Now, at my end, I can fully see. My last case opened in me a fear, a real fear. A fear of myself; of what I am, and what I've always been. All that I was is now lost. Hope? Purpose? Pleasure? All meaningless. I now walk in the shadows between worlds, and it is there that I have finally glimpsed what lives in the dark corners of the earth...
Call of Cthulhu: Dark Corners of the Earth is a horror/adventure video game based on the Cthulhu Mythos, specifically The Shadow Over Innsmouth and is the last title developed by the now-defunct Headfirst Productions. It was published by Bethesda Softworks in the year 2005.Players take on the role of Jack Walters, a police detective with a reputation for seemingly impossible insight into difficult cases, in 1920's Massachusetts. At the start of the game, the Boston Police Department has arrived at an old manor at the edge of the city to investigate alleged crimes of a resident cult called the Brotherhood of Yith. The cult is armed with rifles, and refuses to allow the police into the manor. They demand that Jack Walters be sent in to speak with them.Walters arrives, but a shootout occurs anyway. Taking cover, Walters accidentally locks himself inside the manor. What he finds inside is quite disturbing. Skip ahead a few years, and Walters has lost his memory of what exactly happened inside, and the events afterwards. It turns out that whatever happened inside the manor gave him a Split Personality, and his new identity had taken over his body for half a decade. Obviously he's no longer fit to be in the police force, and is now trying to make a living as a private investigator, actually investigating what he did himself during his period of amnesia between cases for other clients.His latest job, after business has slumped somewhat, is to find a missing grocer in the town of Innsmouth.It turns out that the missing person case and his amnesia are connected, and he ends up on a batshit-insane quest to both rescue the grocer from creepy cultists and discover what happened to him at the Brotherhood of Yith.Except for a few seconds at the start of the game, the entire experience takes place in first-person, from the viewpoint of Jack Walters. There is also no HUD at all, nor are any icons or prompts overlaid onto the Main Window at any time. Walters's health, and mental state, can be measured by the blurriness of his vision, whether or not he is limping, the shallowness of his breathing, the blood on his eyelids, and so forth. Objects that can be interacted with (usually) glow softly.Though it is extremely buggy, perhaps because of its six years in development and the studio going bankrupt shortly after release, Dark Corners of the Earth is considered by some critics to be an excellent, if not the best, Survival Horror video game at the time of release.Not to be confused with the tabletop game Call of Cthulhu. Now available for 9.99 USD on Steam, so no need to Keep Circulating the Tapes.
Indeed, at times you can shoot the Mooks themselves and if they do not see Jack they will ignore that they have been shot and carry on with whatever they were doing.
Attack of the Monster Appendage: During your first trip in the sewers you can get a quick glance of the Shoggoth's tentacles coming out of a well. You'll get to see him more closely later in the Refinery level.
Awesome yet Practical: The Yithian Lightning Gun has unlimited range, the highest damage of any gun in the game, unlimited ammo, and the ability to charge. The only downside is lack of iron sights and relatively slow firing rate, which can be easily compensated for.
Badass Crew: Literally, the sailors of the Coast Guard Cutter Urania. They are all well-armed and when Deep Ones attack the ship the sailors may end up killing more of them than you do. They get overwhelmed eventually, and then all die when the ship sinks.
Badass: Jack acts more like the Doom marine than a private investigator. He even gets a BFG near the end.
Body Horror: Implied but not actually shown. Well, aside from increasingly deformed versions of Innsmouth's populace.
Book Ends: The final cutscene is the same as the first. Only with the visions of the dead little girl added and Jack dying while doctors try to save him.
But Thou Must: Early on in the game, there is no way to advance the plot except by unleashing a Deep One that murders a little girl, the guilt of which plagues the protagonist throughout the rest of the story.
Conspiracy Kitchen Sink: Or, more accurately, Lovecraftian Kitchen Sink. Most of the most famous of H.P.'s creations are featured at one point or another in this game, and even woven into one another rather cleverly.
Continuity Lockout: Those unfamiliar with Lovecraft's work will probably find the reveal that Jack is part Yith and has the body-swapping ability to go with it somewhat confusing.
Controllable Helplessness: The 'interrogation' of Jack by Hoover isn't a cutscene but an actual playable sequence during which the player is tied on a bed and can only move Jack head.
It's mentioned that half the population is really corrupted while the other half is just too afraid to do anything about it. So with the corrupted roaming the streets looking for you and the more normal people hiding indoors, it's more like everyone from Innsmouth you meet.
Deadly Rotary Fan: At one point, you have to flee into the sewers, but the way is blocked by a sharp fan. You have to break one of the blades to slow it down and open a passage and even then you'll get chopped (but not always killed) if you're hit.
Devil in Plain Sight: It's blatantly obvious that there is something very fishy about the people of Innsmouth. It's an interesting example, though, as the in-game human characters actually do notice... they just don't have any legal basis to do anything about it. At first...
