It came from the lack of light, it came from the dark and it became the darkness. Shrouding men in insanity, rage and finally death this is ancient evil. Armed with batons, rifles and pistols you lead a small troop across the battlefields of World War One. The task to stop whatever lurks in the dark, possessing men to commit evil and wage war on his peer.
Based upon the world created by H.P. Lovecraft Call of Cthulhu: The Wasted Land(TWL) is set in a dark musky battlefield. You lead a small team consisting of four men with different abilities, and weaponry. From the first mission this turn based strategy game throws you straight into the crossfire. Hiding in trenches trying to pick off the ever increasing number of enemy soldiers soon makes the game feel quite hard, and dark. As well as the world of TWL manages to capture me the slow pace, and horrid controls manages to pull me out. There is a clear discord between the gameplay, and the game world. As far as I can understand the world depicted has been used in a board game RPG, and that kind of explains why the world is so well developed. All the characters, items and environments are really well done. The transition from a RPG to a turn based strategy game was not as easy.
Each turn you get a number of action points for each of your soldiers. It is enough to fire a round from a rifle, two rounds for a pistol or two melee attacks. You are also free to move your soldiers as well. To select a soldier you tap it, and then you tap where you want to go. A counter tells you how many action points the movement costs, and a second tap moves. Attacking is not as easy to grasp. First you select one of your men, and then you sort of drag to the enemy you want to target. At times you also have to tap to get the attack menu to show, but it can just as well interpret the tap as a selection of the enemy soldier. This is by no means precise, but by golly it is still a vast improvement over the prior double tap method.
New objectives are given, as you progress across the map. It always feels like you are heavily outnumbered, and in fact you are. Having to fend off hordes while at the same time spending action points to move is a slow process. From the moment I know where I am supposed to go to actually getting there can take more than five minutes.
The strong point of the game is the presentation that is dark, gritty and filled with dark ambience. I have been a fan of the mythos of Lovecraft for years, and just as Dark Corners of the Earth for Xbox gave an excellent FPS perspective on the world we now get a birds eye view that is equally immersive. The sound effects, and moody music enhance the sense of a brooding darkness.
Upgrading the character stats, and buying new weapons between missions are also some of the better parts of the experience. In fact I at times feel that this game would have been better off as an interpretation of the RPG instead of turned into a TBS. The character development is kind of stunted from the design.
Call of Cthulhu: The Wasted Land combines excellent presentation, immersive audio and a well-designed universe with slow gameplay ridden with wonky controls. Those interested into a turn based strategy game with a proper story will still have a great deal of fun with the game, as will those who keeps Lovecraft art on the wall and his writings under the pillow.
Call of Cthulhu: The Wasted Land $4.99 Univeral for iPad/iPhone/iPod
Seller: Red Wasp Design Ltd.