Interview with the Lead Designer of Call of Cthulhu: The Official Video Game

Recently, several developers have announced a slew of new games based on, or inspired by, the works of H.P. Lovecraft, an author who is known for his neo-gothic novellas. In the past year, games including Moons of Madness, Black Mirror, and Conarium have all aimed to take us back to the murky depths of these short stories.

Focus Home Interactive announced that it, in partnership with Cyanide Studios, were working on a game for the latest generation of consoles and PC in 2014. Since then, it has remained pretty quiet on the development of the title, however, last year we finally received some news, most importantly what the horror title would be based on. It was revealed through several cryptic trailers and teasers that the game would take inspiration from the works of the famous author, and focus heavily on attempting to stay true to both the board game and the worlds imagined by Lovecraft.

We discussed the game with the Lead Designer, Jean-Marc Gueney, as we attempted to try and dig out some more information surrounding the upcoming horror title. Gueney has been credited with games such as The Saga of Ryzom, an open-world multiplayer game, and Dofus 2. He has been with Cyanide Studios since 2015, and it will be quite interesting to see how his vision for the title will come to life when it finally launches.

In the last year, we have seen renewed interest in the works of H.P. Lovecraft after it being absent in video game narratives for some time. Why do you think there is a sudden interest in these horror tales?

Jean-Marc Gueney: I wouldn't say that the interest and use of Lovecraft novels in games are sudden. There is evidence of it many years ago, before even titles like Alone in the Dark or Resident Evil. However, it’s definitely become easier for developers to create a ‘Lovecraftian’ atmosphere, as modern hardware and techniques allow for greater immersion – now on par with that possible in movies. I don't know about the future, but I do hope there will be more games of this style and type (especially for our studio). There are already some very promising games in development. I can't wait!

H.P. Lovecraft was known for several horror stories, most notably Call of Cthulhu. On which of these are your game based on?

JMC: We had the chance to work with Mark Morrison, a renowned author who wrote many RPG books and scenarios set in the Lovecraft universe. Mark wrote an original story for us that is highly influenced and closely follows the narrative structure of a Lovecraft novel. There’s certainly inspiration taken directly from many of Lovecraft’s existing novels here and there, but it's up to the player to find them.

Will the insanity system be integrated into the game much like the board game and Call of Cthulhu: Dark Corners of the Earth?

JMC: As in Dark Corners of the Earth, we have a Sanity system. The SAN is mostly a narrative element - as the story advances, the player’s SAN can only go down. Depending on your SAN level, our hero will experience and see different things, real and otherwise.

I read somewhere that the game will not feature a lot of gunplay, more specifically, you will focus on stealth and trying to avoid danger at all costs. Why did you decide on this specifically, and will it have crosshairs on screen?

JMC: In the Lovecraft universe, supernatural beings are extremely powerful, and guns are not much help against them. We believe it a core 'Lovecraftian' concept that humanity should be insignificant, even helpless against such creatures. If you can defeat them with a gun, they are not much of a threat. That said, there will still be some moments when a gun is of use. And yes, there will be a crosshair.

The trailers have been extremely cryptic up to now, not spoiling much of the story and what it is about. Can we assume that the game will have its fair share of twists in the narrative?

JMC: The very essence of a Lovecraft novel is to discover horrible truths that hide behind our reality, so yes there will be some twists!

How did your studio come to decide on developing a game specifically based on the works of H.P. Lovecraft, which up to now has been, as mentioned, pretty rare?

JMC: Lovecraft influenced many authors, designers, scenarists, writers and is still today. I wouldn't say that it hasn't been explored for some time. Our game is not only a faithful adaptation of the Lovecraft universe, it is also the official adaptation of the pen-and-paper RPG by Chaosium. Focus, our editor, looked for a studio to develop a game based on those licenses. Having a long working partnership Cyanide was a natural choice.

When you announced the game you noted that you were taking great care as to keep to the authenticity of the worlds created by the author (graphically). Can you give some examples of this, and how you're implementing them?

JMC: The horror met by its characters is often described as unspeakable. When designing our creatures, we asked ourselves what can be so frightful that one can’t even describe it in words later? One way we tried to answer that is by giving special effects to the creatures when the player looks at them.

Will we see a Shoggoth or Cthulhu? Might we visit R'yleh in-game? Or do you want it to be a surprise?

JMC: In previous demonstrations, we showed a 'dimensional shambler', a creature that can travel through dimensions to track its prey. There will be cultists, twisted human beings, and other creatures. Whether Cthulhu will be physically present… well, you’ll have to wait and see.

Will the game allow you to explore the cities and/or towns in the game to find hidden nooks and crannies where you might find unspeakable horrors?

JMC: Yes, the game takes place on Darkwater Island. There, you'll have to explore many places, including settlements, to discover the truth behind the case that led you there. Through this case, the player will uncover terrible truths about our reality.

It's a hot topic this one, but will you support both PlayStation 4 Pro and Xbox One X with higher-fidelity graphics?

JMC: The decision regarding PS4 Pro and Xbox One X support hasn’t yet been made.

You haven't announced an official release date yet, any clue as to when we all might experience the horror you will bestow upon us?

JMC: Stay tuned!

Anything you might want to add for those (including myself) looking forward to the game?

JMC: When developing our game, we emphasized giving players an experience as close as possible to that of the pen-and-paper RPG set in the Lovecraft universe. It’s our hope that players will enjoy our creation as much as we’ve had developing it!

Call of Cthulhu: The Official Video Game is slated for launch early in 2018 on Xbox One, PlayStation 4, and PC. The game, which takes inspiration from the horrors penned by H.P. Lovecraft, follows the private detective, Edward Pierce, who is tasked with solving the mystery behind the death of an entire family on Darkwater Island. Here he discovers a deep and interwoven network of cultists and unspeakable horrors, among other terrifying things.

You can check out the latest trailer for the game below, and some screenshots. For up to date news relating to Call of Cthulhu: The Official Video Game, follow @NeowinGaming on Twitter!

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