Date Played Aug 2011

If horror games appeal to you then Call of Cthulhu: Dark Corners of the Earth is definitely for you. The setting and characters are decidedly creepy and it's actually the first game that initially made me jump and I've played most in this genre. But, of course, after you've gotten used the tactics, it won't seem quite as creepy, but in the beginning it can give you a delicious fright.

The gameplay consists of a mixed bag of styles. The first few levels are mostly about crouching and sneaking because you don't find any weapons until later. In the beginning, this makes your character extremely vulnerable, thus setting the stage for the feelings of horror you're about to experience. However, if the game continued along these lines, it could eventually get tiresome because progress is incredibility slow going. Fortunately, as I'm not a great fan of purely stealth games, Call of Cthulhu has enough variety in the gameplay to keep you interested as you progress. There are some levels that you could classify as stealth, some as a shooter and some levels that combine both elements in addition to throwing physics and puzzles into the mix. In other words, all of these styles together make for a gaming experience that holds your interest and never becomes boringly repetitive. In addition, it also has a pretty good tale to tell.


The story takes place in 1922 and revolves around the detective Jack Walters who is hired to travel to the town of Innesmouth, New England and investigate the disappearance of an employee of First National Grocery. Jack has his own rocky background that landed him in an insane asylum for several years and this background is covered in the first portion of the game. This sets up another gameplay element that has Jack periodically verging on insanity, which then affects his ability to take action. Sometimes, it is so severe that he has visions where he is thrown back to his days in the asylum. Remaining in the vicinity of some horror will start this reaction, thus distorting and graying out his vision. He will also start babbling to himself and the advice is to not be handling a loaded gun during this time in case of suicidal urges. This reaction can be extremely inconvenient, especially during intense gunfights.

Jack finds the people of Innesmouth decidedly very strange as well as strange looking. Well, downright creepy. Outsiders are not welcome and particularly ones that ask awkward questions. His investigations lead him to the discovery of a cult named the Order of Dagon, which said nosiness puts him on the most wanted list by its members. From there it's all downhill starting with some intense moments whilst trying to escape from town. Although Jack would like to give up the investigation, circumstances conspire to prevent this as well as some thread in his past that connects him to these events.

At a certain point your character gets his hands on some weapons. These are 1922 weapons folks, so you will find them a bit lacking, thus upping the difficulty of playing shooter. Each round holds very little ammo and reloading is excruciatingly slow. There is also no melee attack to make up for this, making running and hiding attractive options. The developers also have you losing all of your weapons at various points and you will have to find some again, forcing you to resort back to some stealth play.

Jack is aided by some precognitive visions of what lies ahead, but in truth they are not really very helpful. There is no map or dedicated objective system, so you have to find your way around and sometimes you're not quite sure what you should be doing. Saving relies on the checkpoint system through the use of a particular symbol and you will be breathing a sigh of relief when you find one. The game is quite hard and you will be dying a lot. I've never liked the checkpoint system for various reasons, but some people don't seem to mind and if the developer's idea is to elicit an emotional response, it certainly works. I'm not sure its the one they were aiming for though.

Also, Jack can get injured not only by gunshots, but also by things like falls. You need health packages that include bandages, splints and sutures for repairing these wounds. Injuries slow him down and if you don't heal up, movements and jumps become more difficult if not impossible. Healing takes place in real time, so you must choose a safe place to do it. There are various other items that Jack finds and can carry in his inventory including three types of logs and diaries.

Graphics are a little debatable only from the sense that they seem to have a slight misty or grainy overlay, which is more emphasized in stealth mode. The game uses a film grain that cannot be disabled. (the unofficial patch supposedly has an option for this) However, level and character design is fairly detailed and the weapons are modelled after the real thing. The game is quite long and the story very interesting, so there are no complaints there. I always enjoy a game that emotionally connects you to the character so that you actually care what happens to them.

Unfortunately this game can be buggy. I experienced several crashes, two of which were GPU crashes. Jack can also sometimes get stuck in things like rock outcroppings, which may force a reload. This is particularly painful with a checkpoint save system. There is a map key for skipping cut scenes if you need to replay an area. However, apart from this and having a very awkward name that I keep forgetting how to spell, Call of Cthulhu has many fine points and was very enjoyable. Don't expect an easy ride as this game is actually quite difficult. Getting it to run properly might be a pain, but it's well worth it in the end if you enjoy a challenge.

Game Issues Experienced
There is a bug in this game popularly known as the No Reef bug. During the boat level, you will have to use the cannon to shoot out three lights located on a distant reef. These lights are only visible if you are running XP.

I was well aware this bug was coming up and when the time came I couldn't see the lights even though I was running XP. I also had trouble controlling the sights of the cannon. So, I just shot randomly approximately where the youtube video showed. It took quite a few trys, but it worked. The cannon shoots low, so aim considerably above the reef on the left, middle and right. It turns out that you need to press the right mouse for the lights to show in XP, but I'm sharing this little bit of embarrassment so that you know that it can be done without seeing the lights. Since then, a user has put out a new patch. Check under patches above.

I also experienced several crashes. There are other bugs as well, but I was able to play this without running into any unsolvable game breaking ones, so I suggest you try running it in XP compatibility mode. You could also try disabling multi cores and/or steam overlay.
Development Note
Call of Cthulhu is based on H.P. Lovecraft's 1936 novella called The Shadow Over Innsmouth and was in some form of development for at least six years. The game was originally much greater in scope, but during its rocky road to release many elements were scrapped due to budget and time constraints. Although receiving generally favourable reviews, it was often criticized for its buggyness and high level of difficulty. However, in retrospectives, it is seen as a game that was on the brink of greatness. At the time, it did not sell well leading to the cancellation of sequels and the fall of the development studio Headfirst Studios.

Although it was announced in Jan 2014 that Frogwares was working on a new Call of Cthulhu game, there has been no further word since.

You may see other games with the Cthulhu name in the title as this refers to an entire mythos, however they bear no relation or similarity to this one.
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Other games in series:  None
  • Genre: Survival Horror, Adventure, FPS
  • Developer(s): Headfirst Productions
  • Publisher(s): Bethseda Softworks, 2K Games
  • Platforms: Microsoft Windows, Xbox
  • Release: March 2006
  • Mode(s): Single-player
  • Media: Download, DVD
  • DLC Available: No.
  • OS: Windows XP / 2000
  • CPU: Pentium 3, 800 Mhz
  • RAM: 128 MB
  • Hard Drive: 2 GB free space
  • Video: DirectX 9.0c 3D compliant
  • Sound: DirectX 8.1 compatible
  • Shader Model:
  • Input for PC: Keyboard & Mouse
  • DRM: None. Steam
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  • Version: Steam Download
  • OS: Windows XP SP3
  • CPU: Athlon 64x2 4200+ 2200MHz
  • Ram: 4GB
  • Disk Drive: DVD/CD
  • Video: ATI Radeon 4830
  • Shader Model: 4.1
  • DirectX: 9.0c
  • Input: Keyboard & Mouse
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  • Copyright 2011 - - All Rights Reserved
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