500 Word Game Reviews: Cthulhu Saves the World

As part of my goal to spend more time on PC gaming this year, I’m writing short reviews for The Student Room forum. Emphasis on short, approx. 500 words, because I tend to ramble otherwise!

I thought I might cross-post some of those on here in case they’re of interest to people, but I won’t do it for every single review, and I certainly don’t want it to be the only content I post on this blog all year. It is a useful thing to be able to fall back on when I’m too busy to write something new though, as I am this weekend. 😛 Anyhow, as mentioned in the title, my first review is for:

Cthulhu Saves the World (2010) – RPG, PC.

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Story: After eons of slumber, the Great Old One known as Cthulhu awakens to wreak havoc on the planet… until some random wizard seals away his powers. He can only undo this curse by changing his ways and becoming a hero in this JRPG-like game world, rescuing villages, clearing dungeons and defeating other Eldrich Horrors.

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As you may have guessed, this is not a serious game, parodying both the Cthulhu mythos and generic JRPGs. Quests all consist of ‘go there, kill that, gain hero points’, so don’t expect a gripping storyline. What makes this worth playing is the humour, mostly arising from the ridiculous chats between Cthulhu and the wacky party members you’ll recruit along the way.

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Gameplay: Do you like mazes, and hours of grinding? If not, this may not be the game for you. In order to get from the entrance to the boss at the top/bottom, you have to work your way through endless winding corridors, all the while hoping that the path you’ve taken doesn’t lead to a dead end. These mazes get larger and more complex as the game progresses, introducing things such as locked gates and one-way conveyor belts to frustrate you further. Though the dungeons look open and empty, every few steps your screen will flash, and you’ll find yourself battling a group of monsters. Again, plenty of humour to be found thanks to their ridiculous names and/or descriptions.

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Combat is your usual turn-based JRPG style. Party members have HP and MP – the former is restored after each battle, so don’t worry about leaving your party near-death if you’re confident you can defeat an enemy next turn. Conserving MP, however, is one of the biggest challenges the game throws at you. You regain a little after each battle, but barely enough to cast one spell. There are no mana potions, only full restore potions which are rare and worth holding onto. So if you’re using up all your MP on the first few encounters in a dungeon, consider leaving and grinding until you can clear them with physical attacks alone. Fortunately, the game is kind enough to offer full-restore points before each of the boss fights.

This game was short, taking me approx. 6 hours… but for an indie game you can pick up for £1.99 on Steam (bundled with another game, at that!), it’s good value for money IMO.

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Controls: Basic keyboard controls, you could use either WASD or arrow keys for movement, Return for most actions etc. Holding Left Shift let you run, or use Caps Lock to auto-run (may cause dizziness). The only thing that bugged me was that the Escape key only gave you the option to quit – saving etc was located in the inventory screen. I nearly lost my progress a couple of times due to that!

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Graphics: 16-bit-style graphics for the ultimate retro JRPG feel. I grew up playing such games, and though it does obviously look a lot more polished and high-definition, it still brought on the same feelings of nostalgia.

Overall: Short, basic, but a lot of fun. Great soundtrack, too. 6/10

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