Call of Cthulhu review for Xbox One, PS4, PC

Platform: Xbox One
Also On: PC, PS4
Publisher: Focus Home Interactive
Developer: Cyanide
Medium: Digital/Disc
Players: 1
Online: No

You know what genre is popular right now? Survival horror. You know what genre isn?t? Mystery adventure, along the lines of Sherlock Holmes. You know what game would?ve worked perfectly had it stuck to being a mystery adventure, rather than trying to awkwardly shoe horn itself into the survival horror genre? Call of Cthulhu.

I mean, I get why it wants to be survival horror. As I said, the genre is popular. On top of that, it?s clearly horror-inspired, seeing as it draws heavily from the world of Lovecraft (as its title implies).

But as a horror game, Call of Cthulhu fails miserably. It?s not, you know, scary. It?s slow-moving, and ponderous, and demands that players take their time wandering slowly through creepy environments, talking to people and examining every little object they come across. Sure, there are a couple of moments where you?re fleeing monsters or otherwise worrying about not dying, but these are few and far between.

(It?s not a bad thing that these moments are so rare, mind you. Call of Cthulhu isn?t exactly a high-budget extravaganza, which means that when it tries to show off…well, anything, it just looks cheap.)

If, however, you look at Call of Cthulhu as a Sherlock Holmes-style mystery adventure, suddenly things don?t look so bad. It?s got a near-perfect tone, all creepy and gothic. The game calls on you to piece together crime scenes — which makes sense in a mystery, but just slows things down when you?re talking about horror. The story isn?t phenomenal, but it has just enough unknowns in it that it will keep you guessing about what?s coming next, which, again, is what you want in a mystery.

You might say that this is all semantics, and that regardless of how a game bills itself, what matters is how it plays. That may be true, but it?s still worth emphasizing that your enjoyment of Call of Cthulhu will depend entirely on what you?re expecting. If you want to be scared, look elsewhere, because this game will just come off as boring. If, however, you want a decent mystery, and don?t mind sitting through a few dumb attempts at stealth and scares, then this might just be up your alley.

Focus Home Interactive provided us with a Call of Cthulhu Xbox One code for review purposes.

Grade: B-