Call of Cthulhu: The Wasted Land Review

Call of Cthulhu: The Wasted Land is a turn-based strategy role-playing game based on the 1926 short story “Call of Cthulhu” by writer H.P. Lovecraft, as well as the table-top RPG which also bears the name. It takes place during the first World War, and pits your team of soldiers and investigators against the forces of the ancient titular enemy. Your team’s task? To maintain sanity and save humankind.

As far as graphics are concerned, the game looks great– as great as gritty World War-era settings are likely to look on the iPhone, at any rate. Overall, the game seems to have a good idea of where it wants to be, featuring a popular mythos and the graphics to deliver it.

Shot through the heart, and you’re to blame.

Unfortunately, when it comes to gameplay, that’s where some people may find The Wasted Land comes up a bit short. With the release of version 1.2, we can at least say the game is now playable, a claim we were unable to make previously, as attempting to control anything beyond the camera was random at best, and flat out unresponsive at worst.

In the 1.2 update, some camera control tweaks have been added that allow for players to pinch to zoom, and touch and hold instead of double-tapping. Unfortunately, both seem kind of iffy in execution, though not nearly as bad as before.

Toy soldiers running amok.

The in-game logic feels bizarre as well. For instance, having your soldiers fire shots at the enemy from point-blank range results in a lot of misses. Now, we were not in the first World War and are hardly qualified to speak on the quality of the weapons used therein, but this seems a bit strange to us.

It also seems that the further away you are, the more likely it is that your bullets will make contact. In one instance, a soldier across the field managed to score a hit, but was taken down in one shot in an automated counterattack. Yet trying to attack nearer enemies was much more difficult. Yet they can still attack you with ease. Often one enemy soldier situated in a trench effectively acted as a sniper, taking down our approaching men with a pistol as we tried to engage the nearest combatant, who we only seemed able to engage by getting up in his face.

Perhaps there is some sort of internal logic here we have yet to be able to figure out. Hindering the process is an overcomplicated menu of options. All the same, we’re marking this one with a ‘caution,’ less for the quality of the game, but more due to the fact that it may call for a certain type of gamer to get the most out of it. Try it if you want, but know that it might drive you insane.

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