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There are weeks when the Steam Charts surprise us! There are weeks when interesting new and old games reappear, pushing out the dreary regulars! And then mostly there are weeks like this one, where it’s so depressingly bland that it starts raining outside the moment you glance at it. Not good rain, just bland drizzle.
So many books in the old Hawkins place! Oh man, whole walls of the things. Books on shelves, books opened on tables and stacked in chairs. And in the playroom - such a sad playroom! - there's a fortress made of books laid out on the floor, with little wooden soldiers standing guard.
That's a nice moment, the fortress of books. I took a screenshot, I think. I certainly paused on my theoretically tense exploration of the theoretically creepy old mansion I was poking through. A nice breather ahead of the theoretically shocking jump-scare that waited ahead of me, and the theoretically heart-pounding mini-chase that followed. I am several hours into Call of Cthulhu by this point, and that fortress of books now lies far behind me. I am easily scared - by Netflix shows, by games, by real life with its strange shadows and sudden clattering sounds. And yet so far Call of Cthulhu has not scared me at all. Not even a little bit. I can't really imagine it becoming scary. And I think there are two reasons why.
Let's get a couple of things out of the way first. Isn't it the case that I haven't played enough to get to the scary stuff? This is certainly possible - and I am willing to believe that the game might scare the heck out of me by the end. And yet Call of Cthulhu is theoretically scary from the very start. From the first sequence it's chucking stuff at you which feels like it's A-grade material. I don't think I'm simply trudging through the slow burn moments. I think the stuff it's trying to pull isn't working the way it should.
I played the first three hours of Call of Cthulhu, and in my unconventional preview after the fact I said that I liked exploring the docks and talking to grizzled locals and detectoring my way through problems. At the end of the preview you reach the bit where you find the cult, and you> totally know what s up, but your character Edward Pierce has no idea. He just gets chased out of a cave. And I said:
The worry would be that, having discovered the Cult Of Cthulhu is a thing, the game becomes more scripted chases than it is grumbling around with the locals.
Well, fate makes fools of us all. As Edward Pierce would tell you.