E3 Preview – Call of Cthulhu
Way Too Many Games had the opportunity to watch a long and detailed demo of the long awaited horror-RPG hybrid Call of Cthulhu at Focus Home Interactive’s booth at E3 2018. Based off the famous tabletop RPG of the same name, Call of Cthulhu was initially announced four years ago and underwent several delays and redesigns. I liked the demo I got to see, but I am sure the game is still a bit far from its release date.
Call of Cthulhu is an odd mix between a first-person adventure, a horror title, and a virtual tabletop RPG. There was no combat in the demo, nor any actual showcase of cosmic creatures or actual threats, but I was able to see some main aspects of the gameplay.
You play as a private investigator, so solving crimes is one of the main aspects of the game. One of the main elements showcased during the demo was the ability to trigger crime scene recreations in your head, with said recreations becoming more and more detailed the more clues you find. I can only assume the recreations will become more and more nonsensical the more sanity you lose (this is a Lovecraftian title, so I can only assume this will be a big factor). Finding clues and triggering those scenes will increase the amount of dialogue options you’ll have when talking to NPCs. This L.A. Noire-esque segment of the game was intriguing without a doubt, but there were more interesting gameplay elements showcased as well.
One thing I really liked about Call of Cthulhu is the fact the developers are implementing tabletop RPG elements into the game, paying tribute to its main source of inspiration (besides the book, of course). Your character has six attributes that can be increased with experience points: Intimidation, Eloquence (think of it as “persuasion”), Psychology, Forensics, Occultism, and Investigation. Those attributes can determine the chances of succeeding at determined scenarios, just like rolling dice when playing an RPG.
One of the examples showcased during the demo was one scenario involving a secret passageway located behind a bookshelf. You could either solve a puzzle located at a nearby terrestrial globe, or use your Intimidation skills in order to break the bookshelf’s mechanism and open the passageway yourself. The game gives you a success percentage prior to the confirmation of the action, just like an RPG would. The developer calls these scenarios “skill tests”.
As previously stated, no combat (if there’s even combat in this game), no monsters, no cultists, and no effects of insanity were showcased during the demo. What the developers showed us was obviously very early into the game, which is confirmed to be about 18 to 20 hours long. Was that a disappointment? A bit, but at the same time, I’m glad I wasn’t spoiled. I can see this game having a nice buildup until things start getting really crazy.
One negative aspect of the demo was its visual department. Call of Cthulhu is clearly far from its intended release date seeing as its graphics still need some extra tinkering. The textural quality isn’t ideal yet, the characters lack proper facial animations, and lip syncing is still faulty. Besides this, the actual environments look somber and unsettling, which is the most important aspect for a horror game. I’m really curious about the visual effects caused by the gradual loss of sanity, something I wasn’t able to see in this demo.
I’m glad Call of Cthulhu is slowly but surely leaving development hell. Despite some concerns regarding the visuals, I liked what I saw gameplay-wise. There’s a lot of potential here and this can easily be the spiritual successor to Eternal Darkness we’ve been waiting for.