Drool: Eldritch Is Thief Meets Lovecraft Meets Roguelike

By Nathan Grayson on September 11th, 2013 at 8:00 am.

Also there are dudes from Magicka for some reason.

Eldritch just got announced by former BioShock 2/Borderlands developers David and Kyle Pittman, but it’s already rocketed to the top of my list of Exciting Doodads That I Will (Lovingly) Obliterate With My Excitement Lasers. The headline does not lie. The roguelike-like counts games like Thief and Dishonored among its closest inspirations, bringing them together in a clammy, tentacle-slathered Lovecraftian embrace. In short, you can fight, sure, but you can also stealth past enemies, upgrade otherworldly powers, and climb around the environment to discover alternate paths through the harrowing infini-dungeon. Oh Eldritch, let me count the ways. Wait, I already did. You should probably just watch the (refreshingly silly) trailer, then.

Yeah, I can get behind that – mainly so it’s no longer able to sneak up behind me and slurp out my immortal soul through a silly straw. Here are the things you’ll be doing in Eldritch: Dishonor Of The Rogue Thief (subtitle tentative and also entirely fake):

  • Unearth ancient secrets and find your way to freedom!
  • Sneak, fight, and explore strange worlds!
  • Invoke mystical powers to augment your play style!
  • Randomly generated levels provide fresh challenges and opportunities!
  • Unlock shortcuts to jump directly to deeper dungeons!

The Pittmans are also keen to boast “non-linear levels and open-ended play styles,” which they say emerged from their love of Looking Glass games like Thief.

Potential jankiness of combat aside, it all looks positively marvelous, if you ask me. Eldritch is coming out on October 21st, and a preorder will get you into a beta that kicks off at the end of September. Also, it’s currently sneaking and stabbing its way through Steam Greenlight’s treacherous dungeons, if you feel like lending a helping thumb. John’s going to have some impressions of the game up later today. How’s everyone else feeling about it?

, , , , , , .

87 Comments »

  1. Velko says:

    I must sound like a broken record already, but ugh… that art style. No sale.

    • Caiman says:

      Conversely, I love the art style, so my purchase will cancel out your lack of purchase. This slightly blocky, retro look has so much atmosphere to it, perhaps because it reminds me of those awesome, early 3D Amiga and PC games I loved so much. I’ve been playing Ultima Underworld a lot lately too, so it’s pressing similar “want” buttons.

      • Spacewalk says:

        Well, I only half love the art style which probably balances things out more. I love those low poly monsters but I dislike the environment textures that make the game look like a Minecraft mod. If they changed those and maybe increased the detail in the environments I’d probably be off the fence and firmly in the court.

      • botonjim says:

        I wish it was more Ultima Underworld and less Minecraft though. Don’t mind the pixels but why has everything got to be square?

      • frightlever says:

        So you’d rather play this, or this exact game but with Dishonoured visuals and the Thief stealth system? You’d prefer the blocks, right?

        The lo-fi graphics are there to make the game easier to develop. It’s not an aesthetic choice it’s a budget imperative.

        • gunny1993 says:

          … He said he loved the art style, not that there aren’t better ones in existence.

        • Acorino says:

          Whatever the reasoning behind this art style, it looks pleasing enough.

          Certainly Skyrim, Crysis 2 and the Mass Effect series would have also looked better if they weren’t developed with console constraints in mind. Constraints aren’t a thing merely indie developers have to deal with.

    • ralphie says:

      I’m hoping this low-fi trend goes away sooner than later. If it had a interesting aesthetic, sure, but this just looks lazy.

      • torchedEARTH says:

        They might just be placeholder polygons.

        But I would play as an “@” symbol if the game play keeps me coming back for more.

      • fucrate says:

        Honestly, you can’t call two guys making a game on their own lazy. You just don’t have the knowledge of how much work goes into developing a game to have that opinion. It’s like a redneck from Mississippi saying he doesn’t think there’s enough evidence of climate change to believe it. It’s not just that he’s wrong, but he’s so mindbogglingly stupid that it’s just inappropriate for him to express his opinion and potentially pollute the minds of other people.

