Some­thing is amiss with Call Of Cthulhu

Cyanide’s long-awaited adap­ta­tion still feels like it’s Caught be­tween an an­cient beast and a hard place

Games TM - - CONTENTS -

for­mat: PS4, Xbox one, PC | pub­lisher: FO­CUS Home In­ter­ac­tive devel­oper: Cyanide | re­lease: tbc 2018 | play­ers: 1

Af­ter years lan­guish­ing in de­vel­op­ment, a very public false start, a change of devel­oper and yet an­other hands-off demon­stra­tion, we’re start­ing to get a lit­tle wor­ried about Call Of Cthulhu.

It isn’t that it doesn’t show prom­ise – be­cause it cer­tainly does – but there’s some­thing about this Love­craftian-in­fused de­tec­tive game that doesn’t sit right with us. Be­fore we get into it, let’s cir­cle back to the premise: you’re a moody pri­vate in­ves­ti­ga­tor tasked with ex­plor­ing an omi­nous and muddy is­land off the coast of Bos­ton, Mas­sachusetts; a griz­zly mur­der re­quires your ex­per­tise and it’s only through keen in­ves­ti­ga­tion and an al­most ob­ses­sive-at­trac­tion to in­vad­ing per­sonal space and pri­vacy that you’ll be able to fig­ure out what re­ally tran­spired on Dark­wa­ter Isle.

Lis­ten, we aren’t be­ing fussy, that works for us. Call Of Cthulhu is try­ing to evoke the feel­ing of the pen and pa­per RPG more so than HP Love­craft’s famed short story – or in­deed any of the in­no­va­tive hor­ror games bear­ing the Great Old One’s name that have come be­fore it. But it’s like we said be­fore, some­thing about Cyanide’s ex­e­cu­tion isn’t click­ing into place. We’ve seen this game de­moed at a dis­tance for years now, and the per­vad­ing con­cerns are around pace and struc­ture. It’s as slow as hell, de­mand­ing that you crawl through ev­ery bit of text, de­tail and piece of in­for­ma­tion that can pos­si­bly be thrown your way. Given the some­what ques­tion­able writ­ing (not to men­tion some­what theatri­cal voice act­ing) this is a bit of an ask. Of course, we’ll once again give the stu­dio the ben­e­fit of doubt and as­sume that these el­e­ments will be sub­ject to change as Call Of Cthulhu edges closer to its still un­known late-2018 re­lease date.

The stu­dio does, of course, ar­gue that the crawl­ing pace is a de­lib­er­ate de­sign de­ci­sion to build ten­sion, as well as giv­ing the game the space to es­tab­lish the no­tion that ev­ery sin­gle per­son on the is­land hates you – with your mere pres­ence alone putting you un­der im­mense scru­tiny. In terms of struc­ture, Call Of Cthulhu is fo­cused around in­ves­tiga­tive game­play with four pil­lars of foren­sic in­ves­ti­ga­tion bring­ing an in­ter­est­ing RPG ele­ment to pro­ceed­ings; in­vest­ing in skills such as so­cial, phys­i­cal, knowl­edge and in­ves­ti­ga­tion will give you new op­por­tu­ni­ties and lines of

in­quiry to fol­low in the semi-open world, even if, it seems, that all roads even­tu­ally lead to the same place.

These types of sys­tems are dif­fi­cult to demon­strate, they need to be ex­pe­ri­enced. As that wasn’t an avail­able op­tion, all we are left to go on is what seemed to be a fairly rou­tine set of op­por­tu­ni­ties to fol­low. It looks mun­dane and pedes­trian, lack­ing the ven­omous bite that you’d ex­pect to see from an of­fi­cial Call Of Cthulhu re­lease.

Where this could change is with the su­per­nat­u­ral side to the game, an ele­ment of Call Of Cthulhu de­signed to ex­pose your san­ity and prey on your in­se­cu­ri­ties. We saw only a glimpse of it this year, and none of the sce­nar­ios that push the player into the po­si­tion in which you must fight the hor­rors of the dark place non-di­rectly, man­ag­ing your un­rav­el­ling san­ity against a de­sire to sur­vive by any means nec­es­sary. It is here where Cyanide could suc­ceed in ex­e­cut­ing its vi­sion, where it could trans­form Call Of Cthulhu into a full-bod­ied de­tec­tive story tinged with hor­ror, rather than a drab jaunt through a turgid fish­ing vil­lage. What we’re not see­ing right now is all of its el­e­ments co­a­lesce into one ex­cel­lent whole. There are some fan­tas­tic ideas, sys­tems and sto­ry­telling me­chan­ics in here – we just need to see Cyanide fi­nally prove that it can all work in per­fect har­mony, a re­sult that will be as at­ten­tion-ar­rest­ing as it is un­set­tling.

Call Of Cthulhu shows a lot of prom­ise, but it still feels a lit­tle un­der cooked. its var­i­ous el­e­ments seem in­ter­est­ing in a vac­uum, but we’re still strug­gling to see how they will come to­gether to form a fun game­play ex­pe­ri­ence.

the suc­cess of Call Of Cthulhu will largely rest on how well the san­ity ef­fects and sit­u­a­tions are pre­sented in the fi­nal game. we’ve heard pre­cious lit­tle on the in­trigu­ing ‘pho­bia sys­tem’ re­vealed this time last year.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UK

© PressReader. All rights reserved.