This Halloween, game developer company Cyanide gives us the opportunity to delve into their take on the mysterious and haunting universe of H.P. Lovecraft, with their upcoming release Call of Cthulhu: The Official Video Game. Based on the 1928 short story by famed horror writer H.P. Lovecraft, as well as Chaosium’s 1981 role-playing game of the same title, Call of Cthulhu is a role-playing survival horror video game, soon to be available for PlayStation 4, Xbox One and Windows.
The game’s cryptic narrative relies heavily on both visuals and in-game mechanics to deliver a haunting and immersive experience for the player. Following the game’s protagonist, Edward Pierce, the player investigates the obscure and eerie goings on of Darkwater Island following the mysterious death of the Hawkins family, near Boston, Massachusetts in the 1920s. Pierce, a private detective and war veteran in an alcohol-fuelled existential crisis, inspects the island for clues while dealing with conspiracies, secret cults and psychological horrors in a true Lovecraftian manner; this proves similar to games such as Outlast and Alien Isolation, which rely more on stealth as opposed to combat. Pierce develops skills such as Eloquence and Psychology to gain the trust of sinister locals, and Medicine and Occultism which give him insight into the clues he finds around the island.
With eerie darkness and ghoulish green glows, the game’s otherworldly visuals set up and reinforce the games ominous narrative, heightening the strange visions and building tension before the terrorising jump scares. Additionally, the game’s notable sanity mechanic really captures the classic Lovecraftian theme of ‘forbidden knowledge’, in which his characters often uncover knowledge that ultimately leaves them incredibly regretful, for what they have learned has the potential to psychologically destroy them. Similar to other survival games such as Eternal Darkness and Don’t Starve, Call of Cthulhu has an in-built ‘sanity system’; based on how the game is played, certain circumstances can cause Pierce to begin to lose his mind, leading to the development of phobias such as claustrophobia and paranoia, causing Pierce to hallucinate which will affect the rest of the game’s outcome. This may manifest in Pierce finding clues that don’t actually exist, or being attacked by monsters that are simply a figment of his imagination, shaping the narrative of the game and potentially sending Pierce down a rabbit hole of increasingly chaotic and misleading events.
Set to be released on 30 October 2018, Call of Cthulhu: The Official Video Game will provide us with the cosmic madness and ominous horror we deserve just in time for Halloween, when the real monsters come out to play.