Cthulhu saves the world is another game from the same company that brought us the poorly scored “Breath of Death VII” and is also available only in digital download form. Thankfully despite my initial fears this game would be even worse I was rather pleasantly surprised and Cthulhu Saves the World is a better game in many respects.
The theme of the game revolves around the reawakening of Cthulhu who for those not in the know is a character from the literary works of H. P. Lovecraft. Cthulhu is basically a god type being that is a massive force of destruction and leave insanity in his wake. Insanity, the insignificance of mankind and the “hidden horrors” of the universe is a reoccurring theme in Lovecraft’s works. The main premise of CSTW is that you play as reawakened Cthulhu who has suddenly lost his powers and must become a great hero to recover them. Yea, straight off you can tell this is another comical game not to be taken seriously.
Initially I thought this would be an issue as I generally prefer serious tones to my RPG’s rather then flat out parodies and comical adventures. Thankfully I found myself enjoying this game far more then Breath of Death though some of that may of had to do with my love and familiarity of the Lovecraft mythos.
Visually this game is very much like its predecessor BOD: VII though the overworld and general feel is a lot more “generic original” if that makes any sense. It just feels a lot less like a Dragon Warrior clone/rip off and more of its own thing while still using a fairly generic SNES era graphical look. It also plays very much like your traditional Japanese 16-bit era RPG complete with overworld, turn based battles and even a dragon later on that acts as an airship.
As I mentioned previously and like BOD VII this games does not take itself very seriously and it full of humor though I never found this very grating like I usually would with these kind of games.
The game does play very much like an improved BOD. You can still save anywhere and every area still has a set number of random battles that once reatched you don’t have to contend with them anymore. Leveling up is also very much the same way with getting a choice of two powers or stat bumps to choose from upon attaining a new level.
So lets talk about what’s new with CSTW. First off the visuals seems a little more polished and refined as well as dungeons being a little more complex. There’s just a lot more overall polish then the developers earlier game. One example is tombstones and bookshelves. Its a very minor detail but every tombstone in CSTW has its own message on it while on BOD many tombstones reused the same messages. Bookshelves as well have different books on them all. There is also a new ability that Cthulhu can do that causes insanity in enemies. To be honest I didn’t really use it and I’m not completely sure what it did but I really liked how it caused the enemy sprites to change when they became insane.
There are also a number of small side quests or side dungeons in most areas where you can battle an optional boss and win a powerful weapon for various party members.
Speaking of party members CSTW allows you to chose four active members from a roster of characters you pick up as the quest advances. I thought this was a pretty nice feature overall and helped expand the main cast outside of just the four characters one would have in the party. The main character of course is Cthulhu but you also end up recruiting a fan girl mage a sentient sword and alien cat and even a dragon eventually.
combat is traditional turn based and fought from the first person perspective with options such as fight, item and magic. The difficulty is pretty fair throughout especially since you have the ability to save anywhere though I did find some enemies near the end of the game annoyingly difficult.
Like BOD before it I was able to beat this game in just a few sittings and it clocked in at maybe 5 to seven hours, perhaps less. I have to say though that I actually enjoyed myself through the bulk of the game. The game is full of Lovecraft references that someone like myself could appreciate and I found myself looking forward to seeing what would be referenced next even though it was all done in a tongue and cheek manor. Sure, I personally would of preferred a serious game but my preference doesn’t make this a bad game at all.
The game is very linier as you travel to once Lovecraft reference to the next eventually “ending with a sort of fake out ending where Cthulhu finally becomes a true hero, gets his powers back and promptly conquers the planet driving everyone insane.
This though As I mentioned is a fake out, and alternate ending if you will, with the true course of the game being that Cthulhu decides to remain a hero and the party ventures on to the newly risen from the sea city of R’lyeh. The game ends with a final battle against Azathoth, and elder god that disagrees with Cthulhus recent change of heart.
After this last boss fight the game is won and Cthulhu goes into space with his alien cat pal. the end.
