Lights out, everybody.
On Miskatonic Mondays, we celebrate the "weird" fiction of HP Lovecraft and the genre of otherworldly horror it spawned.
Dark gods and mystical powers. Helpless citizens in need of a hero. An unlikely group of adventurers drawn together to vanquish those attempting to do the world harm. Zeboyd Games' Cthulhu Saves the World, originally an Xbox Live Indie title and now available on PC, has all the elements of a classic role-playing adventure. It's a heartfelt homage to the early days of Final Fantasy design, a pixelated 2D journey through labyrinthine dungeons filled with treasure chests, random encounters and bosses. It's also a satire, ridiculing genre clichés while simultaneously paying them the utmost respect. And, for some reason, it stars Cthulhu.
Full of laugh-out-loud moments, great old-school RPG gameplay, and plenty of set pieces and characters straight out of Lovecraftian mythos, Cthulhu Saves the World ended up scratching a very specific itch that I never realized I had. And now it's about to scratch it again, as Zeboyd Games has announced that the game will be ported to iPhone, iPad, Android and Mac in "early 2012."
"It still boggles my mind that a random thought of mine while I was waiting for an appointment one day – hey, wouldn't it be funny if Cthulhu was a hero in a Japanese-style RPG – is now an actual game that people are playing and enjoying," says a recent post on the Zeboyd Games blog. "With … the game coming to new platforms later this year, I hope even more people will be able to experience the weird adventures of Cthulhu, his own personal fangirl Umi, and the rest."
The lord of insanity, Cthulhu was all set to plunge the world into insanity and destruction when his powers were sealed by a mysterious sorcerer. The only way for him to break the curse is to become a true hero. Save the world to destroy it in an epic parody RPG journey of redemption, romance, and insanity!
It's an odd concept, but handled brilliantly by Zeboyd thanks to clever dialogue and tongue-in-cheek humor. Cthulhu routinely expresses dissatisfaction for his predicament of having to act like a good guy. He insults party members inexplicably drawn to him, scoffs at the notion of questing across the world to gather mystical crystals, greets dungeon bosses as old friends, even breaks the fourth wall and complains to the tale's narrator about the amount of good deeds he has to do to regain his power. Though Cthulhu may function as a force for good, caricaturized as a cute cartoon carrying a sword, remnants of his old personality remain. Upon entering a town full of zombies, instead of being scared off, Cthulhu feels empathy. "I just like insane things," he comments. At one point a new party member joins up. "Yay, a new friend!" says Umi, the hopelessly innocent love interest. "Yes, more power!" says Cthulhu.
Poking fun at H.P. Lovecraft's Cthulhu mythos in the framework of a classical Japanese role-playing game may not be the most obvious choice when dreaming up a game. Yet that's exactly what Zeboyd Games chose to make, and with Cthulhu Saves the World, pulled it off with great success. It's a surprisingly entertaining adventure, deeply respectful of its source material, and not afraid to make jokes and game design adjustments where appropriate. Though the story is always good for a laugh, the gameplay drags toward the end, and if you missed out on old Final Fantasy games or aren't familiar with Lovecraft some of the humor won't make as much sense. Still, for its sliver of a target audience – traditional Japanese role-playing fans that happen to love H.P. Lovecraft's stories – Cthulhu Saves the World is a perfect fit. For the rest, it's still easy to enjoy, even if you don't get all the jokes.
If you're a fan of RPG's, funny games, or Lovecraftian horrors, you'll want to keep an eye out for this one to hit your favorite platform soon - or you can already buy it on your favorite platform if that happens to be PC or Xbox 360!
Watch the trailer
Pick it up via Zeboyd Games