Wait for it… I finally beat my first game of 2017! Either this Four In February event is a really good influence, or I’ve finally given myself an achievable goal with a short game. For the first time ever, I’ve started a game, finished it, then blogged about it, all in under 24 hours. I’m so proud! This parody RPG game’s sarcastic humor had me hooked from the opening, and I really needed the morale boost after a stressful week. I enjoyed spending my glorious Saturday helping the Lovecraftian terror save the world, as his ultimate scheme to destroy it.
How Far I Got
I conquered the main story in a mere 6 hours. Yes, I did choose Easy Mode. Don’t judge okay… I had rough week. I was more interested in witnessing Cthulhu’s antics than banging my head against the desk with a higher difficulty. Anyway, a few bonus modes were unlocked after the true hero saved the world, but I had my fill of this witty adventure. Here’s all of the fancy stats I earned:
One of those annoying RPG heroes has defeated an Ancient Evil known as Cthulhu, sealing away the squid monster’s malevolent power. In order to destroy the world he despises, the dejected cosmic terror needs to save it first so he can get back on his feet. After arguing with the game’s narrator over player welfare and meeting up with his first groupie, the bitter Cthulhu sets off on his not-so-righteous quest to become the world’s True Hero. It’s apparent during the tutorial that this is not intended to be a serious adventure. The game constantly pokes fun at early Final Fantasy-esque RPG mechanics, including subtle jabs at Square itself. The humorous story goes many insane places, enemy descriptions are incredibly sarcastic, and be prepared for many cheesy one-liners from the crazy cast of characters. A dry sense of humor is an asset while tackling this silly quest. Knowledge of H.P. Lovecraft’s universe is required if you want to fully appreciate Cthulhu’s amusing antics and the world’s parody locales.
The witty references are what make this indie title shine, but there is a fun game at the core of all the superb sarcasm. The game plays as a traditional four party member turn-based RPG, with many of the expected mechanics. You get gold and XP from killing hilarious monsters, there are various spells to cast, several abilities to learn as you level-up, and many simple dungeons to crawl around in. The mechanics are easy to grasp and you’ll really only be mashing a few keys the whole time. Thankfully, the designer’s didn’t pay attention to Cthulhu’s whining and player welfare was obviously a top priority. You can save anywhere you please, your party is fully healed after each fight, and there are tons of 1-Ups around; the game’s do over item if an encounter destroys you. Pesky random encounters are also limited to 25 per area before the monsters stop harassing you. The path to the dark god’s final showdown is very straightforward and there’s not much to do if you like exploring side missions. If I can beat a game the same day I started it, it’s definitely short but there are various game modes to add some replay value.
The whole game is essentially a throwback to those glory pixelated Japanese RPG days, and the graphic design does an excellent job recreating the atmosphere. The animations flow smoothly and it’s a nice touch to show Cthulhu’s active party members following him through the polished world. Battles are nicely shown from the perspective of the party. Enemy designs are all unique in a special goofy kind of way, and they fit the satirical tone of the game perfectly.
The game’s composer, Gordon McNeil, obviously borrowed several pages right out of Final Fantasy’s score book. There is lots of adventurous music along the absurd journey, whimsical melodies in the more well-off towns, and ominous ballads playing in the depths of the sort of dangerous dungeons. Zeboyd Games, the brilliant company who designed this gem, has the whole soundtrack available to download for free on their website if you’re interested in listening. There are plenty of the usual sound effects as well but nothing really noteworthy.
My Overall Biased Opinion
The game’s sarcastic charm had me hooked instantly. As soon as Cthulhu crashed through the game’s Fourth Wall, I knew I wasn’t going to stop playing until I finished it. I can’t speak highly enough of the little details Zeboyd Games included. I’m not kidding. They actually took the time to add a different joke description to every single bookshelf/dresser you can examine. I truly wanted to talk to each NPC in the world. Not for the hope of getting some rare item, but to just see what smartass remark Cthulhu or one of his groupies would make to them. If you don’t appreciate satirical humor or nostalgic references, the gameplay alone will likely not hold your interest long enough to beat it. Every dungeon is essentially the same walk through a simple maze, followed by a beat the boss requirement at the end. The overworld path doesn’t deviate very often, and the random fights near the end are tedious, even with the random battle cap I never reached. Overall, this is a fantastic indie title with a cheap price tag. It’s worth giving it a shot just to see the terrifying Cthulhu under a slightly more heroic spotlight.
SPOILERS AHEAD! You have been warned.
Favourite Story Moment
I loved every nonsensical story moment in this game. From defeating the real heroes before ascending a heroic shine to helping an ambiguous space kitty take down a rival, I couldn’t stop smirking the whole time. As a Final Fantasy fan, I literally laughed out loud with Cthulhu made a joke about the real group of heroes for gathering meaningless crystals. The sweet ending was my favourite part of the adventure though. A benevolent Cthulhu takes off in his spaceship, with his new soulmate Umi in tow. I can assume everyone lived happily ever after, in their own weird ways of course.
Cthulhu’s ability to make enemies insane. This mechanic visibly turns baddies into twisted versions of themselves and unlocks several benefits as well.
Favorite “Oh S@#%” Moment
After beating the leader of his own crazy cult of followers, Cthulhu finally amasses enough Hero Points to become the world’s True Hero, completing the noble objective needed to finish his malevolent quest. The game shows a scene where the love struck Umi tries to convince Cthulhu he’s good now, but he brushes her off and a Game Over screen is shown when he takes over the world. The game reluctantly rewrites this ending so a redeemed Cthulhu can save the world from another cosmic terror.
The zombie apocalypse plagued Dunwich was my favourite town. In addition to pleasing my inner Resident Evil fan (there was even a joke about needing a hexagonal key that was inscribed on a tombstone), this was the first time Cthulhu showed his softer side. Immediately after entering the undead infested area, Cthulhu orders his party to not kill any more innocent zombies than necessary. The absurdity of having to navigate around stationary dancing zombie obstacles added to my overall enjoyment of the spooky area.
Likable characters are a critical component of any good RPG, satirical or not. I found something special about each one of Cthulhu’s groupies. There’s the main groupie Umi who has an obvious crush on the burly tentacle-face man. Sharpe the swordsword, not swordsman, who is literally a wisecracking living blade. October the fiery sorceress who knows how to properly deal with undead. Paws the non gender defined space cat who is also Cthulhu’s old cosmic drinking buddy. Dacre the confused old healer who Umi thinks is Santa Clause. Ember the demon dragon, not just a dragon, who gives you the awesome ability to fly in the overworld. My favourite has to be the indifferent Cthulhu himself. I love self-aware main characters with more sarcastic remarks than I’m physically able to laugh at.
Most Tedious Gameplay Moment
The challenging random encounters near the end of game were quite monotonous. At this point I had my fill of walking through easy dungeon mazes and I just wanted to vanquish the other evil dark god to call it a game.
“You can save at any time? What is this a first-person shooter game?” – Cthulhu, while arguing with the game’s narrator during the tutorial.