The Dev Team Thinks of Everything: Seeing too much disturbing stuff at once will cause Jack to freak out in a number of different ways. One such way is that he'll start muttering to himself in a panic. What he mutters is in direct context to whatever he's seeing that scares him, be it a ghostly girl, a rotting corpse, or a giant monster made of brown acid.
There's a moment where the player needs to unlock a ladder locked on a ceiling by shooting its lock. Doing it under the ladder makes it fall on Jack and badly injury him.
Did You Just Punch Out Cthulhu?: Almost literally. Knocking out Dagon with the main gun of a United States Coast Guard cutter, and electrocuting Hydra with a Yithian Lightning Cannon.
Diegetic Interface: You have no HUD and no way to track your ammunition besides your inventory. You measure your health by the intensity of colors and how Jack moves or aims; colors bleed out as Jack's health gets lower and broken legs make him start limping, while a broken arm makes his aim waver.
Dirty Coward: The Urania sailor who locks Jack out on the ship's deck.
FPS: Towards the end of the game, it turns more and more FPS-y.
Gameplay and Story Segregation: When armed with a crowbar and a shotgun, Mr. Walters feels the compelled to use a key to open flimsy wooden doors, even after seeing both enemies and friendly NPCs bust through doors with improvised weapons and himself shooting (some) locks easily.
Giant Space Flea from Nowhere: The penultimate boss is a pair of Flying Polyps that seem to come out of nowhere. Since his way was blocked in Y'ha-nthlei, Jack took a route through an adjacent cavern system that connected to one of the cavernous Vaults where the Yithians had locked up their old enemies.
Golden Ending: Getting 100% on your file simply nets an extended version of the standard ending. Jack still dies, but the game at least explains fully what the hell was going on the entire game.
Played straight by Jack. His father's consciousness was taken over by a Yith while his mother was normal. Ultimately, he is neither human nor Yith.
100% Completion: Gathering all collectible intel items as well as performing all optional actions is required to get the extended ending that actually explains what the hell was going on with Jack the whole time. That's just one requirement, though. You also need to score an "A" rank in the game by finishing quickly, not using too many saves, and overall playing exceptionally well. Or you can just watch it on Youtube. There is an unofficial fan-made patch here that removes some of the limitations, so one can actually take time to enjoy the game and still get the best ending.
Hyperspace Arsenal: Jack is capable of toting — at once — six guns, a knife, a crowbar, and a large eldritch tome, among other things, without any sort of visible container. None of it affects his move speed, although movement speed is affected by what weapon you have readied — even if that weapon is currently holstered — leading to realizing that you move more slowly with a put-away Thompson SMG than you do with a put-away pistol.
Idiot Ball: Yes, Jack. Sleep in the hotel where you found body parts in the manager's office and read his journal SPECIFICALLY SAYING HE TORTURED KILLED THREE PEOPLE! I'm sure only good things will come of that.
Immune to Bullets: The Bosses, as well as one of the Beloved of Cthulhu that appears briefly at the beginning of "The Esoteric Order Of Dagon". It can be killed with a conveniently placed flamethrower, while the bosses (such as Dagon and Hydra) usually require some unique level specific thing (like a ships main gun or the Yithian Lightning Gun).
Inverted when Jack takes control of the mind of a Deep One and for a limited time it does his bidding.
Interface Screw: Madness will blur your vision, slow down your perception of time, make you hear things, make you deaf, make the screen go all wavy... the Sanity Slippage effects alone do more to make the game scary than all the Cthulhu Mythos beasties put together.
Mercy Kill: Some genetic experiment in the Marshes lab asks for this, and you can give it to him with your rifle.
Monogender Monsters: Averted with the Deep Ones once they finally attack in force. About half of them are clearly more feminine than the other half, though still quite ugly and monstrous.
Names to Run Away From Really Fast: Anyone called Marsh, and more than that, Waite. Anyone who's read Lovecraft's The Thing on the Doorstep is going to be running twice as fast as everyone else.
"You ever hear of a thing called a 'shoggoth?'"
Nice Job Breaking It, Hero: Jack investigates the door to Mrs. Waite's 'room' in the attic, causing 'her' to break down the door and run downstairs to rip her little daughter to shreds. Mr. Waites eventually slits his own throat from grief the day before he's about to be hanged for being framed as his daughter's murderer. Good one, Jack.
Non-Mammal Mammaries: Hydra, queen and "Mother" of the Deep Ones, has two pairs of breasts. Could be justified, as Deep Ones can interbreed with humans, and therefore must presumably share some genetic material.
Some of the standard Deep Ones appear to have them as well.
Obvious Beta: Six years in development, and then the studio went bankrupt shortly after the game was released. At least they got something out there.
Optional Stealth: As soon as you get your hands on the weapons, you can still complete some puzzles in the stealthy way, but is much easier (and satisfying) to just whip out guns and crowbar and kill all those fishmen around.
Precision F-Strike: Upon regaining consciousness in the bottom of a factory, Jack sees the formless brown acidic mass of the dreaded shoggoth flowing into the room and pretty much taking up the entire (very large) area. His response is a whispered, quavering "Oh...fuck..."
