Monday, December 30, 2013

First Impressions: Call of Cthulhu: Dark Corners of the Earth (PC)

Whoops.  I guess I should have saved my previous post looking back at 2013 for my actual last post in 2013.  I just miscalculated and didn't look at a calendar to confirm my horrible counting skills.  Brain farts aside, let's do another First Impression since Steam's Winter Sale Extravaganza is coming to an end in a few days and a "few" games were purchased.

Call of Cthulhu: Dark Corners of the Earth is a game developed by Headfirst Productions and released by Bethesda Softworks, yes, that Bethesda Softworks.  The game was released on PC and Xbox back in 2006 after being in development for close to four years, so it kind of looks like a PC game from an evolving era.

Now, I'm a sucker for a psychological horror game (a la Eternal Darkness: Sanity's Requiem) based on some of the works by H.P. Lovecraft and Call of Cthulhu (hereby referred to simply as Cthulhu) promises not to disappoint.  Even the opening "Warning" promises the game to play against you:

Now, for me, Cthulhu has some mighty big shoes to fill since for me Eternal Darkness did so much right and with the perfect amount of difficulty while still maintaining a consistent level of "fun."  Presently, after two hours, the only "sanity effects" that I have witnessed have been a shaking of the screen while staring at corpses for too long.  That's a good start to things.  I don't want blood dripping down the screen and my character screaming 15 minutes into the game as there's nowhere to go from there.  You have to start out slow, building the tension.

The Wikipedia article for Cthulhu will tell you that the game has been known to bug out.  Some glitches causing the game to stop working all together or in my case, causing the game to freeze for a second, usually when I click on something in order to examine some abysmal horror, or you know, a first aid kit.  One bug that I have experienced that consistently freezes the game is after you reach Innsmouth and you're ducking around behind buildings, you enter a room and spot a corpse hanging from the ceiling.  The camera zooms in on this body and upon returning to your normal field of vision, the game is stuck.  I can still tilt my view left and right, but moving does not happen.  This happened twice.  I have yet to try and enter said building without looking at the hung corpse.  Luckily though there is a  save spot just outside the door so I do not have to go too far to find a work around.

Once reaching Innsmouth, I became a little conflicted as to the story in the game and potential/intended surprises.  I have read The Shadow Over Innsmouth and I have recognized certain things that are important points in Lovecraft's story.  These are touches to characters and the environment that I wonder if someone not familiar with the story would notice or see as important.  Presently, it genuinely feels like a video game adaptation of the story, which I am not complaining about, but because of how faithful certain details are, I do wonder if there will still be an element of surprise in the story.

One thing that I have noticed is in the writing of journals and diaries from NPCs and the main character.
Now, maybe I'm just being overly anal, but the above passage does not sound as if it were written by a young man in 1922.  The writing sounds very contemporary, which kind of takes me out of the 1922 New England setting.  Maybe it's just because Conklederp and I are reading ghost stories published around the same time.

Another aspect to the game that I am excited about is healing.  The inventory screen shows not only what is in your inventory, but also the health status of Mr. Jack Walters.  
When you bring the cursor over your body, a screen comes up giving you the ability to "repair" different areas of your body with stitches, bandages, splints.  I am kind of excited to see the character with a splinted leg, bandages around his arms and maybe some sutures on/around the facial region.  I am, however, not excited to be in that situation with creatures potentially chasing after me.

So yes, two hours in and despite the occasional bug/glitch, I am enjoying what I have been playing.  Now to see if I can make it through despite the often commented on difficulty of the game itself.  Here's to hoping.

Let His Soul Forever Burn

As a parting gift (of sorts), here are two more screen shots that I did not find a place for in the body of the article.
Jack Walters at his desk, looking over documents before leaving for Innsmouth in 1922.

The cheery hotel lobby in Innsmouth.
So happy new year everyone, and thanks for everything.

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