Call of Cthulhu: Dark Corners of the Earth - Four Out Of Fhtagn Stars

Call of Cthulhu: Dark Corners of the Earth - Four Out Of Fhtagn Stars

Good Old Reviews loses its sanity in Call of Cthulhu: Dark Corners of the Earth.

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I always felt like DCOTE was two games lopped into one. Straight up weaponless horror, and then there was the armed section, which I wasn't so sure what to think of. I felt powerful, the enemies around me were fish-people who clearly didn't know how to handle a gun quite right. But the thing about guns was that you didn't need to know how to handle them properly to land a shot, and kill Jack, as quite easily evidenced in the street chase.

And then in the latest stages, the game took your guns away. THAT, was terrifying... But i was able to beat it. To me, it was just the right level of scary, and I wish I could go back and replay it properly.

I've been thinking about getting this game for ages now. Really sounds like my kind of thing!

OH, maybe it's on sale for Halloween! Must check...

The PC version was horrible buggy mess that never got fixed. To this day there are bugs that you have change resolution to get past. I never finished the game because it was too frustrating to get around the bugs.

I fond this game intensely frustrating. Maybe its a side effect of being raised on more modern shooters but the lack of a sprint button made thins game feel too sluggish to be enjoyable and the scare factor goes away once you realize that almost any enemy can be killed if you wait around a corner and aim for the head.

Does the Escapist have to post spoiler pics of every game they review, and on the damn front page? It seems like I've seen the monsters for every horror game from Amnesia to Silent Hill to CoC, all against my wishes. God help those unwitting visitors to the Escapist who are scared of monsters and scary stuff, and I wouldn't be surprised if you've caused a few heart attacks.

Blood Brain Barrier:
Does the Escapist have to post spoiler pics of every game they review, and on the damn front page? It seems like I've seen the monsters for every horror game from Amnesia to Silent Hill to CoC, all against my wishes. God help those unwitting visitors to the Escapist who are scared of monsters and scary stuff, and I wouldn't be surprised if you've caused a few heart attacks.

Um, what?

That front page image is the game cover.

image

I wouldn't consider anything in those images spoilers. But even if they were, there's far more to the game and its monsters than those six screenshots.

Even better for an armed horror protagonist, eldritch creatures would probably be the last things alive(?) to be affected by mere bullets. At the very least, anyone afflicted with insanity wouldn't know where to aim, and if you're fighting a Shoggoth that's not even an issue in the first place.

There were a lot of great things about this game: the lack of HUD really helped with the immersion; the atmosphere, from the graphics to the voice acting, was intensely moody and creepy. And the writing was spot on in capturing the spirit of Lovecraft.

But the gameplay absolutely killed it for me. I only made half way through before giving up in frustration.

Calling the game "linear" is a severe understatement. There is only one solution to the challenges you encounter. And if you don't solve it in exactly the manner the game wants, you are forced to repeat the level until you do.

The "iconic hotel escape scene" mentioned in the review was an utter pain in the ass. The player had to complete a very specific sequence of events in a set time frame. If you missed even one thing, you had to do it all over again. On top of this, the sluggish controls made it an utter beating.

After encountering some more of these repetitive and timed sequences, the game just became a grind for me.

But we live in the post Dark Souls world now, so maybe it's time to hear The Call of Cthulhu once again.

Fanghawk:

Blood Brain Barrier:
Does the Escapist have to post spoiler pics of every game they review, and on the damn front page? It seems like I've seen the monsters for every horror game from Amnesia to Silent Hill to CoC, all against my wishes. God help those unwitting visitors to the Escapist who are scared of monsters and scary stuff, and I wouldn't be surprised if you've caused a few heart attacks.

Um, what?

That front page image is the game cover.

image

I wouldn't consider anything in those images spoilers. But even if they were, there's far more to the game and its monsters than those six screenshots.

