October 31 wasn’t only the day of Halloween, it was also when GOG released Headfirst Productions’ classic first-person survival horror game Call of Cthulhu: Dark Corners of the Earth on their DRM-free platform.
The game was originally released in 2005 on both PC and Xbox with a troubled 6 years development history behind it. Ideas of mixing RPG and multiplayer together were abandoned and the adventure game aspects were enhanced with FPS mechanics. This might all sound as if the final product would end up as a mess and considering that the now defunct company Headfirst Productions did the rather mediocre Simon The Sorcerer 3D after the excellent 2D point-and-clickers doesn’t sound very promising either, but this is surprisingly the closest gaming has come to truly deliver the psychological horror author H.P. Lovecraft envisioned in his works.
Based on the novella The Shadow over Innsmouth, it’s about private detective Jack Walters who investigates the disappearance of a store clerk in the small coastal town in the 1920ies where he soon learns that a cult and monsters come after him and his sanity. It’s very true to its source material and quite scary at times, so much so that the protagonist suffers from hallucinations and panic attacks, while being hit on specific body parts makes him limp or prevent him from accurately aiming his weapons. The idea of losing focus due to insanity and only regaining control by evading enemies was later used in games like Amnesia: The Dark Descent, but it’s here where true survival horror started. The mix of FPS action, stealth, and puzzle solving still remains quite unique to this day, too.
I still remember playing this gem of a game, although it’s been a long time. It’s certainly a very difficult game, but just like the modern Outlast II, one should persevere, because the thrill of exploring this rich world of Lovecraftian horror is worth it. There were quite a few bugs back in the days and the Steam version apparently suffers from crashes, so that’s probably the reason why I haven’t given it another try on a new PC. However, GOG seems to have addressed the issues and finally released something playable with various gameplay and graphics fixes.
Buy the digital version for PC on
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