Call of Cthulhu: Dark Corners of The Earth combines classic adventure and puzzle-solving with a realistic FPS experience
In the first chapter, the only difference between DCOTE and a traditional adventure games is its first-person view, and an inventory similar to traditional survival-horror games. The first-person view is a very interesting feature, because the game utilizes your point of view to create a really catchy and realistic atmosphere. Good use of textures and full-screen effects help to put you right in the middle of the story, and the story is really catchy too. It is not an exact remake of H.P.Lovecraft literature, but it captures the essence of Cthulhu mythos and does a wonderful job of turning it into a playable experience. But while the story is impressive, the art direction is not. People behave oddly or force you do certain things, which in nature, are ridiculous. For example in one of the worst scenes of the game a sailor stands next to a door and asks you to bolt the door (I don’t think it requires a lot of experience or energy to bolt a door, or does it? The sailor could bolt the door by himself). In another scene, you have to leave your friend in a car. The enemies spot you even from a very long distance, but they don’t bother looking at the boy in the car so close to them.
DCOTE has realistic environments and an interesting lighting system which creates realistic and spooky indoor and outdoor scenery. But unlike those nice environments, character modeling in DCOTE is terrible. Characters are ugly and unnatural, and most of them look exactly alike. There are tainted people who are -and should be- ugly, but even normal people share the same basic characteristics (big foggy eyes, for example). There are few exceptions however, which have a more humane look. But unlike human models which are not so eye-catching, monster models and dead bodies are amazing (I can’t believe I am saying this). Some of those monsters and other ‘things’ are really scary and shake you to the bone.
While other games use realistic graphics and scary scenes as eye-candy, DCOTE utilizes its graphics as a powerful tool to change your gaming experience. If you gaze at scary scenes, you will start to feel dizzy and your view will change (and it is a lot more difficult to play when you feel dizzy). If you remain in un-nerving places for a long time, you will start to lose your control. You character will talk to himself, and may start shooting. In most sever cases, you may commit suicide.
The game has a pretty good voice-acting in cut-scenes; but the voice acting is repetitive and annoying in the game. First, your character talks to himself most of the time. He gives you useful tips and information, but as you play on, his phrases, like: “It’s an old grandfather clock” become repetitive and boring. If your character becomes nervous, he will start talking to himself. Now, if you examine or use something, his mood will change into a very happy mood, as nothing has happened! Besides, while graphics and gameplay create such an interesting blend of realism, your character’s babblings ruins the game’s otherwise realistic atmosphere. Your enemies’ voices –especially when they are looking for you- are even more repetitive than those of yours, and seriously damage the game’s value.
The first chapter of DCOTE is a mere introduction to both story and game mechanics, which is interesting to play. But as you progress, the game will start to change into a more action-oriented experience. DCOTE combines adventure, action, stealth and survival themes, but is not successful in all of them.
In several areas, you will have to use stealth as the only option. The game uses interesting settings for stealth: the scene becomes a little blurry when you are in stealth mode and your enemies will not play dumb when you are in their eyesight. But your already slow speed will reduce even more, and it will take a lot of time to move from one place to another. And there are not many places which you can use stealth as an alternative to combat.
Combat, in the other hand, is ‘the’ flaw of the game. You do not have any cross-hair, but you can use 2nd mouse button to aim more precisely. It is a nice feature however, because it makes you anxious and adds to the realism of the game. But when you shoot all of the bullets, the game does not reload automatically, and you will have to reload manually. It may seem easy, but makes the combat a lot more difficult. Reloading takes a very long time, which is good and bad. It is good because reloading is very realistic. It is bad because your enemies are fast, so they take their time and kill you while you are reloading. And you never know how many bullets are left in you gun, so you will have to count every shot (which is a very difficult task in middle if a battle) or pray that you do not run out of bullets in middle of a battle. Another option –while you have depleted the bullets in you gun- is to switch to another gun. For some unknown reason, it takes a very long time to switch between guns in this game, and makes the combat a lot harder. Those already annoying controls become even more annoying when you use traditional PC controls. DCOTE for PC is a port from X-BOX version of the game, and it is not a good port at all. For example, your mouse will not work as smooth as it would in any other PC FPS. And you can not map 3rd or 4th or 5th mouse-buttons to any of your abilities. These bad controls become a serious problem when you have to deal with the game’s uber-powerful enemies. All of the enemies in this game are extremely tough, and in some levels they just keep re-spawning. Because of the game’s poor AI, the enemies do not take cover; they just rush towards you and hit you as hard as they can. When an enemy spots you (especially when in stealth mode) an army of enemies attack you and even if you manage to kill them, they just keep coming.
DCOTE uses a very strange health system. You get hurt real easy and even in the game’s easiest setting, enemies deal tremendous amounts of damage with smallest blows. As you get hurt, the scene starts to become gray and when you are close to dying, everything slows down. If you break one of your feet, your speed will decrease a bit and you will start shambling. If you break both of your feet, you will move very slowly. If you become wounded, you will start to bleed. You have to fix your wound fast, because if you bleed for a long time, you will lose too much blood and you will eventually die. It is very easy to fix a wound: you can click on a grid which tells you how to cure, and where to cure. It is a very interesting system, but it is not polished. Since you get hurt often, you will have to use a lot of bandages and med packs, which are scarce.
In some levels, you do not have any kind of weapon, or your weapons are too weak. This is where you must start to run (and the game changes into a true survival experience). Escaping from enemies is a very exciting part of the game. However, you must time your movements, and use your environment (for example, you can bolt the doors or use cupboards to close doorways), because your enemies are very eager to catch you, and if they do, you won’t survive for long.
Sorrily, bugs play a major part in this game. The game occasionally crashes to desktop, auto-save feature does not work sometimes, and in one case (in “A dangerous voyage” level), all of the walls and floors became invisible. Because of bad scripting, several major bugs may prevent you from finishing the game; like the bugs in the Hydra boss fight and the final run, where you have to elude the rublle in order to reach safety.
Despite the lack of polish, unfair gameplay and major stability problems, DCOTE is a very interesting game, especially for those who are interested in a little more innovation in gaming industry.