So do I think this is a great must play game?…..no, but it is a significant step up after Breath of Death VII. The game is much more polished and enjoyable but it still just comes off as to generic and low budget even with its great Cthulhu theme. I’ll admit I may be biased since I do greatly prefer more serious games to overtly silly ones.
Platform: Windows (Steam)
Game World – The game world of CSTW is developed only so far as it’s a parody of the works of H. P. Lovecraft. If your not into or do not know of Lovecraft’s works it just comes off as rather generic. Some of the areas are interesting such as the town overtaken by undead. Other then that it doesn’t do anything terribly interesting as far as world building. I really want to give it a higher grade because I DO like the Lovecraft themes but honestly it just doesn’t deserve it. Grade: C-
Controls – Full controller support that works. Not sure what else to say about it. The game doesn’t really do anything to test the limits of game control. Grade: C
Game play – The length of this game is short compared to many non-indie RPG’s of the 16 bit era it try’s to emulate but I think they did a much better job here then in Breath of Death and the side quest, although short and limited helped pad the game out a little. Other then the improved play time most of what I said about BOD applies here. “The battle system is traditional and turn based but this also where CSTW introduces some really interesting concepts such as the health restore and partial MP restore after every battle. Most of all the ability to get a A or B choice when you level adds a great deal to this style of RPG. Its small when compared to the leveling in other more complex RPG’s but in a traditional JRPG it really adds a lot. The difficulty curve takes a pretty steep climb in a few parts of the game but its completely mitigated by the save anywhere system.” Grade: C+
Plot – The plot of the game is ridicules but then, its meant to be that way. As much as I initially hated the plot that basically boils down to “do heroic deeds at Cthulhu in order for him to regain his powers” the game kind of grew on me and the humor was actually pretty good and not grating. Grade: C
Graphics/Sound – The graphic and sounds thankfully feel a little more original then Breath of Deaths Dragon Warrior inspired visuals. The enemy sprites are pretty well done overall and there’s a few interesting 16-bit Interpretations of Lovecraftian creatures. There were also a number of competently done cut screens that help elevate the visual storytelling above BOD. Music was okay with no tune standing out but nothing being overtly horrible. It was also nice that every monster had a separate “insane” sprite. Grade: C
Protagonist (Main Character) – The star of the game is of course Cthulhu who of course is absolutely nothing like he is in the stories. Despite this I found him to be fun to play as well as the other characters that join your party. I wouldn’t call the cast of characters ground braking and there’s really nothing in the way of character development with the small exception of Cthulhu but they are a interesting group. characters vary from Umi the Cthulhu fan girl to Sharpe the sentient sword and Paws the alien cat. There’s even a few relatively normal characters thrown in like the old man healer and the girl wizard. Grade: C
NPC’s, Antagonist (main villain) – The main villains in the game aren’t really built up to and are just kind of there. On the other hand like many references in this game if your familiar with the Lovecaft mythos you will know a little of the backstory to a number of the main boss enemies. That said I guess reading a novel shouldn’t be required to build a backstory to your villain characters. Grade: D+
Weapons/armor/items/magic – Weapons are and armor are pretty generic with each character being able to use one type of weapon/armor. Generally newer more powerful weapons can be found in the next town though side dungeons do give access to a few powerful weapons that may not be available in town shops. Grade: D+
Enemies – Enemies range from the ridicules such as actual space invaders in the alien ship dungeon to more serious monsters such as zombies and a few Lovecraftian horrors pulled from the stories. There are a few palette swapped enemies but nothing overused. Grade: C+
Stability –Grade: N/A
Overall – Overall Cthulhu Saves the World is worth a few hours it takes to beat it. This goes double if your familiar with the writings of H. P. Lovecraft just so long as you taking nothing in it seriously as it takes wild comical liberties with the source material. It is certainly an upgrade from Breath of Death both gameplay wise and technically though I wouldn’t say its a huge leap it does make a difference in enjoyment. I honestly thought I would hate slogging through this game but in the end I have to say I kind of enjoyed it. Grade: C