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Lovecraft’s Untold Stories Early Access Review

Intro

You kick open the door to another room, not knowing where it leads. You’ve already seen enough blood and strange sigils carved into the walls to guess it’s likely not somewhere good. As you step into the moonlit room, shotgun at the ready, you note the long crimson curtains lining the walls. Something suddenly catches your eye. In the center of the room a figure kneels in a ring of candles. Moonlight illuminates the unrecognizable characters smeared in blood on the floor. As you inch forward, fear grips you, your pulse races. You hear the figure mumbling to itself. Could it be praying?

Suddenly the figure stops moving, lowers the hood of its tattered red robes, and raises its head towards you. The cultist's face is dark and sunken, it’s expression far off and distracted. The cultist begins to speak. “He’s coming. We, his humble servants prepare. His arrival will...be...gloriousss.” With lightning speed the figure charges you, swinging a gnarled femur bone wildly. Your surprise allows the assailant to get close, too close. You feel the breeze as the makeshift club barely misses your head. You’re reminded of the wood and cold steel gripped tight in your hands. You load a round with a definite “Chic-CHIK.” You empty the shotgun into the cultist and he is blown off his feet, backwards. The cultist lays in a heap on the floor. He does not get up. You breathe a sigh of relief and move to a nearby desk to look for clues. You move to pull out a drawer but pause. That noise, is it, mumbling? You look up, scanning the rooms long curtains as they start to shift. One by one, the horde of cultists each step into the moonlight. You reload the shotgun as the first cultist begins to charge and think out loud “Great, friends.”

An amalgam of horror, madness, mystery, and the unknown. This is what modern H.P. Lovecraft feels like to me. All themes developer LLC Blini Games hopes to evoke in their new game, Lovecraft’s Untold Stories (currently early access). Choose from five unique characters as you fight your way through 12 randomly generated levels. Increase your strength while avoiding insanity in this fast-paced action RPG.

An Eldritch Endeavor

Lovecraft’s Untold Stories is a top-down action RPG, with some roguelike flare. Start by picking one of five characters, each with their own unique story and moveset. Then dive in as you smash, shoot, and explode your way through a series of semi-random, low-poly environments. Along the way, you’ll find no shortage of weapons and consumables to aid you in your fight. These pickups vary from traditional action fare like body armor and medkits, to more Lovecraftian items like stat-boosting (and only occasionally cursed) charms and relics. The other thing you won’t find a shortage of in Lovecraft’s Untold Stories are enemies eager to cut you down. The variety of Cthulhu-esque baddies in this game really are impressive. Featuring everything from gun-toting cultists to deformed, flying nightmares. Thankfully, human and horror alike are equally vulnerable to molotovs and machine guns. While early on it’s easy to get overwhelmed by charging enemies as you enter a new room, in no time you’ll be clearing rooms in record time.

A Lovecraftian Loveletter

As mentioned earlier, LLC Blini Games have favored a more low-poly art style for Lovecraft’s Untold Stories. This gives the game a pseudo-retro feel, reminding me of SNES-era games like Maximum Carnage. That said, this is clearly no simple 32-bit action game. Foreground effects and tons of action onscreen give the game a nice sense of chaos and action. On top of this, gameplay is fluid and simple, with players only needing to manage a couple of buttons at a time. In times of rest, players can pause to adjust their inventory and loadout. This is nice as you can try out different weapons and armor to fit your playstyle or adjust hotbar items like health packs and grenades for easy access. 

Thematically, I think this is one of the better uses of the Lovecraft mythos. The levels hum with an understanding of what makes Lovecraftian lore interesting, while avoiding being too heavy-handed. The individual stories and discrete locations do a good job of carving out a portion of Lovecraft lore, while never feeling too “let’s see how much Lovecraft we can fit in this level!” The end result is a nice variety of levels and rooms. Some creepy, some calm, some chaotic.

7

The Verdict: 7

As of this writing, Lovecraft’s Untold Stories is in its “beta 0.75” stage. This is to say the game is pre-final beta and pre-full release. As such, there are some rough edges that beg to be ground out. Impressively, the devs seem to be dealing with issues nearly as fast as they crop up. Already I’ve seen the game team address numerous bugs, add some great new content, and add some much-needed quality of life features (mouse controls are a GODSEND, thank you LLC Blini). Still, I’m curious if and how a few elements will be refined. For example, I currently think the stamina system (used for things like rolling and melee attacks) is a little too unforgiving. Also, I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had to hurl a grenade at a crowd of enemies, only to throw it at my feet and explode. But overall I think this is a game that’s well on track and promises some great gameplay and replayability. Lovecraft’s Untold Stories is filled with enough fun and content to warrant picking it up now while it’s in early access so you can track its progress. Otherwise, I certainly think this will be one to grab once it’s fully released in the hopefully not-too-distant future. 

Matthew Watson
Written by
September 12, 2018
Published in Action

Matt finds himself thinking about gaming most of the day. If he's not glued to his PC searching for the next great indie game; he's likely explaining the rules to some complex board game he's talked his friends into. Matt graduated from Marymount University in Arlington,VA with a Bachelor of Arts. Originally from Maryland, Matt currently lives in Austin,TX where he provides customer support for Electronic Arts. As such, Matt will not be reviewing any EA games we happen to get our hands on.

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