[PlayStation 4] Call of Cthulhu Review
More than four years after being originally announced, Call of Cthulhu has finally found its way to consoles! Inspired by H.P. Lovecraft’s story and by the roleplaying game released in 1981, it will take you through a dark story of psychological horror and occultism. Learn more in our Call of Cthulhu review!
The story starts you in a weird place full of dead sharks, and a bit after you take control our protagonist ends up killed by what seems like the infamous mythological creature Cthulhu. Edward Pierce suddenly wakes up, in his office, not too sure if that nightmare was caused by the whiskey or the sleeping pills. Pierce, a veteran of World War I who is now working as a private detective in the region of Boston, has been in a bit of a decline recently, as business is pretty scarce and the medications he has to prevent his nightmares seem to have worn off.
But then a man enters his office, offering him an investigation that will lead him to a small island on the coast near Boston. The man wants him to solve the mystery of his daughter’s death, who died from a fire in her house, with her husband and kid. A strange painting she did, which the man received after her death, is the only clue to start with. This is where things will unravel into something much bigger than a simple fire as Edward travels to the island.
You’ll be going through this adventure from a first-person perspective with RPG elements and puzzle solving. As you start the game, you’ll be able to distribute a few points between different skills such as strength or psychology, that will aid you on your quest in different aspects. For example, higher psychology might unlock additional questions you’ll be able to ask townsfolks. As you progress in the game, you’ll eventually earn points that you’ll be able to assign those skills to make them better. Only two skills will require you to find books or items to raise them, medicine and occultism, and believe me, they will prove to be useful on your investigations!
A lot of the game’s exposition will be done through investigations. You’ll talk to people to try and gather clues to help you progress, pretty much in the same way as there were dialogue options in Fallout 4. Based on your actions and dialog choices, the story and Edward’s state of mind will change. You’ll also encounter puzzles that you can end up failing, which will also potentially lead your story one way or another. Sometimes events or visions will also affect Edward, so it’s not just a matter of progressing through the story, but also of trying to keep him sane (or not!). Some of those puzzles also require you to find hidden clues and objects in the rooms you’re in, which can be quite tricky to find if you haven’t given yourself a lot of points in the investigation and hidden objects skills!
Another interesting gameplay element you’ll encounter are the stealth sections. You’ll obviously have to stay low and avoid being seen, and sometimes this will lead you into tight spaces or things like lockers. The thing is, Edward is claustrophobic. Big time. So every time you’re in a closed up space, your vision will be altered, and it will eventually affect your state of mind if you stay in there for too long.
The game’s looks and feels a bit outdated compared to today’s AAA games, but this lack in graphical achievement was completely covered by the vibe and atmosphere the game has. The eerie looking places, visions and the whole setup more than made up for everything and were truly captivating to explore and investigate.
At first, I was expecting another scary game, having recently reviewed Home Sweet Home. What I found was a game that was way more about investigations than scares while still having a stressful atmosphere, and it completely sucked me in. Each time I discovered new bits of information, whether that be about the case itself or about occult things that seemed related to it (obviously!), it made the story the more intriguing and sometimes opened up to more mystery, making for excellent storytelling.
As for the trophies, it shouldn’t be a difficult Platinum, but with so many possibilities as to how your story can evolve, it’ll probably require a couple of playthroughs unless you do some careful save management at specific points. There’s one specific trophy about not having a drink through the whole game that you should watch out for since it requires you to be vigilant for the whole playthrough. Some endings will require different states of sanity, so there’s good replay value for this game on your way to adding a new Platinum to your collection.
It’s been a long time coming for Cyanide’s and Focus Home Interactive’s game, but the result is a truly interesting and great game to play. It’s been a while since I played a game with a story that was so captivating, and it has a nice mix of RPG elements, investigation, and stealth to change the pace during your playthrough. Add to that the multiple endings that will warrant extra playthroughs, and you got yourself a great game with some nice replay value. Definitely one to play if you’re a fan of adventure games!
This Call of Cthulhu review is based on a PlayStation 4 copy provided by Focus Home Interactive.