Call of Cthulhu: Dark Corners of the Earth
Call of Cthulhu: Dark Corners of the Earth seems to have jumped from a dark hole onto the market. Although it was announced years ago, this horror action-adventure faced a lot of delay, with as result that everyone forgot it existed. Although here and there some aspects show the long development time, the makers have delivered a big surprise
Not only is the game surprisingly strong, also the content lets you now and then leap from your chair. With as source the work of the American writer H.P. Lovecraft, you can expect a quality story with a good shot of horror.
The main character (you) is Jack Walters, a private detective from the beginning of last century. A person has gone missin and you of course get to solve the mystery. Soon you find out that there’s something wrong in the town you can snoop around! Not only do things look a bit dusty, but the people seem to know more than they want to tell. It isn’t before long that you discover more than is healthy for yourself and you get confronted with all kinds of dark cults, religion, and… the rest you’ll have to find out for youself! The end is definitely worth sacrificing 15 hours of game playing.
Some research by myself quickly learned that the author of the story loves horror a lot, but then the type of horror that drives people insane. We find that back in the game; Jack has had a period in the past in which he was a little weaker mentally. Meanwhile, he’s got all his sanity back, but in his new adventure he gets it rough. You would get crazy again for less and that’s what you’ll experience in the game as well. You’ll be able to transcend from your body, or your character will start brabbling against himself during a panic attack. Luckily a save point will get you back to earth with both feet.
The first minutes of the game you’ll notice 4 things: everything looks very atmospheric, the story is strong, the graphics are a lot less and you think you’ll get an average first person gameplay on your dish. The first three things become facts, the forth (luckily) doesn’t. You’ll have to do unarmed detective work a lot more than just shooting around.
From all the different sequences, the shooting is the least spectacular, although the choice of weaponry is original and feels authentic. You don’t play the game for that, however, since these parts are very mediocre and pure shooters will satisfy you a lot more. The same goes for the stealth which never reaches the levels of Splinter Cell, but it doesn’t have to. Thief-fans for instance will enjoy it very much. Very original are the scenes where you need to run for your life and close doors behind you just to get enough time to get rid of your pursuers. Exciting in every meaning of the word! You need to buy Call of Cthulhu for the combination of all that’s written above, together with the adventure and research parts.
You’ll be spending quite some hours with dwelling around, looking for stuff and solving puzzles and mysteries. The puzzles vary from typical adventure-stuff (like meddling with your inventory and surrounding) to those where you need to use your gray cells. Unfortunately you can also get completely stuck, but that also part of the charm of this title. You’re a detective or you’re not. On top of that, the good plot, beautiful atmosphere and life-like surroundings you constantly push you to continue playing! Meanwhile, you’ll get even more sucked in by the excellent interface (sometimes a bit confusing but you’ll gladly take that along) that gets noticed by its subtleness. You’ll for instance have to aim with your iron sights alone since there’s no bull’s eye in the middle of your screen.
Up to know we’ve been pouring good news, but it’s when we get to the graphics that we notice the long development time. The textures are hardly sharp, animations a bit woody, and the overall technical quality is a bit less. Luckily the makers have had some excquisite artists at their disposal as thanks to their work they not only compensate for the old engine, but even succeed to suck you right into the game. The music is really great and does the same, with an atmospheric soundtrack, nice sound effects, and the necessary creepy parts to make you uncomfortable. Also the text was read very well.
Lovecrafts story was transferred to Call of Cthulhu: Dark Corners of the Earth in a very successful and atmospheric way. The combination of stealth, shooting, research and solving puzzles works, and that as such is already an accomplishment. On top of that this whole got finished with a strong story, the unique atmosphere and beautiful setting. Only on a technical side there are some lackings that may ruin the fun, like the blurry textures. Don’t let that stop you from trying this game though as it’s most certainly a topper and prooves that the original XBox can still deliver a lot of pure gaming fun.