E3 2017: ‘Call of Cthulhu’ First Impressions

This wasn’t on my radar going in, but Focus Home Entertainment usually has a few gems that don’t get the attention they deserve. Cyanide’s Call of Cthulhu was one of them. This small-ish French team’s dedication to the Lovecraftian lore and storytelling style was obvious from the very beginning.

You play a detective investigating a house fire (or more accurately a creepy mansion fire) in which there were multiple deaths. As you search for and combine clues, things start to contradict the official police report, and make less and less sense as the investigation goes on.

There are also RPG elements, based very closely on the pen & paper game of the same name. As you meet and interview various NPCs, different dialogue options become available based on what you’ve already discovered and what skills (intimidation, silver-tongue, etc.) you put your points into.

The most interesting part was the sanity meter, which seemed fairly similar to the incredible game Eternal Darkness: Sanity’s Requiem. The more fucked up shit you come across will affect what you see and hear, with hallucinations becoming more intense over time. It’ll also affect your interactions with people, and the world around you.

The sanity meter will make you develop phobias over time too. In the demo, a monster came out of a painting, and there wasn’t a damn thing you could do about it. So our hero hid in a closet, à la Alien Isolation. It was a risky move, since the character had developed claustrophobia. Almost immediately you heart began to race and your breath quickened. This was obviously a very short-term solution.

The sanity meter is one of my favorite mechanics in any game I’ve played. There’s a lot that can be done creatively in the game, as well as poking a few holes in the fourth wall. Horror and investigative games are usually pretty far from my jam. But this one has definitely piqued my interest. The clever weaving of various mechanics, along with a very passionate and dedicated team makes Call of Cthulhu worth keeping an eye on.

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M. Hamilton

I write about things when I feel like it. Science, tech, video games and festivals are where it’s at. PSN: Cade5280; XBL: Bateman5280; Steam: Bateman5280. Let us pwn.