Hippo Manchester
January 5, 2006

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Games: Call of Cthulhu: Dark Corners of the Earth
(XBOX/PC)
Headfirst Productions

H.P. Lovecraft was not a terribly good writer. Rather than communicate the indescribable, mind shattering, terrifying sanity-breaking form that one of his Cthulhoid horrors appears as, he will simply say,

“From the darkness an indescribable, mind shattering, terrifying sanity breaking horror emerged.”

Rule of thumb Lovecraft, if you use the phrase “indescribably horrible” in a description, writing probably isn’t the career for you.

And yet, the mythos that Lovecraft spawned, however poorly described is a compelling and skin crawling one. That mankind is merely a random offshoot of an experiment by inter-universal Elder Gods and the Great Old Ones (terrible god-monsters that lie asleep in the void). That a sleepy town called Innsmouth in Mass. could be overrun by Old One-worshiping cultists who slowly turn the town against our protagonist as the subterranean lairs of warped mind flaying terrors unleash sub human fish monsters into the night. Oh sorry there I go. . .

CoC:Dark Corners of the Earth was a long time in the making, and for the most part it was worth it. There is a creepy macabre that haunts every crevice of this exceedingly gloomy first person action adventure. As Early 20th century detective Jack Walters you must investigate the strange goings-on set in motion by the aforementioned cultists. You investigate the creepy surroundings, collecting clues and unraveling both the nefarious plot and the fabric of Walter’s mind. As you expose Jack to more and more “indescribable horrors” he begins to display signs of his faltering mental state. Chattering teeth, murmuring to himself, blurred vision and hallucinations color the game with spooky glee. For the majority of the game you are weaponless, which provides for some of the best chase sequences in recent memory. But, when guns do enter the fray it’s a bit of a downer. Mainly because the engine used to build Dark Corners ... is a tad dated and shows its age primarily in combat. There is a disquieting level of player immersion in the game. No health bars or Ammo readouts will pop up. You’ll know that you’re hurt by the bleeding screen and the gut churning sound of Jack limping along on a broken leg.

Dark Corners ... succeeds in translating the gruesome glory of Lovecraft’s mythology into a tight engaging thriller of a game with an even mix of puzzles, action and exploration. This comes at a cost though. The game will often feel a bit dated graphically, and you expect more scares than the game delivers.

— Glenn Given

B+