Fantasy games have a long history of making fun of themselves. Whether it’s older games like The Bard’s Tale or last year’s Mage Gauntlet and Dragon Fantasy, the sword and sorcery world has always enjoyed tearing down and deconstructing the very tropes that the genre is known for. Cthulhu Saves the World is yet another entry into the self-parodying fantasy genre, and it does so with a rather unique take on the typical RPG storyline and more tongue-in-cheek humor than you can shake a slimy, disgusting tentacle at.
In the game you play as the destroyer of worlds, the Lovecraftian nightmare known as Cthulhu. His power has been stripped and he’s been cursed to forever be a shadow of his once powerful self. His only hope is to take on the role of a hero, prove himself and somehow get his power back so he can again rain terror on the world. Throughout your adventures you’ll fight monsters like snails wearing lipstick, fat zombies, and creatures ripped right out of the Lovecraft stories. You’ll also pick up fellow adventurers like a goth chick named October, a sentient sword, a dragon, and an adorable little alien kitty. If this all sounds a little ridiculous and nonsensical, well it is. But if you’re willing to buy into the silliness, then you’ll be treated to a really fun adventure.
Cthulhu needs no rest!
Gameplay is pretty much like every other old-school Final Fantasy-type RPG. You and your oddball band of adventurers wander around the world, visit different towns, explore dungeons, and complete quests all in the hopes of getting Cthulhu his power back. Your characters gain experience and level up like usual and gain all sorts of new abilities, spells, techniques, and stat increases.
Battles are random and take place on a separate screen. Your characters take turns doing their things and they have a lot of different options available to them. One thing we really liked was the Unite moves, which are techniques that take two different characters to accomplish. For example, Cthulhu and a character named Umi can join forces and call forth the Kraken, a giant tentacle creature that can wreak massive damage on the enemies.
Also during battle there is a Combo counter that affects various characters that have Combo moves. As the counter grows, the abilities and damage that these moves can do increases and changes. Once the move is used, though, the counter resets to zero, so you have to use a Combo when the moment is right. Certain spells can also cause the enemies to go ‘insane,’ which decreases their ability to hit but also increases their damage when they do. There’s a surprising amount of strategy for you to use during battle, and finding the right way to use these various aspects of fighting can make for a lot of fun.
There are a few problems with the game. First, and most importantly, the controls really aren’t very good. You swipe the screen to move around and also to scroll through the menus. This isn’t terribly accurate and leads to choosing the wrong things in menus, getting stuck when exploring, or simply having difficulty going from point A to point B. A traditional D-Pad would have been much more preferable.
Another issue is that the game is very linear and short. There’s not a whole of exploring to do as you go from place to place, and you’ll only get about six hours of gameplay, maybe a little more. That might seem like a lot for an iOS game, but in RPG terms that’s a pretty short game.
Cthulhu Saves the World is a fun little game. It’s extremely funny, the battle system is well done and the graphics and sound will whisk back to the old days of RPG goodness. It’s not perfect, but anyone looking for an amusing little adventure would do well to pick this one up.