        You might not like the art style, sure, but please don’t call the developers lazy. They’ve probably worked extremely hard for dubious reward and I’d assume don’t actually have the budget to hire 400 3D artists for a year each, weird right?

        • SZ41X says:

          This is a discussion about a video game keep your fricking political opinions and straw man bashing out of it. I’m not gonna even bother arguing with you on that issue here to avoid stooping to your levels. Politics are important, but there is a place and time for everything. As for the the topic at hand, Yes it is indeed very difficult to make a game, especially in 3D. I have seen people working on games before and just the coding alone can be immense, but what I think people are mainly complaining about is the fact that allot of games coming lately seem to all be using these “Minecraft style” textures. I personally don’t mind this style being used every once and a while, but I really don’t want it to turn into another trend where almost every 3D indie game has to be like this. That said this game does look interesting.

      • lordfrikk says:

        If the gameplay is up to par I don’t really care to be honest.

      • MasterDex says:

        I’m hoping graphics whores die out so we can get back to focusing on the stuff that matters but who am I to say anything.

        This lo-fi art style is because this is a game made by two guys. If you have some method of attaining high fidelity graphics on a shoestring budget and skeleton workforce, please reveal your knowledge – every game developer in the world wants to know.

        • Enkinan says:

          I’d also add that it probably makes the ability to randomize the dungeons much easier as well.

    • Grey Poupon says:

      They really should start getting some critique about using such huge voxels. There’s some insanely pretty tech demos of voxel engines with tiny voxels that run just fine on modern computers. Granted this game is from two indie dudes, so I guess they don’t have that much time and resources to use, but I too find it a bit annoying. Maybe EQNext will finally change how people view voxel games. Maybe.

      • GameCat says:

        Game with graphics based on cubes =/= game running on voxel engine.

    • Premium User Badge

      mrwonko says:

      Well, there’s two developers – this is probably as much a budget decision as it is an art one. So they might not have much choice in how to make it look.

    • DrMcCoy says:

      I must sound like a broken record already, but ugh… Windoze only. No sale.

    • Lemming says:

      I don’t mind the art-style per se, but it seems to have enabled the developers to go for a “lol Cthulhu” tone, rather than anything resembling creeping terror (the tone of the trailer pretty much confirms it), which is kind of the easy way out, tbh: The Lovecraft veneer but none of the substance.

      • MasterDex says:

        I find that goes for anything Lovecraftian that wasn’t actually something written by Lovecraft himself. Not one person has managed to recreate the horror and unease that the man himself can distill in someone.

        • Bank12 says:

          Now that’s a load of bullshit. You obviously haven’t been reading the good stuff, I.e. Thomas Liggoti, Laird Barron, Jeff Vandermeer.

          • MasterDex says:

            Don’t get me wrong. There are still plenty of good horror and weird writers out there. I meant when people try to use the Lovecraft lore or make a Lovecraft tale into a movie. They never actually capture why Lovecraft can be so fun to read.

    • Text_Fish says:

      Low-tech is the only way to do Lovecraft without completely losing the essence of what makes it scary. That’s why Quake 1′s still the best Lovecraft inspired computer game available.

  2. ran93r says:

    Concept could be interesting, enemy models look a little too friendly for me but will certainly keep an eye on this, despite the music in the trailer sounding like it belongs to an 80′s sitcom about gypsies.

    • Twitchity says:

      Yeah, the part at :21 when the player ganks the Deep One actually looks a bit cruel. Poor guy was just bouncing along, being all eldritch and suchlike. It’s true: humans are the real monsters.

  3. IanWharton says:

    Wow! This looks great.

  4. tehsorrow says:

    At the risk of sounding like a hipster I liked it better when Cthulhu wasn’t a pop-culture icon.

