gain access to a certain warehouse, but in order to do so, you need to get past a pair of guards. And sure, you can try to persuade them, or pick a fight with them, but if you play your cards right by exploring the area, breaking few locks, and conversing with a handful of locals, you will soon find that there is more than you can do. And the amount of choice which you’ll discover will be simply overwhelming, and incredibly pleasing. As it turns the otherwise simple game, into a much more complex and satisfying experience.
The amount of choice present within the Call of Cthulhu is simply astounding, and personally, I have to say that it has taken me by surprise. And that’s because the first impression which the title presents you with is rather off-putting. And in all honesty, the less is said about the introduction, the better. But it simply cannot be overlooked as it is simply the worst part of the title by far, as it is riddled with visual imperfections, eerily low quality special effects, and a number of unnecessary tutorial sequences which could have been showcased within the first complete chapter in a much better and appropriate way.
Call of Cthulhu is an incredibly enjoyable and satisfying experience, especially when played at night, with lights off, and headphones on. However, as enjoyable as it might be, it does have its fair share of issues. For example, all in-game animations are rather archaic and when presented within your peripheral vision, they’re not exactly offensive. But for some strange reason, Cyanide Games insists on having you converse with many characters face to face, multiple times, within each chapter. And those very conversations showcase the vast majority of the title’s flaws. And said flaws include robotic animations, object clipping, and some questionable character models.
One of the most prominent characters within the title is a female mobster called Cat. And as she is 24 years old, she has been designed to look much younger than many of the other characters. However, the beauty treatment which she has undergone during the development has ultimately stripped any facial definition off of her face. And in truth, she simply looks unfinished rather than young, as her face has no complex detail. And often, especially when presented side-by-side with other characters, she simply looks out-of-place. And this seem especially strange when one take into consideration, how significant she is in comparison, to let’s say, fisherman number eight.
Cat may have a complexion of a plastic doll, but even despite of all her flaws, she has a much better character model than the entirety of the Black Mirror’s cast. And unlike the characters of that game, she appears fairly natural, as her, or for that matter any other character’s eyes never wander off, or appear to be dead inside. And for all that is wrong with the character animations, and some models, the overall impression which they leave is fairly positive.
There is no denying that Call of Cthulhu is a great game, but ultimately it is a little overambitious as its scope, scale, and mechanics could easily fit in any AAA game. But unfortunately, what encases the said mechanics is definitely not AAA. However, it is not far from it, as overall Call of Cthulhu looks like a high-end AA game with aspirations for the AAA mark. And while it may not be able to hit all the marks, then ultimately it has lived up to its rather significant hype, and in many ways it has exceeded mine and many others’ expectations, as it is a much more complex, and accomplished title than many have expected.
REVIEW CODE: A complimentary Playstation 4 code was provided to Bonus Stage for this review. Please send all review code enquiries to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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