Call of Cthulhu: Dark Corners of the Earth (2005)

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That is not dead which can eternal lie, And with strange aeons even death may die.”
 -H.P. Lovecraft

 

 

mystic_knight1 “The following is a guest post by The Midnight Mystic Mage.”

It is hard to properly explain how disappointed I was with the game breaking bugs that I experienced on the Steam version of this game. I love the story and thought they did an amazing job adapting the works of Lovecraft into a video game. The gameplay wasn’t too bad itself but when it comes to bugs these are two of the most ridiculous ones I have ever encountered. The first one I was willing to find a work around so that I could press on but by the time I reached the second one that was so bad you literally could not get past it without a patch or some sort of save I just said screw it, it was right at the very end of the game too which seriously bummed me out.

The first bug that I experienced is called the “reef bug” which happens during the Dangerous Voyage mission. There is a point where you need to take over the cannon on the ship and take out the priests that are causing gigantic tidal waves to rock your boat. The thing with this bug is that you can not see them, when you look through the scope it is literally just grey sky and nothing else. I found a work around that showed you the places on the screen to shoot. Yes, you heard that right, in order to pass this mission I shot at nothing hoping I hit the mark while running back and forth from huge waves. It is hard to imagine something more frustrating in a game.

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The next bug is one that happens while the building is exploding and you have to make your way through it at the very end of the game. You guessed it, it just does not work. I had trouble installing the patch to try and make it to where I was able to finish the game but I finally had enough when I could not get the patch to work correctly. What happened specifically during this bug was no matter how perfectly you time your run through the building, there is one point in which you die no matter what. I checked in different community posts and such to make sure it wasn’t something I was doing wrong and sadly it was definitely another game breaking bug that required a patch to fix, this time with no work around.

Now that I have bashed the game for what it seriously deserves to be bashed for, I would like to add that I really love the game and that is what made it so upsetting for me. They stay true to the writing of Lovecraft and created a fun universe with elements from many stories of his, and the gameplay was pretty enjoyable most of the time. I would advise anybody trying to play the game to get a version other than the one on Steam. Maybe get an old PC copy that you can make work somehow or the version for original Xbox. From what I read those versions do not have these insane game ruining bugs which really put a damper on the gaming experience for me. If you have experiences with working with patches for Steam games, then it may not be as much of a problem for you. It is just frustrating to me though that a game would come broken and need you to fix it in order to play through and finish it.

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So the basic story that the game draws much of its plot from is The Shadow Over Innsmouth and it takes place for most of the game in Innsmouth itself. There are a bunch of hybrid fish people who are very unhappy with your presence there and refer to you as the “Outsider”. Your character is an investigator who is looking into disappearances who we later find out lead back to the Esoteric Order of Dagon who worship Dagon, Cthulhu, and Hydra. I won’t spoil the story because for fans of Lovecraftian horror a functional version of this game could really be an enjoyable one to play.

This is the first game that I am reviewing what I also did a Let’s Play of and uploaded to YouTube. I was hoping to have the game up in it’s entirety but due to the previously mentioned bugs it did not go as smoothly as planned. However if you are interested in seeing what some of the gameplay looks like feel free to check out the series and if you find my lackluster skills bearable then please subscribe and leave a like or comment while you are there. I also have plenty of screenshots uploaded on my FacebookTwitter, and Instagram. Here is the link for the let’s play series on my YouTube channel Call of Cthulhu: Dark Corners of the Earth *Let’s Play*

With that, I will be moving on to my 8-bit review of this festival of bugs.

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The 8-Bit Review
 Visuals: 6/10
It was a different generation of graphics to be sure. There were times when I was impressed with the visuals of some scenes. Mainly the underwater lair toward the end of the game and the skin crawling portrayal of Arkham Asylum. I was also not very fond of many other things though. I didn’t like the design of the fish people of Innsmouth and many scenes and characters just felt very mediocre and not as well designed as they could have been.

For the time though it wasn’t all that bad compared to other games of the period. Some of the tentacled creatures were absolutely chilling and the way that they brought the loss of sanity at times to life was something unlike anything I know of from the period. I would look away and feel like I had just stared at an optical illusion for too long or something and when you combine that with the stealthiness it could really mess with your mind after a while.

