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10 Creepy Lovecraftian Video Games That Will Give You Nightmares

VOICE OVER: Riccardo Tucci WRITTEN BY: Caitlin Johnson
Welcome to MojoPlays! Today, we're looking at 10 Lovecraftian video games. Try not to go insane looking at these cosmic horrors. Our list includes “Call of Cthulhu” (2018), “The Darkside Detective” (2017), “Darkwood” (2017), “Sunless Sea” (2014), “The Sinking City” (2019) and more!
Transcript
Script written by Caitlin Johnson

10 Lovecraftian Video Games


Welcome to MojoPlays! Today, we’re looking at 10 Lovecraftian video games. Try not to go insane looking at these cosmic horrors.

“Call of Cthulhu” (2018)


The “Call of Cthulhu” table-top game has been a popular TTRPG for decades, but in 2018 it was finally adapted directly for consoles and computers. You play as Edward Pierce, an ailing detective who’s hired to investigate the disappearance of the celebrated, surrealist painter Sarah Hawkins. It turns out that Hawkins’ paintings are able to summon the TTRPG’s most iconic monsters, and you’ve got to avoid them while solving the case. It’s not a perfect game by any means, but it knows what people want from it and it delivers. You’ll definitely have fun picking apart all the references to the Cthulhu mythos.

“The Darkside Detective” (2017)


Twin Lakes City is overrun with the supernatural; ghosts, parallel worlds, cults, and whisperings of ancient old ones are rife. The residents have pretty much learned to live with the strange goings-on, but that doesn’t mean they don’t get into trouble every now and then. That’s where the Darkside Division, helmed by Detective McQueen with his trusty sidekick Officer Dooley, comes in. The cases are all short, sweet, and incredibly charming; it’s a spooky game that doesn’t scare, ideal for anyone who wants the vibe of weird fiction without jumping out of their skin. And on top of that, it’s got an incredible soundtrack and gorgeous, pixel art graphics.

“Call of Cthulhu: Dark Corners of the Earth” (2005)


Despite the name, “Call of Cthulhu: Dark Corners of the Earth” isn’t an adaptation of “The Call of Cthulhu” at all; it’s actually based on one of Lovecraft’s longest and arguably better stories, “The Shadow over Innsmouth”. In fact, about ninety percent of the game is directly reworking this story, which sees a haunted, New England detective travel to the coastal town of Innsmouth, full of strange citizens who have the so-called “Innsmouth Look” – meaning they’re half man, half fish. Eventually, you’ll come face to face with the Cthulhean, tentacle creatures you expect, but for the most part, it’s simply adapting this one story and doing it exceptionally well. The gunplay is dated but it’s still a great experience.

“Darkwood” (2017)


There’s something reminiscent of “Silent Hill” in the way “Darkwood”, through its top-down perspective and pitch-black lighting, limits your field of view. There’s no point in the game where you can see everything around you, and when you’re exploring a monstrous and plague-ravaged land, why would you want to? It’s a very unique survival game, where you’re tasked with collecting meat and fungus to mix into a gruesome syringe you use to pump yourself full of skill points. It’s a disturbing and different type of horror, replacing the standard nautical imagery in Lovecraft with sinister trees. But it still has that sense of doom and existentialism associated with the genre. “Darkwood” will truly make your skin crawl.

“Sunless Sea” (2014)


In a dark and flooded version of old London town, you’ll take to the vast and unexplored seas that have risen up seemingly from nowhere. You’re a lone steamship captain whose job it is to traverse the ominous waters, fighting monsters, pirates, and recruiting people to your crew. The challenge is managing your resources carefully, so you don’t get lost at sea, while also keeping your crew sane enough to survive the daring voyage. Most of the quests take place in a text format, but the writing has been unanimously praised, foregrounding the deep, unfriendly ocean and the horrors that lurk just below the great, green surface.

“The Sinking City” (2019)


This is a weird game, to say the least. Coming from developer Frogwares, previously known for a series of Sherlock Holmes games, you play as another 1920’s detective struggling with strange visions. Charles Reed travels to the strange, flooded town of Oakmont and encounters stories from throughout Lovecraft’s canon. There’s the fish-like Innsmouthers, tentacled statues, and plenty of dangerous sea creatures. It is, however, pretty janky; it’s got a decent number of bugs, lots of asset recycling, and an archive system that, while interesting, is ultimately a slog to use. Still, the stories themselves in both the main quest and side quests are great, and the whole game boasts a nuanced take on Lovecraft and his work.

“Stygian: Reign of the Old Ones” (2019)


Combat is a difficult thing to get right in a horror game where you’re fighting imperceivable, ancient gods possessing unimaginable power; and the turn-based combat in “Stygian” still isn’t perfect. But it’s definitely unique and makes this game stand out. There are eight character archetypes to choose from in this RPG, among them a detective – of course – but also an actual cultist, a singer, and an aristocrat. As one of these archetypes you explore the decaying town of Arkham, Lovecraft’s most famous location, simply trying to survive in a world that wants you – and everybody else, for that matter – dead.

“Call of the Sea” (2020)


This indie puzzle game may have fallen under the radar in late 2020, but it’s definitely not something you should miss if you’re even a little into Lovecraftian fiction. “Call of the Sea” is original because it has a female protagonist, Norah; this is still something you don’t see too often in the mythos because Lovecraft himself didn’t have particularly “progressive” views on women. Norah has a mysterious illness and her husband, Harry, ventures to a supposedly cursed – yet beautiful – island in the Pacific Ocean to search for a cure. He disappears and it’s down to Norah to follow him, unlocking the truth of the island and her strange disease.

“Eternal Darkness: Sanity’s Requiem” (2002)


As the title responsible for bringing the “sanity meter” out of the world of TTRPGs and into video games, Eternal Darkness’ influence can’t be understated. A generation-spanning game boasting a dozen playable characters all with their own combat styles, it takes centuries to unlock the mysteries of the grisly “Tome of Eternal Darkness”. It was an incredibly ambitious game from the short-lived but popular development studio Silicon Knights that proves just how timeless Lovecraftian lore is. Ancient gods, insane heroes, and dark magic abound in this modern classic. Just be careful you don’t let your sanity drop too low or you’ll start hallucinating indescribable horrors.

“Bloodborne” (2015)


Not only is “Bloodborne” arguably the best Lovecraftian game ever made, but it’s also one of the best video games of all time period. The first half of the game strikes you as standard, Gothic horror; it’s still outstanding, but it’s mostly Victorian spires and werewolf creatures. Then you discover the truth behind the Healing Church and the corruption of the blood vials, stumbling across cosmic horrors that have descended from the stars. “The Old Hunters” DLC turns the Lovecraftian themes up to eleven, with every boss just as horrifyingly magnificent to behold as Cthulhu. And of course, with this being a FromSoft game, the enemy design and moment-to-moment gameplay is top tier!
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