It was at the beginning of the year that Blini Games brought Lovecraft’s Untold Stories to Steam, but they didn’t stop there. Seeing the success of their game being launched on the PC and Mac platform, they brought it down to the mobile level. The question is, does a map randomizing, action horror game come through as well on an iOS or Android? I tried it for myself and in short, kind of.
Under the reign of the Great Old Ones, creatures of both large and fierce magnitudes roam the Earth causing havoc and wrecking destruction. Humanity, as a whole, wouldn't dare to fight back against them, so it goes unsaid that the stories of the few that would stand against them go untold.
Starting the game as the Detective, you get to start off with the first taste of the gameplay in an easy-to-traverse mansion. The entrance alone is the only time you will approach the level instead of spawn in it and it acts as a small tutorial. Forcing you to do the rolling action over some trees, teaching you that not only does the roll exist but it can be used to get over obstacles, providing a bunch of boxes for your to melee punch open, a locked chest that can’t be open because we don’t have the right key, but no enemies so you don’t have to shoot anything.
Note that if you want to play as a different character than the Detective, you will have to find them somewhere in one of the maps and then save them. This will usually be a mixture of a puzzle and a ton of action, so be ready for a full-on battle with both your skill and your mind to rescue them in order to make them playable.
The movement and shooting are set up a lot like a twin-stick shooter. The left analog is for movement and the right analog is for firing your weapon. You don’t have a limit on ammo, but weapons do need to be reloaded. You start off with a double-barrel shotgun, meaning two shots and reload, but this can easily be upgraded to provide more shots before reloading.
When I say upgraded, I am speaking about the various equipment items you can find in the various chests throughout the levels. Each one has its own properties, some are specific to character types, so it is a mixture of luck and player preference which one you end up using. These items can also be bought at the shops that are found in each level; one using clues as currency and the other using money. The shops also purchase things from you, so if you find treasures, books, and even some consumables that you don’t want, they can all be sold. Just be sure to sell the right items to the right shop so you can get the most value out of it.
Maps are randomly generated, so you never know what will be where. If you find a storage area on the map, not including “The Strange Place,” then note that it is a one time use. After you open it, know that it will no longer be accessible once you close that menu. This makes it a little difficult to get the right stuff for selling to the shops, but it is helpful when you find yourself with a full inventory - though that might not happen often. The good thing that is consistent is that you will know which pathway leads to the boss of the map because before you open the door you will see ghostly tentacles coming up to it. This is your indication that the boss is just on the other side of that door.
There are plenty of traps and enemy attack types that can cause hindrances. This could be bleeding from spikes or claws to poison from acid spit. You will be able to use items to counter these as well as heal, but you might be surprised how quickly these can be used up. Be sure to use your items wisely and keep stocked up with everything you need.
The last thing to keep in mind is to be mindful of what you inspect. Sometimes you will be given options when you inspect something and this response could be the difference between walking away and dying. This could be anything from a book of pictures to looking at a statue; if you examine the wrong thing or make the wrong choice while examing something your sanity will deplete. Once you go insane, you kill yourself!
Graphics and Sounds
Everything in the game is pixelated, but easy to distinguish. Even with everything made out of pixels, the enemy variety, character changes, and details on the bosses are all pretty well done. They do a good job giving off that Lovecraftian look while working with so little.
The music was well placed and fitting for the atmosphere. There were changes in the styles according to what map you are on, but it was always dark and gave an eerie atmosphere to the game. Plus the intense music during fights made them feel as dangerous as they often turned out to be.
With maps being randomized and there is a full list of things to gather in order to understand the truth behind each of the Great Old Ones, there is plenty to go back and do. Chances are, you won’t experience every part of the map for all of the maps giving you plenty to go check out again. Plus, there are multiple characters to play as they give their own type of experience.
What Could Be Better
While I had fun playing the game, I can’t help but feel it would be better on the computer or on a console. Bringing this kind of game to the mobile platforms rather than the consoles doesn’t seem like the choice that was best for the game, but does make it likely to hit a wider audience. It was a difficult game, even when put on Easy, which is made even harder with phone controls.
It is such a large game with a variety of opportunities, so it should have more than one save the file. Only having one file is rather limiting for a game with so much possibility in it. Not to mention that there isn’t any way to lower the difficulty of a file that someone may be stuck on causing them to not only start over but overwrite everything they did so far.
Lovecraft’s Untold Stories felt like a very fitting action horror game to bring the Lovecraftian game list. It is easy to say that it would be more enjoyable on the computer than it was on my phone, but for a mobile version of a difficult twin-stick shooter, it really is enjoyable. Just be ready for a true challenge if you snag this one up.