As I have said previously (in my Eldritch review), Cthulhu mythos is a wonderful well of inspiration and design, if used properly.
Just like roguelikes as a genre, Cthulhu as a genre is incredibly easy to mishandle. Slapping tentacles on a monster does not make it “Cthulhu inspired,” just like having the lights flicker does not make a game “horror.”
Being part of the Cthulhu mythos is an incredibly subtle art, dealing with the audience’s perception of events more than the actual events. The best parts of Cthulhu stories are when it plays tricks with your mind, does things that are fundamentally impossible and unknowable.
I finally have a game I can point to and say: “THIS! This is how you do it! Look at everything this game does and do this!”
Every single aspect of the game, from the second you start to the very end, has the player at the behest of a game’s increasingly insane whims.
In short, you are up high and, gravity being what it is, you start going down and must avoid obstacles. Look around, move with WASD and try to land on the goal. This however, is where the similarities stop and the interesting bits begin.
Cthulhu, as I pointed out, is a genre about loss of control, and a falling game like this is perfect to make the player feel a loss of control.
Within Euclidean you are falling, but in this… water? jelly? maple syrup?… which makes everything nice and slow.
The obstacles take the form of giant floating debris and these extremely weird (in a good way) monsters that roam around. Your only skill, aside from falling, is to “phase” through these roving monsters.
The movement is slow, sluggish and slippery, and all of that is an extremely good thing.
Monsters come from all sides, below you, above you, to the sides, even appearing inside of you. If you get close to some debris, these gross tentacle/barnacles grow out of the rock with a screeching sound. As a monster creeps next to you, your in-game heart rate races to give you a last minute warning to frantically phase past it.
This game is a joy to play. The levels are the same between lives, which gives the game liberty to throw some really surprising obstacles.
The monsters themselves are giant blobs of shapes and cubs that somehow link together into a hedron-like mass with odd movements and patterns.
One of the greatest things is that you feel so small and insignificant, mainly because nothing (aside from the barntacles) reacts to your presence. Nothing will chase you, or turn around, or shoot lasers at you. Everything is just… automatic. Like an ant running from a human, the human often does not even acknowledge the ant’s existence, but is no less deadly because of that.
In the end, Euclidean is the Cthulhu game I’ve always dreamed of playing.
If you ever want to feel truly, honestly, overwhelmed by something bigger and more complex than you could imagine, try this game. And if you are thinking of attempting to make even a part of your game Cthulhu inspired, look at how these guys do it compared to Eldritch.
Developer: Alpha Wave Entertainment
Publisher: AAD Productions