When you think of Lovecraft and the Cthulhu Mythos you can’t help but think of helplessness, impending insanity and dark and dreary atmospheres. What you don’t associate with them with is comedy, quick wit and Disney. However, Stuck In Attic’s point-and-click title Gibbous – A Cthulhu Adventure takes the formula for Cthulhu-inspired games and tosses it out the window into the squid-infested waters that have submerged the lost city of R’lyeh. Instead, the Transylvanian-based developer has crafted a game that is a throwback to the golden days of point and clicks while putting a unique spin on Lovecraft’s works.
When Don met Buzz
Set in Transylvania, Gibbous sees players take on two different roles; one as the gruff private eye Don R Ketype (yes that is his name), who has been hired to track down the notorious Necronomicon book and gets kidnapped by frenzied cultists in the process. The other is Buzz Kerwan, a librarian who stumbles upon the evil tome by pure happenstance and humanises his cat Kitteh (gives the power to talk) after reading from it. Together the trio must protect the Necronomicon from prying cultist hands who wish to use it to raise a slumbering elder god, while finding a way to revert Kitteh back to her normal feline self.
I love point-and-click games – I consider Broken Sword one of my favourite series of all time, but it’s been a while since one game has really captivated me. From the opening sequence you get a feeling that Gibbous is going to be something memorable and thankfully it’s for all the right reasons. The game’s comedic schtick is apparent from the get-go and it works perfectly thanks to some solid writing which really lets the characters shine and stand out. It makes for a nice change seeing as most Lovecraftian games focus more on atmosphere and losing your marbles than character personality.
Every character, whether it’s Buzz, Don, a crazy hotel receptionist or a smooth-talking coachman is aptly written and performed. They don’t nail every line, but they all feel like they belong in this hybrid Transylvanian Lovecraft universe. The best part is that it is genuinely a funny game – the exchanges between Buzz and an irritated Kitteh are great value, while Don embodies his last name by being out of touch with everything technological, preferring to kick it old school. The game doesn’t take itself too seriously, often taking slight jabs at video games and the stereotypes championed by the media, as well as playful digs at Romania.
It is Lovecraft after all
Given the style of game it’s unsurprising to learn that a lot of the time is spent engaged in dialogue. While these sequences are mostly enjoyable and propel the story forward, there’s a couple times where they definitely feel like they drag on for far too long.
Another one of Gibbous’ biggest assets is its beautiful artwork – it’s almost hard to fathom that a Lovecraft game could feature vibrant and colourful backdrops, but the Transylvanian developers bring Gibbous to colourful life thanks to over 60 stunning hand-drawn environments. Everything from the character designs to the way they interact with one another to the writing all feels like I’m playing a game set inside a Disney film of yore.
From a gameplay perspective it’s a traditional point-and-click game. Players will have to inspect a number of items within an environment and make sense of everything, whether by looking at it or picking it up. Given Kitteh’s newfound voice box, Buzz can ask the attitudinal feline for help or advice – however be prepared to be met with some sass. One slight downside is that while there’s a myriad of items to examine, some of them feel pointless and without any real purpose. A grievance I do have is that there is a lack of controller support, something I hope is addressed in the future.
It wouldn’t be a traditional point and click without puzzles and thankfully they are featured in spades. Whether it’s an item-based puzzle where Buzz or Don will have to combine and use items as a solution or a puzzle that requires a bit more lateral thinking, Gibbous paces the puzzles out well enough that you feel constantly tested but without feeling overwhelmed. It also helps that the majority of the puzzles are simple enough and don’t bog you down for too long.
Playing through Gibbous – A Cthulhu Adventure made me realise how much I miss this type of adventure game. It does a fantastic job of taking the world of Lovecraft and turning it into something unique and memorable, thanks to a gorgeous art style and well-written characters. If you’ve got a point-and-click itch that needs scratching, then Gibbous may be the remedy you’ve been waiting for.
Reviewed on PC // Review code supplied by publisher