Call of Cthulhu: Dark Corners of the Earth – XB – Review

Stepping onto
the cracked pavement of Innsmouth, the dimly lit town looks dead despite the few
townsfolk shuffling about like hulking beasts. The mist is heavy in this coastal
town as the stench of dead fish fills your nostrils until you feel it choke your
throat like two invisible hands squeezing your neck. The faces look unfriendly
and twisted as if everyone here has gone mad but you have a job to do … one that
will take you even to the darkest corners of this strange town. Welcome to
classic horror master H.P. Lovecraft’s supernatural tale turned Xbox survival
horror game called Call of Cthulhu: Dark Corners of the Earth.


The game begins
in 1922 in Arkham Asylum were an insane patient scribbles archaic symbols on his
padded cell until he slowly steps on a chair, rings a makeshift rope around his
neck and proceeds to hang himself. Rewind the story six years earlier to find a
private investigator named Jack Walters in the middle of a raid on a dilapidated
house only to find dead cultists, a hidden room with a macabre scene and a
chamber that unleashes the forces that drove Walters to the nuthouse where he
attempts to hang himself. I say attempt because the next time we see Walter’s
he’s alive and sane and with no memory of his stay at Arkham or his attempt to
take his life.

something supernatural has happened to Walters and the realm of the supernatural
has become something of an obsession. He even begins to take on cases involving
the unexplained. He receives a call from a Mister Anderson one night and as
Walters is about pass on the case he learns that a store manager in the unknown
town of Innsmouth has suddenly vanished in what looked like a store burglary.
Everything about the case doesn’t make sense so he accepts the job and heads out
to Innsmouth. When he arrives at the strange seaside town he starts his
investigation and begins to feel that something evil lurks in the darkest
corners of this place. Suddenly what was just a routine investigation turns into
a fight for survival against the forces of evil. If you’re a fan of H.P.
Lovecraft’s short stories you will not be disappointed in the game’s ability to
tell the story.

Played in the
first-person perspective, Call of Cthulhu lets us see the haunting town
of Innsmouth through Walter’s eyes. Even before he steps off the bus (driven by
one spooky chauffeur) the town doesn’t feel right. The people of Innsmouth are
unfriendly, pale and clearly hiding some secret that Walter must uncover by
exploring the town. Along the way he finds Mackey, the only one in town that
seems normal. As a private investigator snooping around is a part of the game
and much like the recent crop of adventure games on the Xbox you’ll be
interacting with your environment and, of course, picking up clues. There are
puzzles to solve, many of which mean death if you fail so the game gives you
plenty of motivation.


One of the
things the game excels in is setting the tension to extremely high levels.
Walter’s sanity is tested throughout the game as the controller shakes at any
disturbing image that you happen to witness. Careful management of our hero’s
mental health is definitely a requirement seeing as too much stress can cause
him to panic to the point that you’ll find it hard to keep your hands from
shaking, your vision will blur and you’ll even experience hearing loss. There
are many moments in the game where you’ll have a gun and in a state of panic
you’ll find it hard to aim right. The most jarring moments come in the form of
the game’s non-shooting bits. For example, one part has you sneaking into the
store that was robbed but the nasty security guard won’t let you snoop around.
Sneaking past him and entering the store, you’ll have the option to push a shelf
in front of the door to give you more time to look around. Imagine looking
around until you hear the loud and menacing thuds as the security guard attempts
to come into the store in search for you.

There’s action
in this game and it’s quite possibly the game’s weakest part. You’ll be injured
way too quickly during these first-person shooter parts so you’ll have to heal
Walter by suturing and bandaging his wounds. Combat isn’t easy seeing as the
game is pushing the creep factor and scares to the maximum. Many of the times
you’ll miss your target not because of the controls but because the feeling of
panic will fry your nerves in all the right moments.

Visually the
game has a suitably dark and murky look that makes the darkness even more
menacing. While these aren’t the best Xbox graphics, its grainy look gives the
game much personality. The character models are not bad at all and when it comes
to the people of Innsmouth, the inbreeding among these people is very
noticeable. You’ll encounter some strange monsters, indeed, and the game is
never short on disturbing images. Innsmouth itself doesn’t look very inviting
and the various building are filled with detail. It’s not a bad looking game but
it could have been better.


Where the game
really shines is the sound department, which is filled to the brim with detailed
sound effects, creepy soundtrack and convincing voice acting. The game score is
very cinematic and it changes with every situation that arises but it’s the
voice acting that will grab you. Walter narrates as he makes discoveries and his
dialogue is classic gumshoe (think Phillip Marlow with Tourettes) . Yet what
really shines through is the detailed sound effects. If Walter gets too
frightened you’ll hear his teeth clattering and stand too close to any citizen
of Innsmouth and you’ll even hear his breathing. It’s great stuff the just makes
the game’s creepy moments even more creepier.

Call of
Cthulhu: Dark Corners of the Earth

will play with your nerves until
you’re not sure what might happen and will seriously creep you out from start to
finish. It’s a trip down a nightmarish place filled with mystery and danger and
will suck you into its dark tale. In short, this is a game that’s fresh and
unique and well worth your time and money. Give this one a shot if you’re
looking for a survival horror game at its most creepy.

Review Scoring Details
of Cthulhu: Dark Corners of the Earth

Gameplay: 8.2
The game
certainly knows how to mess with your nerves in ways other survival horror games
can’t pull off anymore. There’s some exploration bits mixed in with some
first-person shooter action and you’ll be drawn into the story. Keeping Walter
from becoming too freaked out will keep you more than busy.

Graphics: 8.0
It’s not
exactly the most gorgeous Xbox game you’ll come across but the dark and grainy
look works like gangbusters. You’ll find things that come out of the dark and
the town folk here all have that eerie look and a crazed stare that will not
fail to make you feel uncomfortable.

Sound: 8.5
The voice
acting is handled beautifully, although people in Innsmouth seem to have marbles
in their mouths. The game’s score is wonderful and works well during cutscenes
and during the game’s action. The sound effects will play with your head,
especially when you’ll hear whispers that come from behind you or that
scratching noise that’s coming from that other side of a locked door. Have an
extra pair of underwear ready.

Some puzzles
have the obvious solution while others have you returning to your journal for
hints. Still the biggest challenge comes with keeping Walter from shooting
himself or strangling himself with his own hands when he finally goes nuts. Some
monsters are pretty tough as well.

Concept: 8.0

adventure with shooting and good old-fashioned detective work makes for an
interesting game with a lot to offer. There are some extras to unlock and harder
difficulty settings. The H.P. Lovecraft influence is everywhere in this game and
that will certainly please fans. Now how do you pronounce the game’s title?

Overall: 8.5
A unique and
scary experience, Call of Cthulhu for the Xbox is a frightening and most
engaging experience that will not fail to hook you from the very start. While
there are some elements that could have been handled a bit better, like the
shooting parts, the rest of the game is just too good. A good game to buy if
you’re looking for something different and, well, scary.