Zeboyd Games' Cthulhu Saves the World has hit Xbox Live Indie Games just in time before the new year.
Believe it or not, one of my most anticipated releases of 2010 was Cthulhu Saves the World, an Xbox Live Indie Games followup to Zeboyd Games' retro parody RPG Breath of Death VII: The Beginning. Zeboyd revealed that it really needed to get Cthulhu out before the end of 2010 so that it could bring in enough revenue to continue uninterrupted game development, and possibly go at it full-time, but was only able to release the game with two days to spare. Thankfully, if you're an RPG fan or bought Breath of Death and enjoyed it, it's definitely a must buy.
Cthulhu Saves the World is a 2D RPG with 16-bit retro-style graphics that follows Cthulhu, the tentacle-faced high priest of the Old Gods, in a 6-10 hour adventure as he tries to regain his power that was stripped from him by an unknown entity. Cthulhu can only do so by becoming a true hero, which he learns from the game's narrator, as a perfect example of how Cthulhu Saves the World breaks the fourth wall to insert moments of hilarity and to parody conventions of RPGs. Cthulhu is still the same evil bastard he's always been, but has to do some heroic deeds before destroying the world for good.
Cthulhu Saves the World is worth playing for two reasons: the silly, enjoyable story and unique JRPG-style gameplay. It might look like Final Fantasy or Dragon Quest, but it plays in a way that is particular to itself. The player's party characters regain all of their health and some magic points after every battle, so the challenge level of combat is a bit tougher than going up against wave after wave of weak slimes. Boss fights require smart thinking, especially because monsters get more powerful with each successive turn. Cthulhu Saves the World also gives players the choice of similar, but smartly different abilities or improvements as characters level up, providing the ability to customize them to your liking.
If it sounds similar to Breath of Death, that's because it is, but everything seems to have been improved over Zeboyd's previous effort. Every part of the game looks better, from the overworld to the environments to the monster sprites in battle, and Zeboyd has also added really cool comic book-style cutscenes this time. Additionally, there are multiple difficultly levels, 7 playable characters, extensions to the battle system that include 20 multi-character unite attacks and an insanity system (Cthulhu does make everyone around him go insane, after all), and 3 bonus modes called score attack, highlander, and overkill.
Intelligent design decisions make Cthulhu an enjoyable play, such as the way that only 25 random battles will be fought in each area before they end, allowing players to grind up levels through a menu choice at their leisure instead. Zeboyd recently announced that it sold 40,000 copies of Breath of Death at $1 each, so there's obviously a following out there for these kinds of titles. In my opinion, Cthulhu Saves the World is a better product in every way, and well worth the slightly additional cost of 240 Microsoft Points ($3). Due to Microsoft's Xbox Live Indie Games pay schedule, Zeboyd's team of two seems to be relying on sales from December 30-31 so that they can keep developing products like this in the near future, so keep that in mind if it sounds interesting to you. It was worth $3 to me just to see Cthulhu have a pint with a zombie.
Cthulhu Saves the World can be purchased here