The Ninjabot

Eldritch Review – A Frightening Lovecraftian Stealth Adventure

Posted on November 10, 2013 at 12:00 pm by Victor Chaves

eldritch_title

Start with a Minecraft foundation, plop in some stealth-action rogue-like gameplay, then stir-in some H.P. Lovecraft and you get the simple yet awesome indie game Eldritch. From Minor Key Games, Eldritch looks like it was pulled right out of Minecraft, except you explore dungeons for weapons, keys, and money while dodging Lovecraftian creatures that, despite a simplistic look, are still haunting to behold.

Cthulhu Fhtagn

As the main character, you start in a library where the goal is to enter three separate books and explore their respective dungeons in order to find a way out. The problem? These dungeons are randomly assembled and full of monsters that are downright unsettling. Walking in with nothing, you gather supplies to help with your survival, rocks and bottles to throw at and distract enemies, knives and guns to attack, equipment to run faster or quieter, and TNT to blow holes in the walls and ground to gain access to areas you couldn’t otherwise access.

"Oh my, Cthulhu. What are you gonna do with that knife?"

“Oh my, Cthulhu. What are you gonna do with that knife?”

Stealth is the name of the game in Eldritch. Sneaking around enemies is paramount since your health is alarmingly low, and your damage output isn’t exactly formidable. You’ll find yourself jumping up to other platforms and surprising your enemies in a sneak attack, checking corners before you unleash a panicked flurry of stabs, or running away from an unforeseen mob and sliding into a crawl space they can’t enter. These moments of tension serve to chisel away at your heart, tearing away the preconception that you need amazing graphics to be scared. Eldritch truly stands in a realm on its own.

The Shoggoth in the Room

Now that we’re here, let’s get this out of the way—yes,the graphics in Eldritch look very much like Minecraft. Most of us have already played Minecraft, and I don’t blame you if you’re wary of buying a game that looks exactly like one you’ve already sunk dozens upon dozens of hours into. Yes, there are free mods out there that are plenty fun and don’t require a new purchase of a game, but I have to argue that this game still deserves your time and money. Why? Because as familiar as Eldritch looks, there are differences so vast that further investigation is absolutely required.

He's gonna have contacts on after this bottle hits his face.

He’s gonna have contacts on after this bottle hits his face.

Eldritch is more than just the sum of its parts. The atmosphere and level design really knock the block-like features into the background, and I found myself not even noticing it after a while. Wandering the caverns teaches you how fragile you are, and that stealth is an absolute necessity if you want to stay alive. You start hearing cues, music plays a little louder when you’re spotted, the suction of monsters creeping around increases as they search for you, and an “it’s too quiet” vibe after entering a new location heightens the suspense. Although the game isn’t traditionally scary, these audio hints created some great, tense moments. You learn to love and hate these sounds for all the right reasons.

Being a rogue-like type of game, the player starts each level with no items at all (unless you just beat the previous level, in which case your items carry over) in an area that is completely unexplored. Exploring is a requirement as anything you can scrounge up could prove useful in one way or another down in the caverns. What I love about this is that in every nook and cranny you explore, there’s a chance you’ll get a little bit of something to help you on your way. More often than not, I even found the dungeon’s exit. Rather than escaping, I always turned around and explored the rest of the location. As much as this is a stealth/action game, it’s also an extremely exploratory one as well, and I loved the feeling of discovery when a hole in a wall with treasure inside. If exploring is your bag, then you’re going to find a lot fun in Eldritch.

Believe me, this is the scariest foe you'll ever face.

Believe me, this is the scariest foe you’ll ever face.

Is That a Giant Flying Fireball-Flinging Eyeball?

The monsters you encounter range from general creatures that look like cute fish and bodies that hit you with their claws, to bird-like tall creatures that always come back to life when killed. Each creature has their own quirks and qualities to them, and learning those quirks can help identify which creature is behind a door . The monsters do look silly due to the graphical nature of the game, but their abilities provided the most memorable moments, in my opinion. One monster in particular that takes the form of a lizard statue will start to follow when it sees you, attacking the moment you look away from it. When I turned around and saw that the lizard statue had moved from ten feet away to right next to me in a menacing pose, it gave me flashbacks to the Xbox 360 game Condemned.

A Labyrinth of Nightmares Cubed

A Labyrinth of Nightmares Cubed

Final Thoughts

Eldritch is a great game, where the thrill of exploring a new area, as well as sneaking and taking down monsters, is a constant source of fun. If you enjoyed games like Rogue Legacy, FTL, and Minecraft, then you’ll probably find lots to love in Eldritch. It may seem a bit daunting at first, but you’ll quickly adapt to the impeccably tight controls and rhythms of each dungeon, finding that time slips by like like Cthulhu on a lake of ice. It doesn’t bring anything groundbreaking to the table, but it certainly puts together mighty compelling argument.

Presentation: 7

Gameplay: 9

Replay: 8

LEGACY SCORE: 8.0

Geek Legacy’s review scores are on a scale of 1-10, with 10 being the highest possible score. This review is based on the Steam download of Eldritch, provided by Minor Key Games.

Follow Victor on Twitter @fake_brasilian to keep up on his sandwiches.

    Sharing the Legacy on Flickr

    See all photos

    Tweets