"95% of the game is characters talking to each other and solving problems", says Call Of Cthulhu pressman Ben Barrett in this stream of its first hour. I didn't expect to kick off Monday by wishing the real world was more like a Lovecraftian horror detective RPG, but here we are.
This isn't our first glimpse of the detective 'em up based on the Chaosium tabletop RPG, but an hour of footage and commentary should shed new light on "the tragic death of the Hawkins family in their imposing mansion on the isolated Darkwater Island". I find trying to watch fictional people talk at the same time as listening to actual people has a horror of its own. It's appropriately discordant, in a way.
Edward Pierce's cliched grisliness does get undermined by the chirpy commentary, as does the terror of Mr fish-for-arms, but there are new details lurking in the natter. If you find interesting objects when you're poking around you can quiz NPCs about them, although apparently there isn't much of an emphasis on interrogation.
We also get to see how upgrading your stats affects what you can get up to. The person playing the demo chooses to pump points into being a strongman, which seems an odd choice for dealing with incalculably powerful entities but does allow him to move an entrance-blocking floor grate.
Alice B (the awkward middle Alice) played what you just saw at Gamescom. She pitted this and The Sinking City against each other in a Lovercraft-off, and wondered if Cthulhu might be a little too eager to slap its tentacles in your face:
"By the end of the Call of Cthulhu hands on we’d gone full R’lyeh wgah’nagi fhtagn. The titular cult and a lad who looked like he was trying to swallow an octopus were both very much in play. It does what it says on the tin, I suppose. After we’ve played both to completion, it might turn out that Call of Cthulhu is just an Audi salesman in a cheap suit: has flashy licensed goods on show, but when you get up close it’s lacking heart."
Old Adam had similar thoughts about the build he saw two years ago, though maybe the full game will stray further from Lovecraft's well-trodden path.
Call Of Cthulhu will be out on October 30 via Steam, priced at £40/€45/$45.