At Focus Home Interactive’s E3 2017 booth we were given a taste of madness with a journey into the upcoming investigative RPG Call of Cthulhu from Cyanide. The game incorporates the psychological horror of H.P. Lovecraft with the pen and paper RPG, Call of Cthulhu and lets players take the role of investigator, using stealth to unravel the mystery of the events on an isolated island, while also staving off your own descent into insanity. You take on the role of Edward Pierce, on a mission to find the truth behind the death of an acclaimed artist and her family on a backwater island.
In our demo of the game, we were given a chance to see the game’s unique twist on the detective story. The central edifice of the game is a massive mansion that you will be exploring in more detail, eventually having access to all of it, in what begins as a simple case and expands futher. This is no museum stroll however, as there are clues to a heinous truth within these walls that will test your mental mettle the further you unravel them. The setting is really well designed, with a dark yet vibrant color palette that suits the source material very well.
The game features an interesting RPG mechanic frame that allows you to improve your detective abilities. Improving these abilities allows you to do different things like notice new clues in the environment, deduce truths behind items and make sense of symbols and paintings. As you collect clues, you can refute police reports of accounts and make your own conclusions. These conclusions are very nefarious and overall it’s not for the faint of heart. And that’s a good thing for horror fans, including those who love(craft) the lore of Bloodborne. There is something beyond the normal at play here and much of it is the stuff of nightmare fuel. Try as you might to refute the true nature of things, eventually you must come to accept the truth. That truth may very well break you.
As you progress you will be faced with the beasts of your nightmares, and they are too powerful for your puny human body. Instead of engaging you will have to use your ability to understand your surrounding to hide and escape, making use of stealth, as well as more creative ways. In the demo, a painting of the beast was stabbed with a ceremonial dagger. These should make for some terrifying and tense moments similar to Outlast, in which we are reduced to a childlike state of fear, and screaming. Maybe a lot of screaming. It’s different to steer away from combat when playing a hybrid RPG, but seeing how the RPG elements boost your mental abilities, it’s a change that can be very welcome. Watching the game unfold, I got a strong sense of other similarly mental focused games like Amnesia and that was enough to keep me invested in what I was witnessing. This was made even more intense by the character’s innate claustrophobia which made hiding in a close space like a closet a heart racing affair that could ultimately result in a heart attack, causing a death.
There will also be a number of NPCs to interact with and engaging in dialogue with them will be another investigative element to the game. Whether you choose to intimidate or persuade will all have ramifications down the road and will unlock new options in later conversations. This all serves to help you progress even further, such as gaining access to a new area. However, even if you fail, you will be able to explore alternative paths to progress your aims.
Call of Cthulhu has a provocative name that instantly lifts expectations. At first look, the game seems like it may just have the ingredients it needs to deliver on that promise of madness. The developers have described it as a visual graphic novel, and it remains to be seen just how deep the RPG framework goes. Regardless, if the narrative retains its well crafted pacing to go along with the arresting imagery of the Lovecraft universe, Call of Cthulhu should be a game that any fan of psychological horror will want to play into the wee hours of the night. If they’re brave enough. It’s set to release in 2018 for the PS4, Xbox One and PC.
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