Maybe it's because we've done this dance a hundred times already, or maybe because it's based directly on the pen-and-paper RPG that brought Lovecraft's Cthulhu mythos into the gaming sphere, but the E3 trailer for Cyanide's Call of Cthulhu feels very familiar. Dire prophecies, flickering torchlight, lots of sickly blue-greens in its palette are all present and correct, and while on some level I feel I've seen it all before now, it's almost a little comforting. Take a peek at it for yourself within.
While there have been plenty of other games to bear the Call of Cthulhu name in the past, this one bills itself as the official game adaptation of Chaosium's famous tabletop RPG, or at least a combination of its most readily recognisable elements. A cult in a seaside town, grisly murders, a fragile WW1 veteran protagonist who prefers evasion and investigation to combat and the ever-looming threat of losing your marbles from over-exposure to cosmic weirdness.
I do notice that rather than shoot for photorealism, Cyanide have settled for a slightly stylised aesthetic. While not quite as stark as Dishonored's world of grimly angular faces, there feels like a little bit of exaggeration applied to everything, from the lighting to the characters, although Beardly McProtagonist could have fallen out of almost any action game of the past decade. Hopefully this also means that there won't be quite so much pixel-hunting required when examining scenes for clues.
While I've not had a chance to see the game in action, Adam's preview last year echoes many of my concerns, going as far as saying that it 'felt a bit Scooby Doo'. I guess that after years of exposure, fishmen, their alien ocean-gods and the cults that worship them seem positively quaint. Perhaps a Bloodborne-inspired genre fakeout would work better? Still, this is mostly speculation, and I'm looking forward to giving the game a spin when it arrives later this year.
Call of Cthulhu also has some direct competition on the horizon, with Frogwares' The Sinking City following the same well-worn path with its blend of otherworldly weirdness, tentacled things, detective-work and RPG elements. Considering how familiar Call of Cthulhu is looking, perhaps not having the official license isn't quite the weakness it might otherwise be.
Cyanide haven't yet got a release date worked out for Call of Cthulhu (perhaps it's too strange and unknowable for mortal minds to bear), but you can sign up for a spooky newsletter over on their official site here to get word of when the stars are due to align.