CTHULHU CHRONICLES: a Lovecraftian Legacy

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Have you been yearning for a good adventure? Do you love horror, despair, madness and more? And most of all, do you enjoy text based adventures or H.P Lovecraft? If so, Cthulhu Chronicles might just satiate that craving you’ve been having. I found this gem and couldn’t have been more pleased.

I grew up on the Choose Your Own Adventure books as a kid and still have a good collection of forty or so in my home. The thrill of choosing my path was new to me, as was the idea of an interactive book.

When mobile phones and apps started becoming available commercially, I looked for good text based adventures- anything that would hail back to Zork. Rarely did I find anything that met my expectations. The EA Cause of Death was exceptional, but eventually the server shut down and the app was discontinued. A few other rpg text based apps popped up but they were generic and never quite felt like they were worth the pay-to-unlock-more-content for a good experience. The Telltale series has certainly delivered but it took the idea of interaction to a newer and more progressive tier. I still yearned for simple and engaging mechanics, and classic graphical interfacing.

So with time, I found the Cthulhu Chronicles. Ever since video games like Call of Cthulhu, or board games like Mansions of Madness, the gothic horror that the late H.P. Lovecraft was first to really bring to life, has—along with his Eldritch creations and his mind-bending writings—garnered quite a following.

The player navigates a series of “novels” (each plays more like one chapter in a more expansive storyline) as one of a number of characters. Each has sanity, life, and three skills: strength, persuasion, and book-smarts. Although each chapter has the same story and story branches, different characters with different skill levels will have to navigate challenges using different approaches. Most of the chapters have only a certain amount of time one in a “day” and so how you use your time investigating the villages, suspects, cults, and crime scenes will make all the difference for the outcome of your chapter.

A player might overpower or intimidate a suspect in one instance, or charm his or her way out of a problem the next. Perhaps one possible ally will provide a gun (for when you-know-what hits the fan) where no one other allies could. Different approaches unlock different medals and create some replay-ability of each chapter.

Will your character be able to keep focus on a counter ritual when nightmares threaten his or her sanity? Will you keep your friends safe as horrors spawn from otherworldly dimensions and assault the abandoned shack you find yourself in? Can you escape from an entire town bent on your being a sacrifice to their Elder Gods? With some good choices and a little luck, you might make it out alive.

Don’t let the first scenario fool you. It eases you into the gameplay and keeps your interest piqued just enough to continue then suddenly you’re trapped with no escape. Survival is possible if you have about half a brain. The second scenario took me about seven tries and lots of luck. For the sake of avoiding spoilers, let’s just say that the makers of The Cthulhu Chronicles weren’t kidding when they set out to recreate the suspense and drive of Lovecraft’s writings.

If you’re into text based games or you think now might be a good time to try them, Cthulhu Chronicles is a good place to start. Because each scenario builds on the last and the skill checks add an element of the unknown to the game, there is a feeling of progression as you move through the nine books available. Although you only get three free attempts a day, this is more than enough to make good progress with a few 10-15 minute sittings; and if you’re feeling rebellious, you can even play the chapters out of order; don’t be that guy or girl. Give Lovecraft’s inspirations a try—and I guarantee you’ll love it.

No author bio. End of line.