Cyanide Studios and Focus Home Interactive have put together an adaptation of Chaosium's pen and paper RPG, which is an investigation game filled with psychological horror and stealth mechanics. But the thing about Call of Cthulhu as we've seen it so far, is that the kind of psychological horror in the game doesn't match the source material. The Cthulhu Mythos is one of the largest shared universes and is arguably the most well known of Lovecraft's mythos.
And, I'll be honest, the fluff of the game sounds great. From the PR pitch:
Plunge into the troubled mind of private investigator Edward Pierce, as his perception of reality becomes more and more skewed the closer he gets to the Great Dreamer's sphere of influence. Clutch to your withering sanity to discover the conspiracies, the cultists and otherworldly terrors that inhabit the twisted universe imagined by Lovecraft… it is said that madness is the only way that can bring you to the truth.
Sent to Darkwater Island to uncover the truth behind a mysterious death of a family, your original assignment spirals out of control against a backdrop of suspicious locals, mutilated whales, and disappearing bodies. Pierce's mind will suffer – balancing a razor-thin line between sanity and madness, your senses will be disrupted until you question the reality of everything around you. Trust no one. Creeping shadows hide lurking figures… and all the while, the Great Dreamer prepares for his awakening.
Sounds great, right? But then you see the list of key features.
- Investigative RPG set in the Lovecraft Universe, developed with Unreal Engine 4.
- Play as Edward Pierce and shed light on Sarah Hawkins murder, while facing the horrors of a grim island filled with monstrosities lurking in the dark.
- Doubt your own senses and experience true madness, thanks to the game's unique sanity and psychosis crisis mechanics. Enhance your character's abilities and use new skills to discover the truth.
- Recruit and lead a small team of investigators, sending them across the island to solve various cases.
- Experience rich, open exploration, full of deep dialogue with meaningful choices that impact the narrative and relationships with your companions.
Which, sure, seems pretty solid. Except, there's a murder investigation, cultists, a sanity and psychosis mechanic, and somehow in all that we're supposed to witness Cthulhu? I'm almost entirely certain that this game would be fantastic if it were set in literally any other universe than in the Lovecraftian wold of Cthulhu.
When reading any of Lovecrafts work, you are struck by the fact that you don't know what reality is anymore. No part of the story feels real, but so much of it makes a logical progression up until that ultimate madness-inducing encounter with the otherworldly. And given what we see in the E3 trailer for Call of Cthulhu, the game feels too set in reality. The hallucinations are spooky, but they scream of a rip in space-time and not of the screeching horror of Lovecraft. In Lovecraft's mythos, contact with the otherworldly, with an Ancient One, is the sort of thing that shreds your conscious mind into pieces and then melts the remains. It is the sort of thing that results in unending shrieking terror.
And what we've got from Cyanide Studios so far just seems like a bad acid trip after watching a Noir film.
That's just not going to cut it.
Call of Cthulhu is being developed for PlayStation 4, Xbox One and PC. You can watch the E3 trailer below.