The French-based video game developer Cyanide Studios has been working with publisher Focus Home Interactive for over fifteen years. Releasing at the tail end of 2017, Call of Cthulhu: The Official Video Game is an upcoming horror game based on the desktop role-playing game of H.P. Lovecraft’s short story “The Call of Cthulhu.” My E3 2017 hands-off demo followed private investigator Edward Pierce, as he investigates the death at the Hawkins Mansion on Darkwater Island in the 1920s. The narrative is told through your investigation. The more time spent exploring the environment; the more complete your game experience will be. In the gameplay demo, I was shown, we examined a nearby tombstone, making note that someone has been taking care of the grave of the late Sarah Hawkins. As our journey took us closer to a nearby side door, which was locked, we came across the groundskeeper that did not like the fact we were trespassing.
The game seamlessly transitions between cutscenes and gameplay, which takes place in first-person. One of the fundamental gameplay mechanics is the deep dialogue system with choices that will have lasting impacts on both the narrative and the relationships with your companions. As dialogue options appear, if you were able to find clues ahead of time, you will be presented with a wider range of things to say. Each option comes from a different dialogue skill set, such as persuasion, intimidation, and small talk. In the demo, Pierce appealed to the caring side of the groundskeeper, as it was him that was taking care of the grave. This allowed us to defuse the situation, and have him lower his shovel without having to act out in force.
Edward Pierce’s skills extend past conversations, depending on where you spend your points after gaining experience. While social options are viable, you can also improve his understanding of what he is examining, his proficiency in gathering clues. After investigating a burned out living room in the mansion, he picked up an object, that was barely in view, but thanks to his skills he was able to spot it, while someone else that didn’t spend points on gathering clues may not have spotted it. Skipping ahead in the demo to show a new location, our protagonist attempted to understand what he saw in a painting. Based on your skills, he may perceive it differently.
While it wasn’t shown in the gameplay we saw, we were told that you would be able to recruit a lead of investigators to help you solve various cases across Darkwater Island. Another key gameplay system revolves around Edward’s sanity. As he faces the horrors of the island, and the monsters lurking in the dark, his sanity will be challenged. We left being teased with how this will affect the gameplay, but trying to hide and escape from creatures will become that much harder. He will gain phobias that can cause hallucinations if his sanity drops too low. All of this changes his reactions and even the ending to the game.
Call of Cthulhu: The Official Video Game is launching on PC, PlayStation 4, and Xbox One later this year.