I’ll set the record straight right from the outset, under normal circumstances I am not a huge fan of turn based RPG’s, but with the release of Call of Cthulhu being inspired by the works of HP Lovecraft coming out only a few weeks ago I was intrigued as to what this game would have to offer the user.
Based on the hugely popular tabletop RPG by Modiphius Entertainment, Auroch Digital and Ripstone Games have attempted to bring this occult turn-based strategy game to consoles. It has been around for a while now on Steam with mixed reviews but as of November 20th, it will be released on the PS4 and Xbox One. It pits you against a rogues’ gallery of Lovecraftian beings which are being controlled by the Nazi’s.
Using military tactics, along with some added supernatural powers you need to save the world (don’t we always). Set in an alternate history of World War 2 where the Nazis’ investigations into the occult have resulted in the summoning of Lovecraftian Monsters, you have to take the rein of Charlie Company, an elite band of allied forces sent in to do the impossible; foil the Nazi plans and turn the tide of war. If you are still unaware of the works of HP Lovecraft and the influence he had on modern day gaming and films then I wont go into it here, but if you are genuinely interested then take a look here, and Jonny can describe it much better than I ever could.
Each hero character features their own backstory, weapon specialisation and combat abilities to give players an edge in the battlefield.
Captain Eric ‘Badger’ Harris is a British Intelligence operative who specialises in experimental weaponry and guerilla warfare.
Ariane Dubois is a French Resistance member whos bonded with a demonic spirit creature which she can command on the battlefield.
Corporal Akhee ‘The Eye’ Singh wields a sentient amulet that can turn him into a whirling cloud of blades.
Sergeant Brandon Carter is a loud-mouthed American soldier with a medallion that imbues his signature Thompson machine gun, with mythos-fuelled bullets that can tear through the Nazis horrifying creations.
These characters are where my first concern lies with the game. Voice Overs are minimal within the game; normally one line at a time in response to attacks made by the enemies, but they need work. The three men all sound very similar and certainly with a game set during World War 2, Akhee Singh should have a stronger accent being a Sikh. The only member of the team that has a distinctive accent is the French woman. These, however, pail into comparison when it comes to the enemy soldiers. Not once did I ever hear anything that once even closely resembled a German accent, in fact it was hard to differentiate between the Nazis and heros at times.
I did say at the very start of this article that I’m not a fan of turn-based gaming, but I did actually find this game quite enjoyable. Well,for the first couple of hours anyway.
You get introduced into the mechanics of the game quite well in an easy to follow tutorial. I usually find the various mechanics of these games annoying and difficult to follow, but not in this instance. You move the players easily around the maps until you run into the enemy which is when the mechanics change to fighting mode. For this, each character starts each turn with 12 attack points. Any movement costs points as do any attacks made with your weapons. There is a nice touch of ‘MP’ which are stacked points you can use for extra attacks with your secondary weapon or magic attacks, but these are shared through the team so you need to be careful not to use them all in one go.
So, as I said; the first couple of hours were actually quite fun when you ignore the bad Voice Overs. Between levels the story unfolds with written reports voiced by a stereotypical Yank Sergeant, which is quite fun. Also you are given the chance to upgrade your players using experience points gained from levels in an easy way to use.
After the first few hours I started to notice the flaws more within the game. Levels are repeatedly used over and over and the enemy’s forces are extremely limited to just a handful of models as well as what I was most looking forward to; the Lovecraftian monsters. I believe I counted 3 different ones at most throughout the entire playthrough. It needs more for me to feel more at ease with the game. Perhaps the developers could bring us more in future updates as this game does have a lot of potential that hasn’t been utilised to the full.
In the press pack I received with my review code it did say that the game has a Psychological System. If you witness too many horrors of war, your units sanity begins to unravel mid-fight. I am guessing that this is basically your AP being affected in places and reduced for a number of turns. I would have liked to have seen this administered in possible other ways; perhaps your character that is effected turns on team members in a state of madness!
Unfortunately my opinion of turn based RPG’s hasn’t been changed by this game, yet I thought it would. It started off so well, but unfortunately for me didn’t keep up the gripping pace. The shock and surprise is lost with repeated level set-ups. I now also think I have realised just why I don’t normally like these games.. its the limited maps and repetitive gameplay that they offer. I did really enjoy playing the game more than I thought I would until the issues I have become more and more noticable. Then there was the overall length of the game; its very short. The entire campaign takes part over 11 scenarios with a few side missions thrown into the mix, but once I had completed the game I didn’t feel that I really wanted to go back and play it all through again. I personally didn’t feel that it had that replay value that so many other games do have. Maybe if there were different paths and choices to make within the game then I’d have a different opinion, but its extremely liniar in its gameplay.
All that being said, I know there are gamers out there that love these types of game and this will really appeal to them, it just wasn’t for me. The game isn’t a bad game as such; the graphics are nice and the control system works very well within the game and is easy to pick up. I did keep an open mind whilst playing (if I hadn’t, I wouldn’t have even tried the game in the first place) and the best I can give this game is a 6.5/10. I would love to give it more, but it just needs more work put into the game to make it a success.
**Please note, a review code was kindly given by the publishers. This has not influenced my views in any way as per our review standards**