Call of Cthulhu is probably H.P. Lovecraft’s most famous work, playing fast and loose with the human concept of sanity and otherworldly beings capable of rending your mind in twain with but a glimpse of their form. Cyanide Studio’s Lovecraftian investigation game looks haunting and intriguing at every turn, exactly how it should be!
We were talked through an early demo build of the title and shown what’s in store for poor Private Investigator Edward Pierce.
Slated for a 2018 release, Call of Cthulhu looks absolutely magnificent running on the Unreal 4 engine. The setting is immaculately detailed and exceptionally eerie, dark lonely corridors encourage an itch between your shoulder blades as if to suggest there’s something watching you from the shadows.
Call of Cthulhu’s progression system is rooted heavily in the Pen and Paper RPG of the same name. Experience is used to purchase and upgrade new skills to improve Pierce’s skills, allowing him to delve deeper into the mystery around the Hawkins family murders. How exactly the skill systems work in the game is left unclear, apparently introducing random chance but not making the player aware of just how bad an idea certain actions may be. However this being said, they have promised that there’s more than one way to skin a Shoggoth, any failed skill checks just close off one possible route to face melting horrors beyond.
Reconstruction Mode looks to be a very interesting core mechanic of the game, where Pierce is able to utilise his mind’s eye to well… reconstruct the scene and investigate clues. Again this ability relies on certain skills being sufficiently proficient in order to highlight certain elements for investigation. Identifying these elements then allow for extra dialogue options when interacting with NPCs for information. These expanded dialogue options will also aid in influencing an NPC’s relationship, making it easier or more challenging to obtain information depending on how highly the person thinks of you.
Much like the Pen & Paper, Pierce becomes influenced by his exposure to the Cthulhu mythos and as his sanity becomes more tenuous so do his interpretations of certain scenes and discoveries, sending him down a slippery slope into madness. These altered perceptions will begin to influence every aspect of gameplay and ultimately will decide which fate Pierce is faced with at the end of the game.
The Clue Indicator mechanic is a useful tool for helping players to realise if they have located everything a scene has to offer, bearing in mind that each discovery alters the game in untold ways. Each undiscovered clue may have huge repercussions, some may even be beneficial to Pierce’s mind state, but discoveries will alter subsequent cutscenes and interactions, allowing for a huge variety of different outcomes.
From the footage revealed to us it seems that Cyanide Studio are adhering to the lore and the core RPG system wherever possible, creating not only an interesting gameplay mechanic but a fascinating and deep narrative; The trials and tribulations associated with insane cultists, mentally unstable detectives and dark and mysterious manor houses that appear to have spent far too much on green lampshades and creepy paintings.
All in all, Call of Cthulhu looks to be exactly the kind of investigative Lovecraftian horror story any fan would love to explore.