#gamethoughts – Call of Cthulu: The Official Game

I’m not really sure how I ended up with Call of Cthulu game on my Steam wishlist. My guess is that it was either on a “If you liked ‘Layers of Fear’…” game list or/and it was while reading up on The Sinking City, another video game with the Cthulu mythos as a central theme.

Whatever the reason, it was on my wishlist so when the holidays rolled around, my husband purchased it for me as a gift. This month, I finally got around to playing it!

The plot revolves around a detective named Edward Pierce. The setting of the game is the early 1920s, Pierce is a veteran of the first World War, drinking to forget what happened during that time and taking investigation jobs around Boston to pay the bills. When the father of Sarah Hawkins bursts into his office, begging for Pierce to investigate the arson case that claimed her life, the evidence proves too much for Pierce to resist and he sets off to the island of Darkwater. But this whaling town hides a gruesome mystery…

I finished the game in about 9 hours. This is definitely a story-driven game. It’s not open world, but also not completely on rails. If you take your time to investigate, you can find extra clues hidden around. You spend a lot of time talking to characters, trying to figure out this strange town and the rest of the time searching for clues that Pierce can interpret. There are a couple of stealth sequences, but only one section that creeped me out so much that I had to Google a walk-through because I was so scared I couldn’t think straight.

You can level up Pierce’s skills, either putting it into his ability to investigate, understand human psychology, improve his eloquence or beef up his strength. Higher levels in these areas open up new conversations and the ability to find more clues to solve the mystery. I spread out my points, managing to max out one of the categories by the end, but if I had just focused on single category, in theory I could have found new ways to interact with things.

Pierce also has skills in medicine and the Occult but those can only be leveled up by finding books hidden around the game. There is also a sanity meter which made me think of Eternal Darkness but turned out to not be quite as menacing as that game. It did make me worried about reading the creepy books lying around because I was worried that Pierce would just go completely insane.

I am curious about replaying this game and seeing what difference my choices would have made. The game allows different save slots, but since you couldn’t just save at any time, I’m not sure when you were supposed to create multiple saves. It would have been nice to find turning points in the game and save that spot for later. I did play through the ending checkpoint twice and got two separate final scenes. I know there was at least one option – the “occult” choice – that I could not access because I didn’t read all the occult literature.

While the graphics weren’t as pretty as Witcher 3 (that bar is set pretty high though) they were good enough to creep me out. What really got me was the sound design – the eerie whine that is in the background of the game, making it sound like the whole world is creaking.

I would love to see some DLC for this game, maybe a prequel that let us do a few other investigations with Pierce before his run in with the cultists. I did like the style of investigation and piecing things together.

The game retails for $45 on PC which feels like a lot for something I finished in 9 hours, but there is definitely some replayability. The story is well done though and I’m sure people who know more about the Cthulu tabletop game it is based on or just Cthulu mythos in general will get an extra kick out of seeing these creatures come to life. If you’re a fan of psychological horror games and need something to play while waiting for Layers of Fear 2 to get a release date, this is a good one for your collection.

Has anyone else played this? What were your thoughts?

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