Monday, February 14, 2011

Call of Cthulhu: Dark Corners of the Earth Review

Call of Cthulhu: Dark Corners of the EarthI sincerely hope anyone who has never played the Call of Cthulhu RPG or read any Lovecraft will give this game a shot. You've all heard of Cthulhu by nowand may not know what the Cthulhu mythos means. This is a great introduction. It's incredibly faithful to the original Lovecraft texts and to the RPG rules. So if you LIKE CoC:DCotE video/PC game, you should move on to buying the CoC RPG or going to the Chaosium (publisher of CoC RPG) website and downloading the free quickstart rules and giving it a whirl.

Someone said that you can't skip cut scenes which is untrue. Backspace on your PC keyboard will skip any of those long cut scenes. You can do it on XBox, too.

Some people out in the community have had technical problems with the game. These issues for the PC will never be fixed/patched as Headfirst, the developer of CoC:DCotE, went under and Bethesda, the publisher, will not hire anyone to fix the problems. I play the PC version and I have had only a few problems. In one scene you're supposed to shoot at blue lights; but my video card on my laptop isn't powerful, so the lights didn't show up. Luckily, the community for this game is currently very strong, even after 5 months of release. You can download saved games to help you get past sections that are too difficult or that you can't get past or technical reasons (see my blue light example above). One person at the Bethesda user forums has even offered to get you a custom saved game to get you past the section you're stuck on for free; just email him.

There is a scary factor to the game, but it cheats at this--it will cut to something scary and make a loud noise. That's fine. I was scared along the way, although nothing was as originally scary as the hotel level in Vampire: Bloodlines. The game is still dark and creepy and the architecture, lighting, weather effects, etc. do a lot to put you in a horror mood.

The gameplay isn't as bad as everyone says. It's just that the latter levels require more shooting which makes it less Lovecraftian. However, the game still requires you to do a lot of investigation (as done in the stories) and your character gives you lots of feedback so you aren't searching every pixel on the screen ("Just some old papers. It's not important.") And I had an absolute blast with the game as-is--not too much combat, not too much puzzle-solving. I'd consider myself an average-competent gamer and I found that level 2 difficulty out of 4 was just fine for me and the puzzles weren't too difficult. If you find them hard, there are walkthroughs available on the web.

Your character gives you feedback based on his mental state. If he's had a shot of morphine, the screen gets blurry. He's afraid of heights, so you'll get vertigo when you look down a drop and will need to look up for a few seconds to get rid of it. If he's terrified, the screen will start distorting as he loses his sanity. If he's bleeding to death, the screen will go black and white as he loses blood. If he's poisoned, there is a green film on the edges of the screen. It's all very cool.

Combat is neat too. No heads-up reticles to ruin the mood. What you see down the barrel of the gun in front of you is what you hit. And no ammo count either. You have to do that yourself. I like that; it adds to the realism. Also, if you hold the gun in the aimed position for too long your hands start getting tired and wobbling, making it harder to hit something. Very neat!

In conclusion, give CoC a shot and judge for yourself. Even if the game isn't that original (I happen to think it is), you will at least get the best multimedia presentation of Lovecraft Country out there.

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Product Description:
Call of Cthulhu: Dark Corners of the Earth is a spine-chilling story with classic survival/horror gameplay, where you face evil that seems impossible to stop. Set in the 1920s, you'll be thrown headfirst into the world of H.P. Lovecraft's famous Cthulu mythology. The storyline brings to life all the unthinkable evils, psychic possessions, and mythical worlds it pioneered. Draw upon your skills in exploration, investigation, and combat while battling evil incarnate.

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