It seems like an eternity since Call of Cthulhu: Dark Corners of the Earth was shown at E3, and it almost seemed like the game would never ship. The game promised to mix the popular (and incredibly creepy) fiction of H.P. Lovecraft with action and adventure gameplay elements. Now that the game is on shelves, it’s obvious the game was an ambitious effort, which may have caused the delays, but in the end, it all worked out pretty well.
In this game, you take on the role of Jack Walters, a guy who’s not what most people would define as mentally stable. Due to a weird encounter in his past (which you’ll actually re-live in the opening level of the game), Jack’s had a sort of amnesia that causes not only forgetfulness, but just plain insanity at times. The insanity manifests itself in uncontrollable fits of dizziness and fainting whenever things get a little too scary, which adds an exciting feeling of dread in the game.
Jack’s adventures start out simple enough: he’s set on a mission to find a missing person in the abysmal port town of Innsmouth. People are unfriendly and downright scary, and it’s up to you to gather clues, sneak past guards and figure out just what’s going on. It’s a pretty boring opening, and it might lead some to abandon hope on the game early on. This would be a big mistake, though, as the game does pick up, with the story getting deeper (and scarier) with plenty of “wow!” moments that’ll have you running out of the room like the Scooby Doo gang. The slow-starting storyline also picks up with some action segments that turn it into a first-person shooter. Not the most exciting FPS segments, mind you, but they do give some much-needed speeding-up to the pace.
The health system is kind of an odd duck, as you don’t have a health meter. Instead, Jack takes damage to specific areas of his body, and so long as he’s got a health kit, he can do some quick field medicine. A broken arm can be quickly patched and back to normal, which kills the realism of the game pretty quickly. Well, maybe the health system isn’t the only realism-killer; there’s also the plethora of platforming action that seems completely out of place. While being chased by villagers, you’ll be jumping between buildings, dashing through streets and, well, doing your best Super Mario impersonation.
The environments and sound in the game do a great job of keeping with Lovecraft’s terror-rich world. It’s all dark and scary and has you on the edge of your seat at times. The only problem is that the long development time behind Cthulhu means that the game’s age shows quickly, which reduces the sense of realism, especially with the blocky-headed characters and sometimes-jagged textures.
Call of Cthulhu: Dark Corners of the Earth is one of those games that has a solid mix of gameplay elements and takes its source material seriously, ensuring plenty of scary moments and schoolgirl-shrieks from players. While sometimes slipping up in the realism department, it’s a good bit of fun, guaranteed to keep horror fans busy for a dozen hours or more.
- Gameplay: 7.5
- A good mix of action and adventure, but it could do without the platforming
- Graphics: 7.5
- Atmospheric environments make it all so scary, but dated character models are off-putting
- Sound: 8
- Great voice acting and creepy sounds
- Replay: 7.5
- This game really sucks you in, but once through it, there’s not a single reason to go back for more
- Overall: 7.5
- A very good way to spend your horror-hunting dollars
— Craig Falstaff