Call of Cthulhu captures the spirit of Choasium’s pen-and-paper RPG, and brings it to your PC and consoles. At least that was the impression I walked away with after seeing the game in action at Gamescom 2017.
The live demo I saw behind closed doors took place during the second chapter of the game. Protagonist Edward Pierce just arrived at Darkwater Island, and barely even started his investigation into the mysterious death of the whole Hawkins family.
Right from the bet we get a sense something is wrong on the island. We are welcomed by the mutilated carcass of a killer whale laying on the beach. A quick forensic investigation doesn’t reveal much, except that the wound were not caused by any sea animal we know.
Forensics is actually one of the skills Edward possess. The reason we couldn’t learn much from the whale carcass was because our skill was too low. Different skills, like lock-picking, occultism and athleticism, will open different paths, information and gameplay options.
Our main objective during this demo as to investigate an abandoned warehouse near the docks. However, there were also a few side objectives we could complete to gain more information, or earn a favor or two for the locals. The developer playing the demo chose to enter the local tavern. There, they explained how relationships with the NPCs can affect the game.
For example, the barkeep at the tavern doesn’t like us all that much. If you choose to do a few side missions for him, he will open up and reveal a secret passage into the warehouse.
This relationship system also affects the dialog options we have when talking to certain characters. Some won’t even talk to us, while some will slowly provide more information or lore. You will also open more dialog options by investigating the environment for useful clues, and then asking people about them.
After gaining the barkeeps trust and chatting with a few fishermen, we headed towards the warehouse through the secret passage I mentioned earlier. That was when we encountered the first signs of the Mythos. I won’t go into details, so not to ruin the surprise. However, the devs took the opportunity to get into how sanity (and insanity) works as a game mechanic.
Call of Cthulhu isn’t a game for the faint of heart, as you might have imagined. You will see weird, horrible and unexplained things, and Edward is just human after all. As the game progresses and his sanity depletes, you will start seeing hallucinations and hear voices. According to the devs, the lines between what’s real and what isn’t will start to blur the deeper your investigation gets. What we saw on the way to the warehouse was indeed weird and unexplained, but it doesn’t even scratch the surface of things to come.
The thing is, we didn’t have to have that encounter. Going through the underground passage is just one way of entering the warehouse. We could have threaten a couple of guards, or sneak our way in. It all depends on what kind of player you are, and what skills you invest in.
After we searched the warehouse and discovered someone (or something) was living there, we promptly left to continue the investigation. But someone was waiting for us outside. Apparently, if you can’t talk your way out of a situation – you can try and punch your way out. You don’t control the fight, and it seems like the outcome depends on your skill level.
Unfortunately, the fight didn’t go well for us, and the demo ended with a literal kick in the balls.
Call of Cthulhu absolutely has that Lovecraftian vibe to it, and adds a layer of investigation RPG to it. The game is based on the pen-and-paper RPG by Chaosium, and several writers who created popular campaigns for Chaosium worked on the game’s story.
Call of Cthulhu comes out in December on PC, PlayStation 4 and Xbox One. According to the developers, the campaign will last between 12 and 15 hours on your first playthrough.Some of our posts include links to online retail stores. We get a small cut if you buy something through one of our links. Don't worry, it doesn't cost you anything extra.