    • gunny1993 says:

      ‘The Nameless City” is best Cthulhu mythos.

    • Premium User Badge

      VelvetFistIronGlove says:

      Cthulhu hates it more than you. Just think about it: you’re an ancient evil elder god with untold power, the merest glimpse of whom makes people gibberingly insane—and yet people mock you with things likes this or this.

      Yeah. When Cthulhu wakes, he’s going to be really mad.

    • AlmostPalpable says:

      The reason people like to use the Cthulhu mythos is because everything is literally(!!!!!) unimaginable so you don’t even have to imagine anything, just put some tentacles here and some slightly weird geometry there ET VOILAS! People will lap it up because Cthulhu.

      I personally was a huge Lovecraft fan but over the years I’ve had so much “Lovecraftian” shit rammed down my throat from games developers that I could never enjoy any of his work again. You play the same damn record over and over again and you will begin to hate it. Thanks, games developers and your god damned ORIGINALITY.

    • Premium User Badge

      Jonfon says:

      I think one of the main reasons is simply that the mythos is now in the public domain. So developers can use aspects of it without fear of Lawyers That Should Not Be.

      And in fairness we have has relatively few decent Cthulhu games really.

      Cthulhu himself is just an attention whore anyway. It’s all about Yog-Sothoth. Nothing says cool like being a congeries of iridescent globes of hues which man cannot comprehend (basically a bluely-green colour with a hint of purple).

    • Twitchity says:

      I was a nameless, gibbering monstrosity before it was cool. Listened to a lot of Tuxedomoon, too.

  5. Ein0r says:

    It literally screams “Minecraft mod ?”
    A possibly well designed Minecraft mod?
    I really cant see anything else. The resemblance is just too strong at this point.

    The only thing that makes the trailer otherwise interesting is the music.

    • tehsorrow says:

      Fuck you for devaluing the word literally.

      • BooleanBob says:

        Are you telling him to literally fuck himself for devaluing the word literally?

        Are you literally telling him to fuck himself for devaluing the word literally?

        Are you telling him to fuck himself for literally devaluing the word literally?

        Are you.. hm. Nope, out of verbs.

      • Ein0r says:

        Sorry for not having a full understanding of every english word i use. But since you seem to be pretty eloquent you had the chance to correct me instead of shallowly insulting me.

        It looks as if non native english speakers are not welcome here i guess?

        • chackosan says:

          Nah, ‘literally’ is most often misused by native English speakers, and the rest of your post was proper enough for you to be mistaken for one.

        • Skabooga says:

          Don’t worry about Tehsorrow up there, Einor. He’s just a dirty prescriptivist and is of no account.

          Full disclosure: I’m a dirty descriptivist of even less account.

  6. thebigJ_A says:

    I thought it was faux-excitement, a sarcastic beginning to a below the cut evisceration.

    It was real excitement. I’m stunned. Vaguely disappointed.

    This is the sort of unimaginative rehashed silliness RPS rags on. Why isn’t it being snarkily laughed at? And it’s by supposed AAA guys. Big dev guys got their chance to make their big indie idea and it’s…. another minecraft knockoff and another roguelike-like. :/

    I demand more snark and cynicism.

    Oh, and I think it looks shit. Like an April Fools joke. The real announcement will come next week or something.>:p

  7. MrTambourineMan says:

    I have to agree with a few remarks before mine: art style looks awfully uninspired i.e. it looks exactly as a Minecraft mod, lowpoly models are a OK, minecraft styled world is not – it looks too tired of a concept by now… I’d much prefer if they went all the way retro, making something Wolf3D like in the vein of Prelude of the Chambered…

    • Spacewalk says:

      They wouldn’t have to go that far back, Quake would be better to aim for.

      • MrTambourineMan says:

        I agree with you, geometry & texture quality of Q1/Q2 would be perfectly sufficient, and it’d go hand in hand with low poly monster & weapon models.

