Call of Cthulhu: Dark Corners of the Earth E3 2004 Preshow Impressions

We haven't seen much of this ambitious survival horror game since last year's E3, but we've got an update on what to expect.


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Headfirst Productions, developer of not one but two upcoming first-person action adventure games based on HP Lovecraft's classic Call of Cthulhu psychological horror literature, apparently picked an apt name for itself. The first of these games, Dark Corners of the Earth, was announced way back in 2001 and has since been delayed until fall of this year. But, hopefully, the game is now on track for release. We've been looking forward to Dark Corners since we first laid eyes on it, because this game looks as though it's going to capture much of the psychological terror and strange, unsettling scares that Lovecraft's fiction focuses on.

Interestingly, the game will incorporate a sanity system--or, rather, a lack-of-sanity system. The player's character, named Jack Walters, experiences shock from the bizarre sights and sounds of the game. As a result, hallucinations and other surprises may start to affect Jack's perception of the gameworld. This sounds similar to the system incorporated in the GameCube adventure game Eternal Darkness, which was predictable enough because it was clearly inspired by Lovecraft's work.

Call of Cthulhu resembles a first-person shooter, but, as evidenced by the sanity system and other features, apparently it will play much differently. For one thing, the main character's performance will actually suffer as he sustains physical damage. He may suffer a broken leg and find it difficult to move. He may even find himself shivering from taking a dip in an icy pool of water. And don't expect high-tech health packs or any modern amenities to help you in these types of situations, because Call of Cthulhu is set in the 1920s. Accordingly, you'll be armed with the conventional pistols and rifles of the era, which presumably won't easily defend you from the horrific sorts of creatures you'll be facing. All this may not sound like someone's idea of a good time, but it should certainly make for the sort of oppressive and fearsome atmosphere that Lovecraft's work attempts to evoke.

The game also promises advanced artificial intelligence on behalf of the alien foes you'll be facing. They won't just plow directly toward you, but they may track you relentlessly through the game's environments. After all, you won't often be able to stave them off directly, but you may, instead, need to flee to fight another day. The game will consist of 16 different levels and promises replayability in the form of "mythos points," which you'll earn more of on successive play-throughs by uncovering more secrets and solving more riddles. The game will apparently also feature open-ended play, so it will equally reward a run-and-gun approach versus a cautious, stealthy one.

Call of Cthulhu: Dark Corners of the Earth is apparently on track for release in the fourth quarter of this year for both the PC and Xbox. After that, Headfirst can focus its attention on the next Call of Cthulhu game it's announced--Beyond the Mountains of Madness. We're looking forward to seeing the latest build of Dark Corners on the E3 show floor and will bring you our impressions of the game at that time.

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