Here’s a weird one to start your weekend on. I’ve been following The Miskatonic since its earliest concept drafts as a platform shooter. After a successful Kickstarter, it’s somehow mutated into a grim, grimy and all-too-cheerful visual novel about the students and staff of Arkham’s infamously evil Miskatonic University, and their place in a strange post-Cthulhu world. It’s also out right now.
The Miskatonic runs with the idea that, through a mixture of human ingenuity and dumb luck, the world survived Cthulhu’s awakening. Now the elder sea-god remains in a perpetual state of having his big squiddy head repeatedly exploded, so people are free to poke around and research all this horrible otherworldly stuff. England may now be swarming with boggle-eyed cannibals (Brexit happened early in this universe, presumably), but things are mostly okay now, in a very British ‘Well, it could be worse’ kinda way.
Protagonist Charlotte LeStrange is a young witch with hypnotic powers and spooky magic eyes – comparatively normal when you stack her up against the multitude of tentacled, many-limbed or otherwise alien things living in the University complex. The game follows her on a relatively short but dense adventure (a friend says it’s around 3-4 hours long) that unsurprisingly goes very badly wrong. After all, this is a world teetering on the brink of a dozen simultaneous apocalypses.
While there is some interaction in The Miskatonic beyond just clicking through dialogue, this is still very much a visual novel, so don’t go expecting complex inventory puzzles. Also, having watched development on this one (although I haven’t had a chance to play it myself) I’m fairly certain that there’s at least some weird eldritch nekkidness. Nothing that should raise an eyebrow compared to some of the bizarre things and concepts on show here, but you’ve been given fair warning if nipples are where you draw the line.
The Miskatonic is out now on Steam for £4.79/€5/$6.