Game: "Call of Cthulhu: Dark Corners of the Earth"
System: PC
Genre: Action
Published by: Other

Reviewer: Dr. Boogie
Posted: 9/1/2008

Review: This game was in development for an incredibly long, and I was ecstatic when it finally came out for the PC back in 2006. Granted, it had suffered a bit from being in development too long, but at the same time not long enough.

You play Jack Walters, the detective who's answering the Call of Cthulhu this time around. Jack has a reputation for being able to handle particularly difficult cases. Unfortunately, he also has a reputation for spending a couple years in a mental asylum after temporarily developing a split personality. Nevertheless, he is still able to find abundant work as a PI. For his newest case, he's been asked to track down a missing grocery clerk in the quaint fishing village of Innsmouth, Maine.

I don't want to give away too much of the story, even though the game's own opening cutscene gives away the ending, but suffice to say, Jack encounters a few minor setbacks while looking around Innsmouth. If you've ever read The Shadow Over Innsmouth, you've probably already figured out a lot of it.

The entire game is in the first person perspective with no HUD to provide you with any information. If you want to aim your gun, you have to use the iron sights. If you want to see how injured you are, you have to examine yourself for blood splotches or protruding bones. In that same spirit, damage is location-based on Jack, with different affects for each location. A broken leg will slow your movements to a crawl, accompanied by a pained grunt, until you can bandage and splint the injury. A broken arm can be even worse, as you can't very well aim with your wrist shoved up into your forearm. Dressing wounds takes time, though. In a heated battle, you may have to settle with a more temporary solution: morphine. And that leads into the best part of the game.

An insane cultist shooting at you is a threat to your physical wellbeing, but you also need to be mindful of your sanity. Jack will come across many situations that will put a strain on his sanity, such as shooting up with too much morphine, discovering rotting corpses, and even looking down from a great height (Jack suffers from acrophobia). When these episodes start to pile up, you'll start to experience hallucinations both audible and visual, decreased controller sensitivity, and even panicked chatter from Jack himself. And if things get too crazy, you could even find yourself staring down the barrel of your own gun.

And it's that presentation that the game does particularly well. The atmosphere of a Lovecraft story is captured perfectly. Not a thing feels out of place, not even the character dialogue. And the game is legitimately scary! Admittedly, some of that scariness is lost when you first get your hands on a gun (elder horrors or no, a headshot is a headshot), but the whole of the game is still quite frightening. I know I was particularly tense during the scene in which you first meet none other than J. Edgar Hoover, though not on ideal terms.

There have been a lot of attempts over the years at bringing H.P. Lovecraft's work to other media, but I have to say that Dark Corners of the Earth is one of the best. Unfortunately, the game does suffer from a number of nasty bugs, and with developer Headfirst Productions now dissolved, you'll have to look to fan patches to fix them. The worst part, however, is that Headfirst had planned a few sequels to DCotE, none of which ever see the light of day. That alone is enough to make me crazy.

Overall rating: WholeWholeWholeHalf
(Scored on a 0.5 - 5 pickles rating: 0.5 being the worst and 5 being the best)

Reader Comments

Forum Virgin
Sep 2nd, 2008, 12:05 AM
haha! finally, some acknowledgement for an unacknowledged game. forget bioshock, forget system shock 2... when it all comes down to it, the Dark Priest Cthulhu wins the day.
Fucking Finland
Sep 2nd, 2008, 02:18 AM
This game is awesome.

Too bad that the sequels were cancelled. I remember that there was a whole bunch of them in planning, one of them being based on At the mountains of madness.
Sep 2nd, 2008, 05:52 AM
i gotta agree that despite it being basically a non-interactive cutscene, the first encounter with hoover scared the frig outta me
Rape you...
Sep 2nd, 2008, 08:14 AM
Haven't played this one yet, but Alone in the dark (original) and Sherlock Holmes: Awakened were great Lovecraft games...
I hate this hacker crap!
Sep 2nd, 2008, 08:53 AM
I did not make it at all far in this game. However, I did like it. Very spooky.
What Video Games?
Sep 2nd, 2008, 10:11 AM
I loved this game. Truly unsettling and more frantic than I had magined, bnamely when the villagers decide to start attacking you. Goddamn that bit is crazy!
Sep 2nd, 2008, 02:09 PM
I have been looking for some Doom-like action recently...
40 pound box of rape?
Sep 2nd, 2008, 06:36 PM
"I have been looking for some Doom-like action recently..."

Trust me. The game is nowhere near in the same vein as Doom. The levels are varied in interesting and sometimes infuriating ways (When you get to the level where you have to run from some individuals, you will know EXACTLY what I mean). And the sanity aspect itself is enough to buy the game for. Forget "The Thing" PC game, this is where the real question of sanity comes into play and legimately affects the overall gameplay and whether or not you can proceed.
Sep 2nd, 2008, 07:36 PM
I always wanted to play this game when it first came out, sadly I never got the chance. I'm also bummed that there will never be any sequels to it.
drifting in the void
Sep 3rd, 2008, 04:31 AM
I never played through that game entirely, but as soon as I saw the first screen, I was like "Ahhh...*relieved*...Insmouth". I donīt know how often I read that story (or many of the other Lovecraft stories) but it was certainly a well made game. Lovecraft just has this certain something in his stories, that makes me want to giggle like a lunatic while staring at the stars.
I hate this hacker crap!
Sep 3rd, 2008, 02:37 PM
I loved the running through hotel rooms, turning, bolting doors, pushing cabinets and the like.
Sep 5th, 2008, 11:06 PM
Fun game, but my save got wiped when I was about 80-90% done. Never picked it up again. I especially liked the shoggoth and Hydra battles.
Funky Dynamite
Sep 6th, 2008, 02:13 PM
Hydra battle? Dude, you weren't 90% done, you were 98% done.

Pick it up again. The game can be beaten in less than 3 1/2 hours when you know what you're doing
good fer what ails ye.
Sep 6th, 2008, 09:51 PM
I love the whole Cthulhlu concept, but I can't ever seem to find any actual Lovecraft stories.
#1 on the ignore list
Sep 6th, 2008, 10:25 PM
There was a Lovecraft game planned for the Virtual Boy.

What's a more perfect system to display mind-melting cosmic horrors than a mind-melting system?
Official Punching Bag
Sep 10th, 2008, 10:40 AM
"There was a Lovecraft game planned for the Virtual Boy"

No wonder Lovecraft protagonists usually kill themselves in the stories...