Well I haven't played CoC but the main monster for Amnesia has been displayed on the Escapist main page at least a dozen times.

Its one of the few games you have to play on easy since you will never get past the truck part on any higher difficulty.

I was replaying this game last night. And...its okay?
I mean in the beginning when its just dude chasing you its a complete waste of the Lovecraft mythos. Yes, the fishermen are cultists sure, but where are the big baddies?! The ones that are unique to Lovecraft and aren't just jerks.
Afterward you get a weapon or two its slightly better. Its not all trial/error save scumming. But it becomes too easy. The fishpeople just go down after a few crowbar hits.

Don't get me wrong, its probably the best Lovecraft game(if we're not including Amnesia and Machine for Pigs) but it leaves a lot to be desired. The LoveCraft I remember from the books was admittedly hit or miss, but when it was a hit it was truly sinister. Dark beyond imagining(literally that's the wording used to describe something). This game just has jerks being jerks and the occasional Murloc asking for a double-barrel breakfast.

I guess if another game comes out like "Dark Corners of the Earth", I think it should also take a cue from the the board game Arkham Horror (as in the Lovecraft town of Arkham, Massachusetts, not the Batman Arkham Asylum), where it's a TEAM of investigators trying to solve mysteries related to one of several Lovecraftian entities. The gameplay differences of "weaponless horror" and "horror with weapons" can also apply to different characters - a scientist or librarian may tackle sections more on searching for clues and avoiding monsters, while a hard-boiled detective or Tommy Gun-toting gangster can engage in more gunfights and battles, but have harder sanity penalties when confronting horrific sights. There can even be magicians or shamans who dabble with actual magic spells, and how they can offer both great power in battle BUT also considerable prices for health and sanity. There could be a larger variety of enemies, more plots to unfold related to specific Ancient Ones, (like a cursed Egyptian museum exhibit for the Dark Pharaoh, or the madness-inducing play The King in Yellow), and being able to visit other places in Lovecraft Country like Dunwich or Kingsport.

While "Dark Corners of the Earth" would probably only be a passable prototype of a game by today's standards, its a prototype that can easily lay down a literally cosmic level of survival horror, if a developer is willing to take a complete plunge into the Lovecraft Mythos and all of its madness.

MaddKossack115:
I guess if another game comes out like "Dark Corners of the Earth", I think it should also take a cue from the the board game Arkham Horror (as in the Lovecraft town of Arkham, Massachusetts, not the Batman Arkham Asylum), where it's a TEAM of investigators trying to solve mysteries related to one of several Lovecraftian entities. The gameplay differences of "weaponless horror" and "horror with weapons" can also apply to different characters - a scientist or librarian may tackle sections more on searching for clues and avoiding monsters, while a hard-boiled detective or Tommy Gun-toting gangster can engage in more gunfights and battles, but have harder sanity penalties when confronting horrific sights. There can even be magicians or shamans who dabble with actual magic spells, and how they can offer both great power in battle BUT also considerable prices for health and sanity. There could be a larger variety of enemies, more plots to unfold related to specific Ancient Ones, (like a cursed Egyptian museum exhibit for the Dark Pharaoh, or the madness-inducing play The King in Yellow), and being able to visit other places in Lovecraft Country like Dunwich or Kingsport.

While "Dark Corners of the Earth" would probably only be a passable prototype of a game by today's standards, its a prototype that can easily lay down a literally cosmic level of survival horror, if a developer is willing to take a complete plunge into the Lovecraft Mythos and all of its madness.

The whole Team thing would also be interesting if its multiplayer, and makes use of subjective experience - Who's screen is right? The one that sees the sleeping Shoggoth, or the one that sees a bus?

DCotE is one of those games that manages to succeed despite its flaws. And boy howdy does it have flaws- it's buggy as hell, the graphics were nothing to write back to R'lyeh about even back when the game released, there are a few tightly-timed sequences that punish any mistakes, there's some forced stealth (which I always despise in any game not built around stealth), and Jack's voice acting is wildly inconsistent (some actually creepy half-crazed whispering could be interrupted by him describing a gruesome scene with all the emotion of a bored accountant telling you about 401(k) plans).

