Call of Cthulhu: The Wasted Land - New Game of the Day #53
- Red Wasp Design
What? Turn-based strategy set in World War 1. Featuring that lovable, tentacled harbinger of madness Cthulhu.
Where? iOS, PC
H.P. Lovecraft's Octopus faced thing of creep is a bit brilliant. The ultimate narrative chameleon, his presence can be applied to any setting and instantly make it appear fresh and interesting. Heck, it can be applied to any thing to make it appear fresh and interesting, this fact alone is why the 'Call of Cthulhu' pen and paper RPG has been such a success. What was nerdy dragons and bards and goblins becomes underground contemporary cess pits with an edge of insanity. Very similar rules, very different experiences.
Call of Cthulhu: The Wasted Land is Red Wasp's attempt to apply the fevered pace and capricious risk of insanity to a turn-based-strategy-role-playing-game. Set to a World War 1 backdrop you control a group of Cthulhu researchers and British grunts as they try and eradicate a sect of the German army called the 'Cult of the Awakened'.
The game's biggest boon is the Action Point system at its heart. Unlike traditional turn-based-strategy games that limit movement or enforce a rigid structure, Call of Cthulhu: The Wasted Land lets you spend Action Points how you want. Splash them on several pistol shots? Sure. Spend some to improve the accuracy of a bullet? Go ahead. Friend in need of a heal? That'll be some AP and a med-kit sonny.
The action point system runs interestingly deep too. Leave enough AP on a character and they will automatically shoot/twat an enemy that wanders into their path, letting you set up cunning bottlenecks and remain one step ahead. Of course just cashing them all to run away from the brain sucking horror that's just appeared is also a viable strategy.
Secondary to this is the sanity system. Encounter a creature that is not of this world and your brave soldiers will incur a loss of mental cognition. Lose too much and they will go mental; a short berserk period followed by death. However, Sanity also powers the dark magicks of Cthulhu's world. 'Tis a fine line these brave investigators walk.
What these systems provide is something wonderfully true to the classic Call of Cthulhu tabletop game. But more importantly they provide a turn-based-strategy that feels remarkably reactive and absolutely thrilling, letting characters pull off cinematic stunts or forcing you to run, terrified and pleading to the mad God that your 30% bullet will hit this time.
We'll have a full review up soon but those with an iOS device should not hesitate to download Call of Cthulhu: The Wasted Land, it's a bit brilliant. PC gamers, on the other appendage, should note May 5th in their journals next to the pentagrams and illegible scribbles.
Developer Legacy: Red Wasp Design are a small independent studio based in Bristol in the United Kingdom. Formed by a group of designers who just want to make the games they would want to play, Red Wasp's initial 'thing' was a Cthulhu Christmas Calender. The Wasted Land is their first proper game. It's safe to assume they might like Cthulhu. Or are at least a teensy bit enslaved.
What They Say: “'Call of Cthulhu: The Wasted Land’ is a turn-based strategy/role-playing video game based on the award winning Call of Cthulhu RPG. The game is set in the midst ofWorld War One and pits a team of investigators and soldiers against an ancient evil, one older than humanity itself, who is using the carnage of the great war to build an undead army deep beneath the battlefields of Europe.” - Official blurb.
What We Say: Turn based strategy games rarely manage to be both mentally stimulating and cinematically exciting, but Call of Cthulhu: The Wasted Land manages it through some seriously clever design. Ai ai indeed.
Can't wait? Play This: The PC had a trove of games like this way back when(tm). Games like Fallout Tactics for starters, and classic Black Isle/Bioware RPG's such as Baldur's Gate and Planescape Torment were based on rival pen and paper RPG systems. But if it's the insanity side you're after, best off with something like the Gamecube's Eternal Darkness, or Amnesia: The Dark Decent.
Words by James Bowden (Twitter: @Dalagonash)
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