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audio Audio: 4/10
The sound design attributed as much to the psychological effects that the game had as the visual ones did. As far as music goes there wasn’t too much that was memorable for me but the sounds and voice acting were not too shabby. This does lead me to yet another bug though which I have failed to mention thus far. If you watch any of the later videos with dialogue from my Let’s Play you will see that at the end of one person talking it just cuts off early. I am not exactly sure when it started to happen, but after it did I was basically missing the last few words of every exchange due to ANOTHER freaking bug. It was incredibly annoying for many reasons. I couldn’t always tell what the characters were trying to say. This was my first (partially) full Let’s Play of a game and the viewer would be experiencing the same annoyance. It was just a nightmare of frustrating glitches, bugs, and other troubles.

gameplay Gameplay: 3/10
I have got to detract from the score for these game breaking bugs somewhere and what better place than gameplay. Please keep in mind that I can only attest to these being in the Steam version of the game, so this is not an attack on the gameplay of a fully functional version. The stealth was pulled off fairly well and the FPS aspects were fun as well. What I will always remember about this game when I look back though is the first time a game was so broken that I couldn’t finish it, so broken that I couldn’t hear the full dialogue, and so freakin’ broken that I was literally shooting into thin air in hopes of hitting people that were supposed to be in the general area. What a mess.

narrative Narrative: 7/10
Here is a redeeming quality that the bugs could not entirely destroy. The narrative was a creative take on the Lovecraftian mythos. I love detective stories and games so the way they were able to work your character in as one who is investigating the cultists felt very fluent and natural with the story. They bring in characters that you care about such as Ruth, Agent Mackey, J. Edgar Hoover, and  Ramona, who all really add to the depth of the story and fit into it in their own unique and special ways. I wouldn’t say it was spotless or one of the best stories, but it was solid which is more than I can say for most of my gameplay experience.

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accessibility Accessibility: 2/10
A game that can’t even be finished is not very accessible by my view of things. In fact it is quite the opposite. The game itself without the bugs already had its own issues but when you add in the reef bug to the mix that just drops it down to very poor. The level where you have to escape from the hotel is one that comes to mind as being a low point for this category. It is strange gameplay functionality that has you moving around furniture at a snail’s pace and there were just many other points in the game like it that just didn’t feel right.

challenge Challenge: 5/10
The boss fights that weren’t broken were pretty repetitive and boring, especially Dagon. There were other stealth parts of the game that were pretty difficult and fun to get better at in order to pass. I enjoyed the fight with the flying polyps and the hydra battle, but the game was kind of all over the place in terms of difficulty and style of play.

uniqueness Uniqueness: 7/10
I like the story they created with the use of the Cthulhu mythos. I understand that it isn’t completely unique in nature as it is very derivative from the source material, but they were able to work in their own characters and story as well. Not to mention the way that the mythos stories were weaved and intertwined was done very creatively.

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personalgrade My Personal Grade: 5/10
I am being generous to give it a 5 just because I know that under different circumstances with a version of the game that worked correctly I would have liked it substantially more. Sadly, I am just so glad to be done with the game so that I can move on to something that won’t constantly be giving me such a headache when I am just trying to unwind and enjoy myself. I hate to feel like that about a game and especially about a game based on the works of my favorite author.

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Aggregated Score: 4.9

 

The Midnight Mystic Mage is the resident writer of sublimereviews.wordpress.com, a reviewer of games, books, and film, and a fan of all things horror and spooky. Follow the link… if you dare!

 

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11 thoughts on “Call of Cthulhu: Dark Corners of the Earth (2005)

  1. Reblogged this on Sublime Reviews and commented:

    Check out my review of Call of Cthulhu, a little bit of horror just in time for Halloween. Despite my low score I really did enjoy the game, it was the bugs that ruined it for me. Read now to see more of what I am talking about and let me know your opinion on the game!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I loooooove this game, but you’re absolutely right that the bugs are hideous. The one at the end of the game in particular is heartbreaking! (And it wasn’t just the Steam version; I have a physical copy of the PC version from when it originally came out where it was present too. Boo!)

    One of the best interactive adaptations of the Cthulhu mythos to date, though the new one from Focus Interactive/Cyanide has the potential to be something really special. I shall be keeping an eye on that one with great interest.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Yeah I am wondering if I should have given it a bit of a better score because I really did love the game itself. Those bugs were just too much though, definitely the most frustrating ones in a game that I have played. I am also looking forward to the new one!

      Liked by 2 people

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