But despite all this, the game manages to present a dreary, oppressive, sometimes downright alien atmosphere. Jack never stops feeling like a frail, vulnerable normal human being, against forces that the sane simply can't comprehend, and the game has some honestly memorable moments of tension or terror. In an era where we were still under a deluge of space marines and super-soldiers, it was a refreshing, if sometimes aggravating, alternative. If only the devs had given it more spit-n-polish, it could've really shined, and I'm sad that we've seen so little in its vein since then.

Scow2:

MaddKossack115:
I guess if another game comes out like "Dark Corners of the Earth", I think it should also take a cue from the the board game Arkham Horror (as in the Lovecraft town of Arkham, Massachusetts, not the Batman Arkham Asylum), where it's a TEAM of investigators trying to solve mysteries related to one of several Lovecraftian entities. The gameplay differences of "weaponless horror" and "horror with weapons" can also apply to different characters - a scientist or librarian may tackle sections more on searching for clues and avoiding monsters, while a hard-boiled detective or Tommy Gun-toting gangster can engage in more gunfights and battles, but have harder sanity penalties when confronting horrific sights. There can even be magicians or shamans who dabble with actual magic spells, and how they can offer both great power in battle BUT also considerable prices for health and sanity. There could be a larger variety of enemies, more plots to unfold related to specific Ancient Ones, (like a cursed Egyptian museum exhibit for the Dark Pharaoh, or the madness-inducing play The King in Yellow), and being able to visit other places in Lovecraft Country like Dunwich or Kingsport.

While "Dark Corners of the Earth" would probably only be a passable prototype of a game by today's standards, its a prototype that can easily lay down a literally cosmic level of survival horror, if a developer is willing to take a complete plunge into the Lovecraft Mythos and all of its madness.

The whole Team thing would also be interesting if its multiplayer, and makes use of subjective experience - Who's screen is right? The one that sees the sleeping Shoggoth, or the one that sees a bus?

Actually, that may open up a new take on the Sanity effects. Obviously, there are chances that dangerously low-sanity characters start hallucinating monsters that high sanity characters can point out as being normal objects and people, BUT what if some objects or people are disguised monsters, and ones those with low sanity (or a high Lore score, which would be safer but harder to build up over the game) can see. For example, a character suffering from low sanity may see a character in a trenchcoat as a violent, man-hunting ghoul, but a high sanity character won't be able to recognize it until it bursts out and tries to tear their head off

I enjoyed this game when I played it, but I never managed to get past the ice sequence due to how badly done it is... and I had to cheat to get through the chase sequence because I simply didn't have the reflexes to pull it off properly.

UmberHulk:
I fond this game intensely frustrating. Maybe its a side effect of being raised on more modern shooters but the lack of a sprint button made thins game feel too sluggish to be enjoyable and the scare factor goes away once you realize that almost any enemy can be killed if you wait around a corner and aim for the head.

What are you talking about? There WAS a sprint button, but it sapped your ability to aim and it made any wounds bleed out faster.

albino boo:
The PC version was horrible buggy mess that never got fixed. To this day there are bugs that you have change resolution to get past. I never finished the game because it was too frustrating to get around the bugs.

This was also me, sadly. I never got to finish the damned thing because the save system didn't work. Anything other than autosave automatically got corrupted and even when I got right up to Devil's Reef, even the autosave didn't work - meaning I'd have had to finish the game in one life starting from the ship.

Other than that, spectacular game.

Fanghawk:

The only thing more insidious would be if Call of Cthulhu offered achievements for each horrific piece of knowledge gained.

