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Lovecraft in Gaming
Howard Phillips Lovecraft was one of the best sci-fi/horror writers in America. His stories have a very unique style as the reader never has a true grasp of what is going on. It is this very style that makes his work so gripping. Lovecraft is, of course, widely known for the creation of the maddening, alien monster named Cthulhu. Lovecraft’s Mythos hasn’t solely been contained to books, many movies and even videogames have borrowed elements of his masterful storytelling and even some of his famed eldritch horrors. Perhaps you’ve heard of or even played some.
Amnesia: The Dark Decent is a game that oozes Lovecraft. While trying to figure out what’s going on around them, players are faced with many horrors; some of which are never seen and more psychological. This is pretty much Lovecraft’s trade mark seeing as how the monsters he wrote about usually drove a person mad upon seeing or even being near these unfathomable beasts. Not every terrible monster was invisible though. The ones the player did get to glimpse had a striking resemblance to the half human, half fish people from Lovecraft’s lore.
Perhaps a little more well-known is the Persona series; a long running RPG series spanning from the era of the PlayStation One to the current generation of consoles. While not as heavily influenced as Amnesia, Persona and even the parent series Shin Megami Tensei, borrow a few of the characters from the Cthulhu Mythos. If you’ve yet to play the Persona series, here is your warning to stop reading because I will present spoilers. Throughout the events of the first two games, the player will find out that the demon Nyarlathotep is the one causing all the madness. One of the many names given to Nyarlathotep was the Crawling Chaos so releasing demons and trying to get humanity to destroy itself is right up his alley. His physical appearance in these games was based off of one of his many forms in the Mythos and even that of other Lovecraftian monsters. Nyarlathotep is said to have many avatars or masks, so many different depictions are to be expected.
With beings of absolute terror and forms which are unimaginable, it’s hard to make an actual game based off of Lovecraft’s work. Luckily there were a few developers that were up to the challenge. Call of Cthulhu: Dark Corners of the Earth allowed players to delve into the Cthulhu Mythos as an FBI agent sent to check out the dreary old town of Innsmouth. What he finds is stranger than fiction; including a cult, alien monsters, and an underwater city (Not Rapture…). Several sequels were planned but never saw the light of day due to bankruptcy. Chaosium, publishers of the Call of Cthulhu role playing game, released an IOS version of their dice game Elder Sign. Players are able to choose an investigator and then battle monsters to find clues to which will enable them to prevent the coming of The Old Ones.
This is but a small example of H. P. Lovecraft’s influence in the gaming world. Some instances may be a bit harder to spot and others are blatant tributes to the genius that was Lovecraft. Without him, we would never have the Necronomicon; and without that, Bruce Campbell wouldn’t have starred in The Army of Darkness (Which is a really cool movie).