  8. GallonOfAlan says:

    +1 for the art style dislike – the low-fi, me-too Minecrafty look is beginning to grate on me the same way as all the indie and mobile games that use the same fucking pastel-coloured Flash-looking graphics.

  9. gibb3h says:

    I too tire greatly of the Minecraft art style.

  10. Premium User Badge

    Dingbatwhirr says:

    When I saw the words ‘Lovecraft’ and ‘Thief’ together in a sentence, I must say I was rather excited. When I heard the trailer music however, my excitement meter went off the scale…

    I, for one, believe ALL trailers should be set to the exhilarating yet soothing tones of Mexican/Jewish wedding-fusion music.

    It’d certainly make the 12,000,000 AssFlag trailers better…

    • gunny1993 says:

      For some reason it reminds me of banjo and kazooie, not entirely sure why

  11. szendroib says:

    So much hate. If you are a small developer and you want a randomly generated gameworld you can either go 2d, or the Minecraft style (if you don’t want to spend years and years on the game). I like the addition of the vibrant colors and low poly models, it makes the graphic style like an earlyer zelda game from the N64 times. I don’t have any problems with it, but than again I might be old.

    • Premium User Badge

      basilisk says:

      I wouldn’t mind the cubes so much, but couldn’t they at least make the textures a bit less Minecrafty? Other than that, the game sounds really exciting, but these textures look so tired.

      • LionsPhil says:

        It’s hard, because lot of what Minecraft does, it does for fairly solid technical-budget reasons. Cubes are a great easy 3D space abstraction (although if you’re not doing arbitrary landscaping, jump the rails at this point and go do some other low-fi style, absolutely; see the entire late ’90s). Low-res textures fit better with low-poly geometry, and are easier to draw since the technical constraints crush out your artistic ones (there’s not enough detail to get stuff wrong). And you want to show them big and pixelly with nearest-neighbour sampling, because if you try to bi/trilinearly filter textures like that, you’re just going to make smeary mush.

        Minecraft then absolutely glomps onto the “cuboids” style and makes its mobs out of them, which gives it good thematic consistency and, again, a lot of fake technical limitation that hides artistic talent constraints. Games that put more detailed models into a cube world end up looking odd from the juxtaposition of detail between the two.

        If all you need is arbitrary destruction/random levels, though, you can still round off cubes at points by having variants depending on adjacency. You can make the cubes smaller than half a person, too, since it won’t matter if they’re fiddly to target individual ones. This then means you can get away with further variation elsewhere.

        • Premium User Badge

          basilisk says:

          You know, I understand that it’s easier that way, but I’m also quite sure it’s possible to mess around with textures in Photoshop a bit to achieve something that looks decent and doesn’t scream Minecraft when you look at it. Even if it looked smudgy or whatever, just with at least a bit of its own character to it.

    • Smion says:

      I think it’s less about the fact that it’s randomly generated and more about the ability to destroy the levels (as seen in the trailer). That’s a lot easier to do with the clear boundaries of blocks, from a technical as well as a gameplay standpoint. And having blockbased levels but highly detailed textures is always a jarring experience for me (see high-def mods for Minecraft)

    • deadly.by.design says:

      I like the addition of the vibrant colors and low poly models, it makes the graphic style like an earlyer zelda game from the N64 times.

      Call me odd, but that was actually my least favorite period of gaming history. The early poly era had so many blocky forms and bad textures. I much prefer tight pixels or PS2/Xbox/Unreal Engine 2 era graphics over the previous generation’s style.

      I would say part of why Half-Life was good because it felt much more ‘solid’ than its contemporaries. It’s amazing to look back and see how 3D models and geometry changed in such a short period. In terms of progress, the late 2000s seem like dark ages, by comparison.

  12. povu says:

    But I despised every instance of undead dungeon levels in Thief. :P

    Looks like the combat in this might actually be enjoyable though.

  13. foda500 says:

    “Randomly generated levels provide fresh challenges and opportunities!”