Please, no. Don't do that. Don't ever do that. FEAR 3 did this and it was the single greatest immersion-breaking element of the whole game. I shit you not:

Sneak, sneak, sneak, something creepy on the other side of a foggy window, keep to the shadows, lights dim, oddly disturbing whispering on the edge of your hearing, music starts making that creepy scuttling sound from Alien films, round a corner and find a rotting corpse - GIANT PURPLE SPLASHSCREEN SAYING CONGRATULATIONS YOU FOUND A CORPSE! 1/13 FOR THIS LEVEL!

Completely ruined any kind of atmosphere they'd built up. The game itself had a few good scary moments, but most of them were ruined by whatever twat decided FEAR needed intrusive social elements (because of course your badges are also compared to your friends') and giant Fisher Price achievement splashscreens.

ExileNZ:

UmberHulk:
I fond this game intensely frustrating. Maybe its a side effect of being raised on more modern shooters but the lack of a sprint button made thins game feel too sluggish to be enjoyable and the scare factor goes away once you realize that almost any enemy can be killed if you wait around a corner and aim for the head.

What are you talking about? There WAS a sprint button, but it sapped your ability to aim and it made any wounds bleed out faster.

There was? Well now I feel stupid.

UmberHulk:

ExileNZ:

UmberHulk:
I fond this game intensely frustrating. Maybe its a side effect of being raised on more modern shooters but the lack of a sprint button made thins game feel too sluggish to be enjoyable and the scare factor goes away once you realize that almost any enemy can be killed if you wait around a corner and aim for the head.

What are you talking about? There WAS a sprint button, but it sapped your ability to aim and it made any wounds bleed out faster.

There was? Well now I feel stupid.

Okay, correction: apparently that was only patched into the PC version. If you played it on Xbox then chances are you had no way to run (but at least your save system worked).

BeerTent:
I always felt like DCOTE was two games lopped into one. Straight up weaponless horror, and then there was the armed section, which I wasn't so sure what to think of. I felt powerful, the enemies around me were fish-people who clearly didn't know how to handle a gun quite right. But the thing about guns was that you didn't need to know how to handle them properly to land a shot, and kill Jack, as quite easily evidenced in the street chase.

And then in the latest stages, the game took your guns away. THAT, was terrifying... But i was able to beat it. To me, it was just the right level of scary, and I wish I could go back and replay it properly.

It was also two stories in one. The prologue is from "The Shadow Out of Time" as is the backstory with the Yithians and memory loss. The rest is an adaptation of "The Shadow Over Innsmouth".

Fanghawk:

Blood Brain Barrier:
Does the Escapist have to post spoiler pics of every game they review, and on the damn front page? It seems like I've seen the monsters for every horror game from Amnesia to Silent Hill to CoC, all against my wishes. God help those unwitting visitors to the Escapist who are scared of monsters and scary stuff, and I wouldn't be surprised if you've caused a few heart attacks.

Um, what?

That front page image is the game cover.

image

I wouldn't consider anything in those images spoilers. But even if they were, there's far more to the game and its monsters than those six screenshots.

I'm just going to say that is a mind-numbingly stupid cover for a Lovecraft-inspired game. Lovecraft's monsters were unfathomable abominations, not explicitly rendered creatures for perusal before you've even encountered them. This is probably the same reason that Lovecraftian games - especially shooters where you face off against monsters every 5 seconds - generally suck. The more subtle games like Shadow of the Comet, are vastly superior. Or Amnesia, even.

DCotE is one of those games where it sounds like a great idea, but the execution is pretty terrible. The game is a decent creepy sneaky game but a crappy FPS once guns are introduced and everything after you initially escape is pretty lackluster. It's a shame because the federal raid on Innsmouth is somethign I'd wanted to see and instead ends up being a terrible COD clone(not the mention the whole bit on the ship shows an appalling lack of research, not to mention being buggy as hell).

So while I like the atmosphere, the gameplay and bugs are more then enough to ruin it for me.

 

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