Look, I get it. If you’re a fan of that Lovecraft fella, you’ve recently been served about as well as Predator fans have been by the most recent silver-screen effort in the series.
The future, however, is wonderfully and horrifyingly dark. Here are four reasons why you should be excited to strap on a fresh pair of underwear in anticipation of Lovecraft’s return to video games.
Call of Cthulhu – PS4, Xbox One, PC (October 30, 2018)
A first-person adventure that combines sleuthing, horror and puzzle solving in equal measure, Call of Cthulhu from Cyanide Studio puts players in the shiny shoes of investigator Edward Pierce as he ventures to the not-at-all forebodingly named Darkwater Island to investigate the mysterious death of an affluent family.
Based upon the pen and paper RPG of the same name, Call of Cthulhu is shaping up to be an endlessly atmospheric affair that thrusts players into the dark midst of Lovecraft mythology, tasking them to infiltrate a cult and prevent the Great Dreamer from emerging in our reality to do lots of horrible, Great Dreamy type things.
Naturally, this being a work based on Lovecraft lore you can expect plenty of psychological horrors and in this sense especially, Call of Cthulhu does not disappoint. Harkening back to the halcyon days of Eternal Darkness on the Nintendo Gamecube, Call of Cthulhu weaponizes your fear by employing a wide range of disturbing audiovisual trickery to keep you decidedly off-kilter, such as creeping shadows and murmuring voices.
Boasting an in-depth, nonlinear conversation system, multiple pathways through the narrative and some actual, honest-to-Cthulhu puzzles that actually tax the grey matter rather than making you pray it was spilling out of your ears, Call of Cthulhu is shaping up to be superlative take on Lovecraft that we all hoped it would be.
The Sinking City – PS4, Xbox One, PC (March 21, 2019)
If Call of Cthulhu is a claustrophobic, tightly focused detective adventure then The Sinking City arguably finds itself veering towards the other end of the spectrum. Developed by Frogwares, that ultra-talented bunch whose practiced hands fashioned the Sherlock Holmes range of games, The Sinking City takes Lovecraft inspired mythology and transplants it into an open-world setting against the historical backdrop of the American Roaring Twenties.
Set in the half-submerged city of Oakmont on the eastern coast of the United States, The Sinking City is a third-person perspective open-world adventure that has players venturing to this doomed place to investigate a mysterious corruption that has bewitched its citizens.
With a primary emphasis on exploration and discovery, The Sinking City begs that players delve into its nightmarish, waterlogged expanse as its sprawling open-world permits and encourages exploration by foot, boat and even via scuba gear, too.
Neatly supplementing its core appeal is a detective style system that enables players to speak to the locals to gain valuable insight into events, discover and examine evidence and finally, if the situation calls of it, engage in combat with the hopelessly enthralled or other, unknown horrors of the deep.
Topping off the whole, grim package with some great art direction, multiple endings and some properly weapons-grade, pant-filling scares (not to mention a slew of highly inventive and truly grotesque enemy designs), The Sinking City looks like it’ll do more than a grand job in adapting Lovecraftian mythology to the open-world template when it launches early next year.
Achtung! Cthulhu Tactics – PC (Oct 4, 2018), PS4 & Xbox One (Later in 2018)
Moving away from the action adventure trappings of the previous two games, Achtung! Cthulhu Tactics transplants the action into a turn-based strategy setting. Imagine XCOM but with extra Nazis, tentacles and fish-face bits, and you’re most of the way there to understanding what Achtung! Cthulhu Tactics is all about.
Taking place at the tail end of the Second World War, Achtung! Cthulhu Tactics puts wannabe Lovecraftian tacticians in command of a crack squad of allied troops that have been dropped behind enemy lines. The mission? To prevent those pesky Nazi lads from channeling the powers of the Cthulhu himself and winning the war.
Though fans of XCOM and efforts from the genre will immediately be drawn to Achtung! Cthulhu Tactics turn-based brand of tactical warfare, this game does things a little differently from others in the genre. Chiefly, one area of difference that developer Auroch Digital are keen to emphasize is a feature called ‘The Shroud’ – an encroaching blanket of darkness that lends the Cthulhu and his Nazi mates special bonuses and improved abilities.
Though very different from the usual, more adventure-based shenanigans that Lovecraft’s texts seem predisposed to, Achtung! Cthulhu Tactics nonetheless looks to succeed as a darkly delicious hybrid of turn-based strategy and Cthulhuian menace when it releases next month.
The Return of Alone in the Dark (TBA)
A far cry from the series roots in the early 90s where the first three titles in the franchise deftly combined puzzling solving, survival horror and Lovecraftian menace, the last time we saw Alone in the Dark (not counting the immeasurably trashy movie adaptations) was in the series ill-fated Alone in the Dark: Illumination, which was roughly as entertaining as jamming a pair of rusty spoons into your ears.
Fast forward to the present day, however, and ravenous IP gobbler THQ Nordic seems intent on reinvigorating the series, now that the European super-publisher has now taken ownership of the Alone in the Dark franchise.
Though no games or platforms have been announced as yet, I’d pretty much take a Resident Evil Remake-style spin on the original Alone in the Dark at this point, even if a whole new reboot on the series seems the more likely avenue that the new custodians of the IP will likely journey down.
Either way, it’s good to Alone in the Dark back and on the bright side at least, it’s difficult to imagine THQ Nordic screwing the whole thing up quite as catastrophically or as spectacularly as Atari did all those years ago.