Saturday, May 11

Review: Lovecraft's Untold Stories [Nintendo Switch eShop]

I’ll give indie games credit, they can come out of left field and surprise you at times. Mixing elements of a classic adventure, a shooter, and throwing in a load of creepy and weird elements, Lovecraft’s Untold Stories is absolutely unique. Where it gets dicey is that in order to get the most out of the experience you’re going to have to be willing to overlook some annoying quirks and faults as well, but if you’re game it can be a bit of somewhat unpredictable fun.

Your first introduction to the gameplay is as a detective, who has a middle-of-the-road usability that’s a wise start. You’ll initially be equipped with your gun and a nasty swing, complimented by a dodge roll that will serve you pretty well. Initially moving through a mansion room by room, as you progress you’ll visit some difference locales, each with their own assorted horrors to fight. Combat tends to be quick as you blast away with your weapon or maybe throw a molotov cocktail at a foe to finish them off. If you’re poisoned or otherwise affected you’ll then use medic kits or the appropriate remedy to remove status effects.

Explore, search, fight, and survive is pretty much the focus, though it gets a bit more weird when you begin being given choices on how to investigate or proceed in certain circumstances. If you make the wrong choice you’ll begin to slowly lose your sanity, which will eventually cause you to outright kill yourself, but if you’re able to make smart choices you may gain some sanity back. It’s an unusual dynamic, but I suppose it adds to the tension and pressure.

Where the game is absolutely frustrating is how poorly everything is explained. Your goal is to collect information on the Ancient Gods you’ll eventually face but how the nuances of this work aren’t terribly clear. The interface and controls are also a bit unusual and take some getting used to, with inventory management and trying to make used of your gear being far more clumsy than it should ideally be as well. It’s workable but just on a general level everything feels unrefined and odd, keeping the total package from feeling as good as it could.

If you’re willing to be patient, do some stumbling, and deal with the funky interface and controls Lovecraft’s Untold Stories is at least a very different experience on Switch. It really doesn’t do a great job with its first impression but once you get acclimated there can be some fun to be had. I wish there were more clarity in what you’re doing and why but if you’re simply looking to take on weird monsters and your characters’ slow descent into madness it’s thoroughly different.

Score: 7

  • Mixes elements of a few different styles into one experience
  • The variety in monsters makes things unexpected and can build tension as you struggle to retain your sanity
  • With a variety of characters who play differently there are opportunities to enjoy the game a few different ways to find a style you prefer

  • It’s a lot to take in initially and there’s a lot that simply isn’t explained, making early play a bit frustrating
  • The controls and interface aren’t very well designed or implemented, making the experience a bit clunky
  • The mix of genres may be a turn off, depending on your tastes