September 22, 2021

Xbox One X

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Several hours in, Call of Cthulhu doesn’t seem that scary

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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.

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