As I’ve stated before in other articles (and a review) here on Informed Pixel, H.P. Lovecraft is having a bit of a renaissance. There have been multiple iterations of his stories releasing over the last year or two, all with different styles of gameplay.
Frogwares The Sinking City was a third-person action-adventure, with the underpinnings of their Sherlock Holmes franchise; the player explores Oakmont, Massachusetts (a fictional town) while trying to uncover a mystery. World of Horror mixed Lovecraft cosmic horror with Junji Ito’s manga style.
Cyanide created their own first-person survival-horror game with more stealth, The Call of Cthulhu. Being an avid fan of his, I’ve played them all; fortunately, the unknown in Lovecraft’s universe is infinite. Today’s Indie Highlight, Lovecraft’s Untold Stories, is another foray into the eldritch light of his work.
Lovecraft’s Untold Stories, developed by Blini Games, is an action rogue-like with RPG elements. It’s a top-down shooter, much like Enter the Gungeon, though less of a bullet-hell. But that doesn’t mean it is without its own challenges. Like any rogue-like worth its salt, the game is hard, randomized and a death ends your entire run.
So it’s not wholly unique in that sense. Where the interesting stuff comes in is how they incorporate Lovecraft’s work. Throughout the 5 levels, places like a Graveyard and Laboratory, the player fights against all sorts of feral creatures and cultists. While starting off with the Detective as your character, you unlock more by fulfilling special missions within the levels.
These include a Professor, Witch and a Ghoul. Each character has unique abilities (like the Detective’s chance to “search” certain objects) and their own starter weapon. Each level also has a hidden “mission”. If completed, the player will sometimes access an entirely new level, a sort of secondary part to the level was just played.
Once found, the player will gain information on the big baddies of the game– the Great Old Ones themselves. As you gather more of this info (some of which is only available to certain characters), your chances of surviving against the likes of Cthulhu or Nyarlathotep grow. You can choose to fight them whenever you like, but without the all-important information your sanity will decline steadily.
Which brings me to an aspect that is expected in every Lovecraft game– that of a sanity meter. Here it’s used like most others– you can inspect objects, but sometimes it will come at the cost of your sanity. Chocolate will help alleviate your insanity, but if it reaches a certain point, your character will immediately off themselves. It creates a nice tight-wire of wanting to gather info but trying to keep your character’s sanity intact.
As for difficulty, keep in mind this is a rogue-lite. You are expected to die and replay it repeatedly. While I usually find myself growing tired of these types of games rather quickly, I keep coming back to this one. Sure, its probably my love for Lovecraft, but its also the replayability.
So if you are looking for a darker game, both in tone and visuals (seriously, the game is pretty dark visually, to the point it can be hard to see traps) then this may be the one for you.
Lovecraft’s Untold Stories, Informed Pixel’s Indie Highlight of the week, is available now on Android, Nintendo Switch, PC, PlayStation 4, and Xbox One. I have been playing the Nintendo Switch version.
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