I bought this game for $14.99, although it is on sale for the next 11 days for half that price.http://www.eldritchgame.com/
What is this game? As you can see from the screenshots, it looks smiliar to minecraft with the simple graphics and terrain mostly made of blocks. I have never played minecraft so I can't compare too much. The game is what's called a "roguelike", a genre of roleplaying games that typically feature simple graphics (if at all! Many consists of nothing but ASCII symbols!) and permadeath. Eldritch takes some elements from this genre and mixes it with the cosmic horror of H.P. Lovecraft's Cthulhu Mythos, retaining a rather whimsical style for the visuals, especially the monsters.
You start off in a library which is sort of like a hub from where you can enter different dimensions/locales. Each world has it's own monsters and overall looks, such as nautical/djungle looks for Cthulhu's realm, with what looks like Star Spawns sleeping peacyfully on the floor until you disturb them, and Flying Polyps. Anyway, the worlds consists of 3 levels which are all randomly generated from pre-made chunks, so while you will start to recognize the chunks, the way they are connected, and thus the route to the exit, is different each playthrough.
How you reach the exit is up to you; You could either go straight towards it if you have a compass item, or explore every chunk to pick up as much stuff as possible. Lying around the levels are artifacts, bluish discs that are used to pay for items you can buy in shops scattered throughout the levels, and to use your special item, of which you can have one at a time. These are things like a medkit so you can revive yourself for a hefty fee, locksmith kits to open locked doors without needing a key, and so on. You also can carry one amulet or other small item like the compass mentioned above; for example, the amulet of destruction lets your destroy walls with your normal gun. Speaking of which, there are also weapons to be found: You always have your fists, but there's also a knife, a revolver with limited ammo, and a crossbow that lets you create tripwire traps. The final "item" option are the special powers that get bestowed onto you if you pray at one of several different statues of the old ones; a teleport spell, cloak spell, create block spell, and more. The right combination of all these things is very important, of course, with some stuff being more useful and some less so.
At the end of each world is an orb you have to pick up and then you can go back to the library to tackle the next dimension. Once all three orbs are collected, the gate to the final dimension opens. If you die only one time (which will happen often since health replenishments become scarcer the farther your progress in the game), and you have no medkit or enough artifacts to revive, you will go back to the library, losing all orbs and other progress (all worlds are created anew), and all artifacts that were not stored in a special deposit box.
So how does it play? It's certainly fun and has quite some replayability value. While the first world is a walk in the park and serves mainly for you to stock up on artifacts, health and revolver ammo, the second and third world quickly become very difficult if you just race through the levels. The enemies become dangerous enough for a stealthy approach to be viable instead of wasting your precious ammo, and since dead enemies that are not looted won't respawn, you'll find yourself only killing what's neccessary, and not looting any strong monsters so you won't have to fight them again later. After playing the game a few times (and probably failing miserably), you'll get the hang of things and start to think about your approach: Which levels should I run through, what are the best items for my play style, how to deal with each monster type?
Yesterday, a free bonus campaign was released (it gets added automatically via Steam) that is based on "At the Mountains of Madness", where you have to travel deep into an ancient city in the Antarctic. I played this campaign right after beating the main game, and boy is it an experience! I won't spoil too much, but in the last 15 minutes, your heart will pound and your eyes will be fixed on the monitor until you finally reach the aeroplane and leave the cursed stretch of land.
While the presentation of Eldritch is very simple as far as textures, models, and soundscape goes, and most monsters looking somewhat cute, you'll soon find out that as far as gameplay goes, it's pretty intense, with the occasional jumpscare if you round a corner right into an Elder Thing, or when you first hear a Shoggoth's loud roar in the distance. Scary!
It's certainly not a hard-core Lovecraftian game and only a very basic story mostly told in diaries and notebooks you find here and there, but for this price I can recommend it both to Cthulhu and roguelike fans alike.
Some tips to save you some early deaths in the game: (SPOILERS!)
- Best item combination:
-- compass (lets you find the exit easily if you have to make a run for it)
-- Medkit (reviving costs 50 artifacts, but having more than one life makes the game a whole lot easier!)
-- Create barrier spell (good look beating the second world without it; once you encounter the statues that attack you if you don't look at them, just cast blocks around them!)
- Use the first world (Dagon) to search every nook and cranny for ammo, artifacts and especially the blue fountains that increase your max health. I recommend at least 6 health before entering the final dimension. Also visit every shop until you can buy the Medkit. You can just shoot the shopkeeper a few times in Dagon's world to take all his stuff, but watch out for the fireballs he casts.
- I haven't been able to kill the Shoggoths that appear in the third level, I think they can'd be harme. If you see one, run as fast as you can and try to reach higher ground, then take a route around it.
- Use you knife as much as possible; Wait behind a corner for a monster to come, then quickly slash it a few times and retreat again if it isn't dead yet. You will need all the ammo you can get later in the game for monsters with ranged attacks and especially the Flying Polyps.
- Consider storing your surplus artifacts in the bank chest the first few times you are playing; this way you won't lose it all if you die.
- Use dynamite to blast a hole in floors and walls to reach the exit, but remember to pick you knife up again afterwards.
- Don't loot dead monsters that have ranged attacks and are hard to kill, especially not Star Spawns, Flying Polyps, red bugs and Lizardmen. Cultists are free game because they die after two knife slashes and they take a long time to cast their fireball spell.
- Use your revolver for these hard-to-kill ranged-attack monsters.
- In the third world, consider sneaking around sleeping Star Spawns instead of wasting ammo on them. If they are alone, you can also sneak up on them and quickly slash them with your knife before they have woken up completely.