E3 2017: Call of Cthulhu Changes Course From Previous Entries, Takes A More “Outlast” Approach

 

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The E3 2017 Call of Cthulhu Trailer has just been revealed, and with it we gain a little extra insight into how the game, slated for a late 2017 release on Xbox, Playstation, and PC, will look, play, and feel.

The trailer opens with a large black bird, ostensibly a crow or raven, sitting near a creaky, dark-lit sign welcoming us to the town of Darkwater. It appears the reboot of the Call of Cthulhu series will once again return us to the sort of moribund fishing town seen its predecessor, Dark Corners of the Earth. This time, however, it seems the player’s enemies will be more psychological than physical, as developer Cyanide opts for fear of the unknown and Lovecraftian horror sequences over conflicts with trigger-happy townies and grotesque fish-men hybrids.

An elderly but authoritative voice fades in and out as we are quickly drawn into several sequences of darkly shadowed buildings and a fast-paced chase scene in which the protagonist, Edward Pierce, chases an entity through a house until a foreboding staircase is revealed behind a bookshelf. As the music mounts, we see flashes of bloody butchering, scarlet-streaked linen, an occult amulet, and robed cultists with grotesque white faces until suddenly, we’re thrown underwater into a gloomy green chamber. A giant squid jets nearby as the camera pulls back, revealing that we are surrounded by lengthy tendrils rippling softly with the currents. It’s not quite made clear whether they do in fact belong to The Old One, or are simply great lengths of leafy seaweed, but large fish skeletons and wreckage can be seen among the dark appendages, backlit by some sort of green bioluminsescence.

A bookshelf, and a hidden staircase.

With a gasping breath, Pierce wakes up, and we find ourselves in some sort of hospital bed, possibly an asylum for the mentally ill. The voice we heard earlier is revealed to be the doctor’s, but his patient struggles to get away, as it was hinted in the previous montage that the physician is one of the game’s villains. As a nurse sedates Pierce and his vision fades, we the viewers are left wondering just how much of what we saw is a reality.

hospital
The hospital, and the good(?) doctor.

The game’s publisher, Focus Home Interactive, has stated that Call of Cthulhu will be similar in style to their Sherlock Holmes series, with the player investigating mysteries of the occult, so it’s unlikely we’ll have much gunplay in this newest Lovecraftian horror game. It seems a lantern will be a key tool when exploring, much like the hugely popular 2010 survival horror game Amnesia: The Dark Descent. Similarly, the player will most likely simply be forced to run and hide from enemies rather than fight back, another break from the last game bearing this title. Titles with similar playstyles like Outlast and Silent Hill 7 have quickly been gaining a following among gamers of all platforms.

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While this trailer was mostly a stream of mild psychological horror, in the Winter Trailer released January of this year, we hear several different voices talking of lost loved ones, monsters, and cities under the sea, as well as a shot of the protagonist at a desk covered in photos and papers. This presumably is a peek at the “Sherlock Holmes” investigative side of things. And if we look back at Call of Cthulhu’s E3 2016 trailer, not only do we get a look at the protagonist, we also hear him speak about the horrors he found on Darkwater Island, and a necessity to stop some dreaming entity from waking before it’s too late.

Edward Pierce
Protagonist Edward Pierce.

While this latest trailer doesn’t reveal much in the form of gameplay, we do get another taste at the dark tone and panicky atmosphere developer Cyanide is attempting to cultivate with Call of Cthulhu. If all goes according to schedule, then we’ll find out in the 4th quarter of this year if the newest Lovecraft-inspired videogame can breathe new life into the stories that were its inspiration.

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