2006 Reviews

Call of Cthulhu: Dark Corners of the Earth

  • Review Date: 2011-02
  • Release Date: 2005-10
  • Developer: Headfirst Productions
  • Rating: 6.0

Headfirst Productions created this game and then started a couple of sequels before going into liquidation and closing down. So Call Of Cthulhu is the only game we'll ever seen from them, which is a shame because this showed a lot of professionalism for a first title.

It's by no means perfect, the gameplay is quite flawed. But where Call Of Cthulhu shines (metaphorically, certainly not literally!) is in it's atmosphere and environments. The engine is decent but obviously won't give id tech or unreal engine a for their money. The level designs are adequate with just enough detail. But the atmosphere itself is very well realised for the Lovecraft universe. The journey takes you through the town of Innsmouth, represented in dark, claustrophobia complete with sea monsters and dangerous cultist. You'll sneak and fight your way through buildings, factories and a refinery before the game takes a turn and places you on a coast guard ship, completed with a massive attack from the giant Dagon.

You wash up Devil's Reef and end the game in an epic but unfortunately confusing chapter through underground (and underwater) caves and temples.

So the game and story feel like a Lovecraft creation. They fit well, as does the constant reminder of otherworldy creatures stalking you.

Where Call Of Cthulhu fails is it's gameplay. And at least for me, it failed miserably. I was hoping for something more action and fun. The first half of the game is spent in stealth mode. But the stealth is unsophisticated and holds nothing on the Thief or Splinter Cell series'. You eventually get some weapons and play the rest of the game with a mix of stealth and firepower. Unfortunately the enemies pack a punch and can hurt your health quite quickly. Combine this with unlimited spawns in some instances and very limited health/ammo and Call Of Cthulhu is a challenging game. That alone is fine; that's how Headfirst Productions intended it. But then comes the biggest issue - this is a challenging stealth based game with NO QUICKSAVE! Instead you get poorly placed checkpoints. A number of times you'll be forced to play long periods multiple times due to difficult encounters or even badly placed instant death traps.

While this game make look a few years dated in 2006, it's atmosphere is pulled off well. But it could have been an infinitely more popular game, in my opinion, if they took a more action-oriented approach and ditched the stealth completely by the second or third level. Add in a proper quicksave, some better weapons and some puzzles that were a bit clearer.

As it is now, the only reason to play this game is for the dark atmosphere and interesting story, and that's not enough.