    Nothing like Thief, then. Randomly generated is the antithesis of good level design.

    • LionsPhil says:

      Counterpoint: Spelunky.

      Good level design may always trump random generation, but the latter doesn’t have to be awful.

      • fish99 says:

        Yup, Spelunky with hand made levels would be a short affair about learning the optimum path, finishing the game in 4-5 hrs and probably never playing it again. The random generation gives the game enormous variety.

    • MasterDex says:

      Randomly generated is the antithesis of good level design.

      But if you’re generation algorithm is good then the end result should be good level design. Take Dwarf Fortress for example. Their world generation algorithm is great and it produces fairly good worlds with good climate distribution, etc, etc.

      Random generation doesn’t mean it’ll be all completely random.

  14. goettel says:

    Rift support = sale.

  15. Simbosan says:

    Retro is no longer retro, it is dull and cliched. Procedural = soulless. No interested. I’m not sold on nostalgia gaming at all, it’s an easy cop out for devs.

    • Jim Rossignol says:

      “Procedural = soulless.”

      Nonsense. Procedurality is a tool like any other. Whether it is soulless is down to how it is used, it’s not innate in the approach.

  16. deadly.by.design says:

    No one has made comparisons with yesterday’s impressions of Delver?

    I may not buy either game, but this one looks 10x more interesting to me.

  17. fish99 says:

    I dunno if it’s the silly music, but I got very little Thief vibe from that.

  18. Antsy says:

    Way too much euclidean geometry!

  19. kalidanthepalidan says:

    Looks fun! Both gameplay and graphics. I smile at all the “tired of Minecraft graphics” comments. Just looks like fun, low res stuff developed by two dudes to me. Though I’ve never played Minecraft, which may be why I can’t tire of all the apparent graphic inspired games. MWHAHAHAHAH!!!

  20. ResonanceCascade says:

    The mechanics look great, but I’m worried about the procedural generated part. Thief and Dishonored would have been crappy without meticulously deliberate level design.

  21. twaitsfan says:

    One of the best things about Dark Souls is the hidden and impressively complex lore and story. I wish some games would imitate that as well as it’s phenomenal gameplay.

  22. xsweetcheeksx says:

    I watched a “Lets Drink” (A drunken lets play) of Eldritch and it looked like a lot of fun, but then again, I’m not a graphics snob.

    I’ll be buying it when it’s released. Rest easy indie devs; not everyone expects AAA graphics out of your small dev studios, some of us just want good gameplay.

  23. Sunjammer says:

    I’m a big huge Lovecraft and Dishonored fan but it’s kind of uncanny how brutally turned off i get from that art style. I just don’t know, there isn’t anything intrinsically bad about it, but I have seen so many games that ape that style that I can’t help but feel it’s a copycat maneuver.

    It’s not even that it’s blocky and lo-fi, it’s that it’s literally the same art style, big pixelly textures, world fog and all. I would have loved to see this simplicity executed with some actual flair, at the very least with some creative post processing, or ANYTHING really.

    I still gave it my vote on Greenlight. But man… Enough with the Minecraft aping already.

  24. Wedge says:

    Is it just me or is every other new game “inspired” by Thief and/or Dishonored and/or Dark Souls (except ironically, Thief 4 itself)?

  25. Mad Hamish says:

    Oh how sad these comments make me.

  26. Premium User Badge

    tumbleworld says:

    I don’t mind the Minecraft art style that much — seems an odd choice for an FPS, but hell, what do I know? — but given how much they’re waving their inspirations all over the place, it seems _really_ odd they’re not acknowledging MC (or, hell, Infiniminer if they prefer).

    It makes it feel skeezy, like they think that if they don’t mention it, we’re all WAY too stupid to notice.

    Really puts me off.

  27. ziusudra says:

    I clearly see the Thief influences.

  28. Premium User Badge

    JamesTheNumberless says:

    Aw, my previous comment was deleted. I guess RPS don’t like the unspeakable vault of doom cartoon :(