It is no lie that two of my favorite things in the world are Lovecraftian horror and video games. Which is why I am always excited for Lovecraft inspired video games, including Call of Cthulhu.
Cyanide released their horror survival role playing video game on October 30, 2018 for PC, Xbox One and PS4. This year, on October 8. 2019 they made the jump and ported it over to the Nintendo Switch. Honestly this came as a surprise to me as I will forever see the Nintendo Switch as a portable system and Call of Cthulhu isn’t really a portable type game. However, I was all for giving it a chance and I am so happy I did. I decided to challenge myself and play through the entire game in the full portable mode without a pro controller or docking and playing on a TV.
I originally played Call of Cthulhu on PC and was graced with the beautiful graphics. It uses the lighting, lack of light, and colors to help set the overall mood and tone. This adds to the overall tension to the game, but I can’t say it ever scared me like other horror games have.
The swap to the Nintendo Switch worked well for the graphics department. The cutscenes and overall imagery holds true, if not better on the new platform. I never felt like I was losing out by playing it on a smaller screen. A large portion of the game requires the use of a light source in order to see hidden objects or to make your way through maze type areas, which was transferred successfully to the Nintendo Switch.
Here is where I struggled a bit with Call of Cthulhu on both the Nintendo Switch and originally on the PC. The role playing game aspect, building your traits using points earned and deciding what strengths your character had, never felt like it had a big impact. It is possible that certain things are locked behind specific skills but I never felt like I was held back.
Moving around and shifting the camera on the Nintendo Switch felt natural using the left and right joy sticks. The camera movement is smooth but focusing on the smaller screen did cause my head to hurt after a while so I took several breaks during longer gameplay sessions. Call of Cthulhu uses several stealth scenarios that took a moment to get a grasp on but once I did they were a breeze.
It is a bit hard trying to read some of the smaller text on items that you find on the screen, so a way to enlarge it would have been very welcome. My biggest gripe with this game that I had with the Nintendo Switch port is the autosave function. When playing on PC, I knew I was going to be playing for a bit at a time so I would hit multiple checkpoints while playing. However, with this being a portable system for me I felt it should have included a manual save option. It was always stressful trying to figure out if I was going to hit a check point before I arrived to my next destination. Though playing at home on my own without a time frame was still the same.
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Nothing on the storyline changed from the first iteration to the Nintendo Switch port which is just fine. The story itself for me has always been compelling and filled the mysterious hunt that is promised. There are four possible endings that all depend on your overall ending sanity and the choices you make while on the island.
A gripe I do have on the storyline side is that the game is described as semi open world, however I don’t think that is the case. The story takes place mostly on the island of Darkwater and while you can investigate different areas, they are always along a linear story line. However, overall the storyline fits into a Lovecraft style with cults, sea life, old Gods and much more.
Overall this review isn’t just for the game itself, but how it feels after being ported over to the Nintendo Switch. And those feelings are terrific. The game feels just as good as the first time I played, including all the original frustrating parts that felt good when finished. However, it does fall short on a few things including not having a manual save function or a way to enlarge the text to ease readers eyes. If you are going to be at home playing Call of Cthulhu I would suggest docking your Nintendo Switch and playing it on a TV, but it is completely playable in the portable mode.
Call of Cthulhu is available to play now on PC through Steam, PS4, Xbox One and the Nintendo Switch.
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