Primal Fear: It's implied Jack is afraid of heights, as looking down from a high place is one way to lose sanity.
Psychic Powers: Jack is hinted to have these throughout the game, and has visions of monsters following him. It's explained that Jack's father was mind-switched with a Yithian moments before Jack was conceived, giving him a bit of the alien's mind-projection abilities. These are used at the end of the game to take control of Hydra's Deep Ones.
The Deep Ones priests and a few of the cultists also have powers, including Robert Marsh, who has telekinesis, telepathy, the power to shoot energy balls, and some sort of attack that resembles a force push. Hydra also uses hers to shield Y'ha-nthlei from an attacking sub.
When Jack's sanity is low, he will sometimes hear his Yithian "father" call to him, or urge him on. In one instance he even directly references Jack's powers:
"Use your gift, Jack."
Puzzle Boss: You can't directly hurt the shoggoth. It's the size of a small house, and it's a Nigh Invulnerable, formless, no-organs-or-weak-points blob monster made out of acid, so a pistol would be useless. Fortunately, both times you face it, it's in an area full of industrial machines that you can use to hurt it. (Note that "Hurt" does not mean "kill.")
Survival Horror: Waste too many bullets or medical supplies and you will regret it.
Title Drop: "I now walk in the shadow between worlds... and it is there I have finally glimpsed upon what lives in the dark corners of the earth."
Too Dumb to Live: Half of the marines assigned to help you infiltrate the Esoteric Order of Dagon die because they stopped to beat up a group of cowering hostiles, while on breaking ice.
When the waves start hitting the Urania, Officer Winter calls out for the crew to take cover. The player is the only other person to do so; everyone else on deck is killed. What's more, more crewmen will occasionally spawn and run out to the deck only to die.
The last crewman you see alive on the Urania locks you out on the deck and welds the door shut. You, the one who's fought through countless Deep Ones and the only one with weapons.
Too Spicy for Yog Sothoth: At one point you must recover a hammer from a room containing a Beloved that won't let you in alive. You have to put a special blue flower in its food bucket in order to kill it and access the room.
Unexpected Shmup Level: Of a sort. You begin your escape from Innsmouth with Burnham driving a pickup while you hang on in the back and shoot at cultists.
The Unfought: Cthulhu. You do hear his calls, though, and it's easily one of the creepiest moments in the game.
Unusable Enemy Equipment: Enemies drop neither ammunition nor weaponry, not even when it would be really helpful, such as taking a weapon when you have nothing but a crowbar, or maybe taking Sebastian Marsh's revolver in the battle against Robert Marsh.
Unwinnable by Design: A few times near the end, which is especially unpredictable since in most of the game it's impossible to do a mistake during the riddles. But it isn't as frustrating as it seems, because at these moments it is impossible to reach a savepoint.
On the Devil's Reef, a door near of the exit of the level must be reached within a timer. To launch it, you have to put a jewel in a mechanism, run to the other door and put a red crystal in the opened claw in front of the door; when timer expires, the claws close; if the red crystal is put in the claws the door opens, if not nothing happens. The first difficulty is that the timer can only be triggered one time. The second is that near the launching mechanism there is claws like the ones you have to reach; the ones near the launching mechanism hold a green crystal and opens too when you put the jewel in the timer's mechanism. The green crystal can be picked up by the player but if it isn't in the claws when the timer expires the door won't open.
Unwinnable by Mistake: The final timed escaped sequence is almost impossible to complete on the PC version without using a trainer, as a programming oversight results in your movement speed being slower on the PC version. This is actually a bug related to the screen resolution you are using. The higher your resolution is set to, the slower Jack moves. If you have a large monitor and try putting the game to something like 1400x900 so the screen is not stretched and blurry, you will move about as fast as chilled honey. This is fixable though, if you choose something like 800x600. The bug doesn't exist in the Steam version.
A rather infamous glitch exists in the PC version where during the attack on the Coast Guard cutter, some mages that you have to shoot with a cannon and the reef they stand on fail to generate. There is no real indication as to why this occurs and it only occurs on some copies of the PC game. Unfortunately, the only way around it is to download the save game file of a person who does not have this glitch.
Walk It Off / Heal Thyself: Both, at once. Various parts of Jack's body can be injured and can be treated with medical supplies. He will slowly heal over time but it's not safe to try this if you're in the middle of a firefight.
Wolverine Publicity: Cthulhu himself does not appear in the game, despite it being called Call of Cthulhu. Several statues of him are featured, he is referenced numerous times, and one of his "chosen" is even fought, but Cthulhu himself is never seen in the flesh. Some thought that it made it scarier and gave the lesser known Great Old Ones Dagon and Hydra some recognition, while others were very disappointed that he wasn't in the game. Of course, if Cthulhu deigned to show his big noodly face anywhere in the game, there wouldn't really be much of a game, as Jack's options would be INSTANT DEATH or GIBBERING INSANITY, FOLLOWED BY DEATH.
Even looking at a certain statue of Cthulhu will drain your sanity, though. So it's possible that Cthulhu does make a cameo of sorts.