Howard Phillips Lovecraft, Born 1890 in Rhode Island USA, was one of the greatest writers of weird fiction and horror of the previous century. If you haven't heard of him before he ranks along side the likes of Edger Allen Poe as an innovator of horror fiction. His writings have been used as movie fodder many times, most famously by horror director Stuart Gordon in the Re-animator film series and the chillingly odd From Beyond. Now developer Headfirst and publisher 2K games take on H.P. Lovecraft's Cthulhu Mythos in this first-person horror game that combines intense action and adventure elements.
Draw upon your skills in exploration, investigation, and combat while faced with the seemingly impossible task of battling pure evil incarnate.
Jack Walters was a highly revered police detective before his encounter with the Mythos changed his life. After his first encounter with the Mythos he was diagnosed with severe amnesia and schizophrenia and was committed to an asylum. Several years later his faculties returned and he was discharged. Fuelled by a burning desire to discover more about the dark secrets of the universe and the mysteries of his own past, he set himself up as a private detective in which he only took cases with a Mythos connection. Desperate for answers he takes a new case involving stories of strange creatures, unholy rituals, unexplained prosperity, and disappearances of several people from a town called Innsmouth.
Before long Jack has uncovered more than he wanted to as he is pulled into a world of complete horror and has to fight his way out. The detective work that jack performs through the game is pretty well done. The "a" button is used to investigate things and you need to be checking out each area you enter in some detail. When investigating something Jack will talk to himself in a "film noir" private investigator kind of style and within this monologue are all the clues you will need to progress. The private investigator ethos flows right through the game and you will be faced with many puzzles along the way. You can often avoid combat by sneaking past your enemy or performing a stealth kill, you can also peak around corners. So, investigate then peak, then sneak is the way you will find Jack operates best. If you do get spotted by enemies and end up taking hits the camera gets splattered with your own blood and you know it is time to retreat.
As the game progresses and Jack discovers more about the wired cult behind the strange goings on in Innsmouth, you drift deeper into the world of H P Lovecraft. I don't want to spoil anything but what I can say is Jack see things that are beyond what a normal man could cope with. As Jack sinks into this world his Dynamic Sanity system kicks in - this result's in hallucinations, panic attacks, vertigo, paranoia, and more! This all helps to up the chaos meter when encountering more serious enemies.
Graphically Call of Cthulhu: Dark Corners of the Earth is fairly solid. The 1920's feel is recreated with love and the sometime expansive areas are all detailed well. Plus, the design of the weapons etc. is also authentically done. Jack's Dynamic Sanity system is cool – just when you need it the least the man totally freaks out! Even his teeth start to chatter with fear. This only adds to the intensity of the game experience and the effect is kind of unique.
Sound plays a major part in Call of Cthulhu: Dark Corners of the Earth as it does in any decent horror movie. The standard creepy noises are all present and correct and I found the voice over to be believable and useful at the same time.
There are many things that happen in the game that I would love to mention but for the sake of not spoiling the surprises I will refrain. If you are a fan of horror games or H P Lovecraft's writing then this game has a lot to offer. The replay factor is only in harder runs with less ammo etc. but on the first run through Call of Cthulhu: Dark Corners of the Earth has the power to chill your spine and immerse you in a world of complete terror.
8.5 out of 10