I think that the Cthulhu Mythos is a very interesting setting, but it doesn’t get used to the fullest extent. For example, Eldritch.
OK, maybe I played my hand a bit strong there, but bear with me. Eldritch is a Rogue-lite game by Minor Key Games. As a big fan of Cthulhu Mythos, and Rogue-lite games in general, I picked it up on a whim. The graphics are simple low poly, which I believe actually looks really damn good.
Onto the game itself. The main character is, just like 90% of all Cthulhu fiction, an investigator who happens to stumble upon knowledge not meant for man. You go to a library, read a book, then a few things happen and you fight an elder god. Most of the story is told in these little books scattered all over the place, which gives off a good atmosphere. The simple visual style is also really appealing. The first thing that popped into my head was that it looked like Minecraft, in that the terrain is block based, but everything seemed to flow together better than Minecraft. My only gripe is that sometimes the wall textures can be a bit same-y.
The sounds are also really well done. Glurgling fishmen and chanting acolytes help round out the atmosphere. The weapon and item sounds are also pretty well done, I especially like the sound when you punch things, from scenery to the aforementioned fishmen. Although, like the textures, there is little variation for the sounds, but it isn’t very noticeable.
The gameplay is where this game kind of hits its first stumbling block. Roguelite games like this usually have two types of mechanics: combat and exploration. For example, in Spelunky, stuff like Ropes, Capes and Spring Shoes are primarily exploration based, while Shotguns, Spike Shoes and health items are combat based. For a roguelite game to be good, it must properly mix these two elements.
Usually, there is a reason to continue exploring. In games like Nethack, it’s the hunger meter, while in other it is the scarcity of healing items. Eldritch seems like it wants to be the latter, with few healing items and no way to naturally regenerate. But after the first few minutes, you find that the game practically throws healing hams at you like this is Final Fight or something. There was one point where I had discovered around 20 hams, in a game where your max health is between 3-6. And of course, you can get a tinning kit that allows you to, for the price of a few resources, can give you food from most of the monsters.
This is my main problem with the game, it is way too easy to become god-like (or perhaps I should say elder god-like, hyuk hyuk). There is an ability that allows you to create blocks for one unit of currency each, while a piece of equipment allows your gun to shoot through walls. As the money and bullets are awfully abundant, it felt like I was going through the levels with no-clip. I never had to worry about resources as monsters would respawn at a rather quick pace.
There was one point in the game where I had pretty much gotten the best equipment. A tinning kit for food, springy shoes for jumping, a destruction amulet to let me shoot the walls, and the materialization power. I had basically beaten the game right there. I may switch the tinning kit around, but that’s it.
And finally, you can “bank” the currency for between deaths. I’m not sure how much of an impact this can make, but my biggest pet peeve is rougelikes that have a feature like this. Most people wont care, but I feel like it cheapens the whole thing.
So far, I don’t think it would be worth a buy at full price, but if they were to fix a few of the balance issues, I would recommend it whole-heartedly. It has awesome graphics and atmosphere, but is held back by the easily broken balance.