Monday, October 7, 2013

PC Spotlight #21: Eldritch

Title: Eldritch
Developer: Minor Key Games
Platforms: PC
Price: $15
Beyond 2005's Call of Cthulhu and the more recent Magrunners, it seems that games inspired by the Cthulhu Mythos have been few and far between. (I may be mistaken though). Eldritch plans to change that by combining the otherworldly mythology of Lovecraftian fiction with the tension and thrill of a first-person roguelike.

You begin your journey into the world of Eldritch within a mysterious endless library. This is your hub world, where you can customize your character, choose which level to explore, and just not worry about dying. Levels are represented by mystical books; reading from them pulls you into the procedurally-generated enemy-infested worlds described within their pages.
The elements that make Eldritch stand out from other first person roguelikes is its emphasis on stealth and its varied combat. You can crouch, slide, and lean to peek around corners like in Thief. Footsteps and sprinting make noise and can alert enemies. Bottles and rocks can be thrown to distract enemies. Of the three weapons currently available, your revolver is loud but powerful, your knife is silent, and your crossbow is also silent and can set tripwire traps.
Adding to the stealth mechanics and combat in general is the magic system. Throughout the levels, you collect artifacts that act as both mana and currency. Spells endowed upon you by deity statues require certain amounts of artifacts per use, giving the game a risk-reward element. Do you use your artifacts to cast spells that can distract enemies and unlock doors, create powerful explosion, allow you to teleport, and more, or do you save them to purchase weapons, ammo, and special gear at shopkeepers in each level? Death is final, so choose wisely, although you can save certain amounts of artifacts across attempts by saving them in chests.
Eldritch is still in development so there are kinks and balancing issues to be found. For a game hoping to be a roguelike, I was never lacking ammo or artifacts and some of the enemies, especially those in the first world, are just too easy to kill. Luckily the other worlds up the difficulty with enemies that can't be killed, only temporally stopped and statues that rumble to life in your presence. However for a game inspired by Lovecraftian fiction, I was hoping for more surreal otherworldly enemy designs. The knife and revolver also feel much too overpowered. But these are issues that can easily be remedied as the beta improves and don't detract from the game's overall polish and gameplay.
Eldritch was recently Greenlit and will be available on Steam on October 21st. You can buy the game for beta access here.

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