Review – The Innsmouth Case

H.P. Lovecraft’s works have inspired countless of games over the past few years, but the vast majority of them follow the same principle: they’re dour, horror-themed, and center around losing your sanity. Examples include Bloodborne, Eternal Darkness, Call of Cthulhu, and The Sinking City. With the exception of the occasional oddball like Tesla vs. Lovecraft, that’s all you can ever find. I don’t think I have ever seen someone trying to craft an actual comedic game out of the works of the most famous racist in literature history. Then The Innsmouth Case came along.

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The Innsmouth Case starts off like your quintessential Lovecraftian mystery. You’re an alcoholic private investigator from Boston. One day, a mysterious woman comes to your office and asks you to look for her missing daughter; a girl who features fish-like qualities, surprise surprise. You accept the job and then take the next bus to good ol’ Innsmouth, and that’s when shenanigans ensue. It’s a mixture of Lovecraftian clichés combined with fourth-wall breaking and the fact that the game is set in modern times, not the early 20th century, in order to provide a unique experience with the source material.

What we got instead is a visual novel trying to disguise itself as a mystery thriller. One with very little interactivity. You read long passages and more inner monologues than your average young adult novel, and then decide on a handful of choices in order to move the plot forward. Depending on your actions, you’ll end up getting one out of more than two dozens endings. Well, they call it “endings”, I call them “various instances of failure that will result in the abrupt end of your investigation”. I appreciate the fact that the game allows you to quickly reload a chapter in order to get different “endings”, adding a bit of replay value to the overall package, but all in all, it’s quite shallow.

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Hur dur dur dur.

The sense of humor was just average at best. At first, the game managed to make me chuckle a few times because I wasn’t expecting it to be set in modern times and for it to feature a constant barrage of sarcastic remarks. With that being said, there are just so many selfie jokes you can make before they start losing their humorous appeal. There was a point in which the game just stopped being funny, not because it wasn’t trying anymore, but because I was getting fed up of its one-dimensional “hur dur” sense of humor.

In terms of presentation, The Innsmouth Case is a bit underwhelming. There’s one thing I liked about it, and that was its character design. Somehow, the developers have managed to make the fish-like inhabitants of Innsmouth look quite adorable in a Tim Burton-esque kind of way. Their animations are very limited, however, as they only show up as near-static images onscreen, moving their bodies every once in a while just to remind us that they are alive and breathing. The sound department is very bland, as it doesn’t feature voice acting or sound effects. It’s a handful of very repetitive low-quality tunes that serve the sole purpose of being background noise for what would have otherwise been a reading session.

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Animal Kingdom? What kind of animal looks even remotely like this thing?

The Innsmouth Case is a game that did an honorable attempt at trying to shake up the cliché nature of Lovecraftian adaptations by offering players a story in modern times with a lot of sarcastic humor. Sadly, it ended up falling flat due to its limited gameplay and the sad fact that its jokes just weren’t funny at all. I appreciate what the developers tried to do in here, but giving the option for the player to sign a contract by writing down the name “xxxNoobSlayerxxx” stopped being funny a while ago. When I entered high school, to be more precise.

 

Graphics: 5.0

I liked the cute yet creepy character design, but besides this, there’s little to mention in here. The entire game is set in the pages of a book, so you’ll mostly look at pieces of paper, words, and the occasional funny character making an appearance.

Gameplay: 5.0

You read long passages and inner monologues, then decide between a few options in order to progress with the plot, and then keep on reading even more passages. It’s as basic as a visual novel can be.

Sound: 4.0

The sound department in The Innsmouth Case is comprised of bland and repetitive background music, and absolutely nothing else.

Fun Factor: 5.0

The idea of bringing Lovecraft’s stories to a more modern, humorous, and laid back setting was commendable, but The Innsmouth Case just isn’t engaging or funny enough to keep you hooked for more than an hour, even with its multiple endings.

Final Verdict: 5.0

The Innsmouth Case is available now on PC.

Reviewed on PC.

A copy of The Innsmouth Casewas provided by the publisher.

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