Reply To: Magazine Reviews


Non-Finnish speaking people might find this interesting: A Google translated review by Niko Nirvi from the Finnish gaming magazine, Pelit (original article):

“There have been a few attempts to use Lovecraft’s Cthulhu mythology in computer games, but only companies starting with Info have succeeded. These are, of course, Infocom’s Lurking Horror and Infogrames’ Alone in The Dark.

Shadow of the Comet is the firstborn of Infogrames’ new Call of Cthulhu series, made in collaboration with Chaosium Inc. (Alone in The Dark is not part of the series. Sorry.) Shadow uses the improved Eternam system, so it’s an adventure game, not a role-playing game, as the name might easily suggest.

In 1834, Lord Boleskine found in old, infamous manuscripts a mention of a place where the stars are brighter and appear to be closer to Earth. Boleskine travels to said location, the village of Illsmouth in New England.

And then Halley’s Comet spins into view. H. P. Lovecraft lovers know what happens: Boleskine sees A Creature, who is so unspeakably terrible that the lord loses his mind and later dies in St. Andrew’s Asylum. In a creepy way, of course.

And naturally, he leaves behind sketches that 76 years later lead John T. Parker, a young astrologer, to travel to Illsmouth. And guess what, in three days Halley’s Comet will be visible again! And why do the Hambleton family have flipper hands? Iä Iä, Cthulhu Ftagn, as they say.

Shadow of the Comet’s strongest point is its progressively increasing tension. The relaxed atmosphere of the first day, broken by little strangers, culminates in a mystical ritual and fainting.

On the second day, there is no doubt that something is terribly wrong in Illsmouth: murder, deals with the Ancients, strange phenomena in photographs, and a mausoleum whose deadly traps you run into to compete with an unspeakable abomination. After the small exorcism operations, there are a few less Cthulhu worshipers in Illsmouth, after passing out, it remains to destroy the immortal Indian and prevent the return of the Great Ancients. Goodbye Hastur, Goodbye Nyarlahotep!

There are plenty of Lovecraftian elements, although Parker keeps his cool much better than his literary counterparts and is not in the grip of hysteria all the time.

Graphics have always been a strong field for the French, and Shadow is no exception. In addition to the usual adventure game graphics, where the little guy pouts in bitmap backgrounds, there are excellent close-up portraits and impressive outline animations. There are a few short tracks of music, fortunately there is a nice amount of sampled effects.

The user interface has not improved much from Eternam. Parker is moved with the cursor keys and object manipulation is done either with the menu found behind the TAB or more easily with keyboard shortcuts. The system otherwise works well, sometimes just what to do and what not to do depends too much on the place. I even had to call Infogrames with tears in my throat, who found out that the operation must be done next to the table in my own room (I’m sure you’ll figure out which operation). Luckily I survived, otherwise I would have gone crazy, which on the other hand would have been very Lovecraftish.

The biggest problem with the connection is the lack of feedback, so you can’t always be sure that the command got there, and the game could cultivate even some kind of hints, especially if you try the right thing but in the wrong place.

Clever inventions include the notebook, in which Parker records essential tips and which also serves as a clear direction indicator at times. Parker can also use the village map to toe either directly or close to the destination he wants. Kindly, the rest of the manual contains forbidden secret information, except for one important sentence, the first day’s solution can be found in the mystical hieroglyphs.

Shadow’s problems vary from medium to easy, although there are a few demanding ones. It is possible to get into dead ends at a couple of points if you mess up the conversation, for example by making Jugg angry. The game progresses event-driven, i.e. solving a problem triggers the next one. I myself have been stuck at the beginning of the third day, when Matawanga doesn’t seem to be found anywhere.

It should go without saying that those interested in horror and/or Lovecraft should definitely check out Shadow of the Comet, because the story is quite absorbing and with a better user interface the points would have been even higher. Infogrames has got a brilliant idea by focusing on Lovecraft games, and by improving the user interface, it would rise to the ranks of the Great Ancients (Sierragth/Luc’hasArtshogh). Yes, I will gladly answer Cthulhu’s call again.

Summary: A very engaging, even exciting adventure game.

88/100 points”