Call of Cthulhu from Cyanide Studio and Focus Home Interactive is a new take on the RPG from Chaosium. Learn more about this interesting mix of RPG and investigation in our Call of Cthulhu review!
Call of Cthulhu is a new take on the universe created by Lovecraft, this time giving us a video game representation of the pen and paper RPG from Chaosium. In this game, you will play as World War I veteran Edward Pierce who must investigate the elements that surround the murder of one Sarah Hawkins. As you can imagine, given the source material and the theme of the game, things are not as they first seem to be, and you’ll embark on a journey through a grim island in which danger lurks around every corner.
After waking up in a cave full of dismembered sharks, the game will get you started with a short tutorial to teach you the basics. You’ll move with the left analog stick and can move the camera around with the right analog stick. You can hold down on the L2 button to run. If you need to crouch, you can do so with the Circle button. The X button is for interacting with things. Darkness is a very dangerous thing, so you should always look for a source of light to help you to survive. One short gameplay sequence later you’ll be at your office, from where you’ll be able to start with your journey.
You’ll be prompted to press the touchpad on the Dualshock 4 to open your menu where you can review the case at hand, check your main character’s stats and sanity – something you should always keep in mind -, information on Darkwater’s inhabitants, locations, and occult events, any clues you might have found for each of the game’s chapters, your inventory with the items you have found (at first you will only have a lighter engraved with a reminder of your time in the Lost Battalion of the 77th Infantry Division), as well as any knowledge you’ve obtained that could prove to be valuable.
Edward Pierce has seven stats to improve, five of which can be improved by using the character points you obtain, while the other two are improved by objects you find. These stats are for Investigation, which represents your investigating talents; Eloquence which represents your influence when talking to others; Strength which represents your ability to use your physical power as needed; Medicine which represents your knowledge in the medical field; Occultism which represents your knowledge of the occult sciences; Psychology which represents your knowledge of human behavior; and Spot Hidden which represents how good you are at finding hidden objects. You will gain more character points as you progress in the game, so be sure to make good use of them!
Improving your Investigation will allow you to understand past events by reviewing a crime scene or an object – it will also help you with picking locks. Improving your Eloquence will improve your chances of convincing others or manipulating them during a discussion. Improving your Strength will increase your odds for forcing down doors or mechanisms, and it can also lead to more verbal or physical violence during discussions. Improving your Medicine will increase your odds of determining the dosage of a drug or for being able to make a diagnosis if needed. Improving your Occultism will improve your odds for determining the use and origin of occult artifacts. Improving your Psychology will increase your odds of understanding what motivates an individual based on his/her behavior. Improving your Spot Hidden skill will increase your odds of finding hidden objects.
And now, let’s talk for a bit about your sanity. You start the game with a relatively stable sanity, with your only trauma being the nightmares you have after going through your role in the Meuse-Argonne Offensive during World War I. Your group had to hold its position as allies and enemies fired over their heads, with no food or medical supplies, surrounded by the bodies of those who died from the attack. The only way he can overcome his current situation is with sleeping pills and alcohol… and things can only get worse after this. There are some books you can find during your journey that are of an… unholy nature. The game will ask if you really want to read them, knowing that doing so will greatly affect your character’s sanity. There will also be events you will experience that will alter your character’s sanity, so be ready for anything!
Along with walking around each area gathering clues and information and talking to any individual you run into, you will also get to enter areas in which you’ll be able to hold down the L2 and R2 buttons to enter an investigation mode that will allow you to enter a reconstruction scene so that you can review things at a slower pace, revealing new information that will help you in finding out the truth about this whole case. You will get your first chance at using this ability during your visit to a particular warehouse, but that is only one of the many instances in which you’ll get to put your detective skills to good use.
As for the game’s trophies, I have good news and bad news. The good news is that the game has a full trophy list with a Platinum at the end, which is always appreciated. The bad news is that there are several missable trophies, and due to the fact that you need to work on improving your stats just right to gain access to important information and interactions or to get a chance of finding all hidden objects, as well as on how you’ll need to either keep Edward as sane as possible or drive him into madness, you’re going to have to play the game more than once so that you can see everything it has to offer and plan accordingly during a second run. I suggest that you invest in Strength, Spot Hidden, and Eloquence early on so that you can make the most of your first run with the game.
In the end, Call of Cthulhu is an interesting digital presentation of the Call of Cthulhu pen and paper RPG from Chaosium, a game from 1981. It’s a slow burn type of game where the detective side of thing plays a big part, so if you’re more into action games, then this one is not what you need. But if you like first-person exploration games, a dark atmosphere, and the Cthulhu mythos, then you’re going to have a good time playing Call of Cthulhu on PS4.
This Call of Cthulhu review is based on a PlayStation 4 copy provided by Focus Home Interactive.