This review is an unedited version of the review written by Zombie Dredd and published in the Tech Magazine: Issue 69 May 2019.
If you’re looking for a colourful game brimming with light-heartedness… you should look elsewhere. Call of Cthulhu will not be the game for you and you should turn the page now. If, however, you desire a mature (but flawed) horror-survival game with slightly tacked on RPG elements, then read on, because Call of Cthulhu, might just be for you. But beware, as Call of Cthulhu is packed with mature themes and designed to ensure your spiral into madness is not a pleasant experience.
You are Edward Pierce – private investigator, war veteran and drunk – tasked with looking into the mysterious deaths of the Hawkins family. While a fire appears to be the cause of their deaths, it just wouldn’t be a game if the case was that open and shut.
What you really have are mysterious paintings, ominous visions, the occult and fair few slightly worrying characters to engage with. Conversation threads with the game’s characters are much like any role-playing game you’ve played before, but can more obviously affect your approach to a specific goal.
Detective work itself is pretty standard in every location. Search for clues or items which are indicated via hotspots when you are close to them. Ultimately, this is more a case of just ensuring you move into every nook and cranny of the investigation location to ensure you recover everything. This includes the reconstruction elements which can at times be disturbing but critical to story progression.
You can improve your success rate with clue finding and conversations by upping selected skills. So go ahead and earn experience points for these upgrades, but it will all seem a little shallow. The game also leans to variety with a few action and stealth sequences that are pretty hit and miss. Mainly miss unfortunately.
The voice acting – which for a game of this nature is key – is equally hit and miss. Some actors appear completely engrossed in their role, while others seem to be bored out of their mind. This negatively impacts on the immersion, and sometimes makes you wonder why you decided to accept the case in the first place.
Graphically, the game shares the same status as the voice acting and slightly out of kilter pacing changes. Environments feel well-crafted and foreboding in equal measure – there were a number of times when the world filled me with dread. A passage is a passage until it’s in a game like this… Character graphics and animation are a little less pleasant to look at. However, overall, the graphics help set the game’s atmosphere pretty well.
And ultimately, atmosphere is what the game needed to achieve. An atmosphere that conveys the spirit of the H.P. Lovecraft story. A story that was always meant to take you on a psychological rollercoaster. The game achieves that but it does so against the odds. Ultimately, Call of Cthulhu (the game) is one for gamers starved of dark adventure games with an established universe. For other gamers, this is probably not going to be the game for you.
Available on: PlayStation 4, Xbox One and PC
Distributed in SA by: Apex Interactive