LOVECRAFT'S UNTOLD STORIES / DEVELOPER: BLINI GAMES / PUBLISHER: BADLAND PUBLISHING / PLATFORM: PC, PS4, SWITCH (REVIEWED), XBOX ONE / RELEASE DATE: OUT NOW
Lovecraftian influences seem to be all the rage these days, with several HP-based games currently on the market and at least one other major title on the way. Most of these take a first-person investigative approach, but Untold Stories goes along an entirely different path. At first glance, you might assume this is a standard twin-stick shooter, but dig a bit deeper and you soon realise there's much more to it.
Untold's sparse plot sets the scene and pretty much leaves you to it. Cosmic horrors The Old Ones are compromising and controlling life on earth, and five brave citizens have grouped together to put an end to the madness. Only one of these (the detective, of course) is playable at the beginning, with the others gradually unlocking as you work through each person's story. These stories are all unique - each character has their own weapons and abilities and visits different locations, so what you're essentially getting is one huge game split across five widely-varied storylines, all linking together at the end with the final confrontation with The Old Ones themselves. The wider story slowly reveals itself through interacting with the world around you, and fits perfectly with the Lovecraft Mythos - HP fans will be more than happy, but at the same time it isn't too confusing for newcomers.
The rooms and enemies you encounter are randomly generated, which keeps you on your toes as you never quite know what you're getting yourself into. You might find a bunch of useful resources, a handy shop, some clues to investigate (although steer clear of the dodgy-looking ones - as with most Lovecraft games, if your sanity drops too low, you're likely to meet a self-inflicted gruesome end), a mob of monsters baying for your blood, or a boss battle... There are secret rooms to find, tons of items to play with, and the odd side quest here and there to spice things up a bit. The pixel art does the job nicely in the graphics department, creating some foreboding environments that combine with the quietly sinister piano score to ramp up the creepy yet intriguing atmosphere.
With its heavier focus on action, Lovecraft's Untold Stories provides a welcome change of pace from the walking simulator-style gameplay found in other Lovecraft titles, and is all the better for it. You get a ton of content for a relatively low price too, which is always appreciated. Great stuff.