Eldritch is finally out of beta and has made its way to Steam thanks to a successful Greenlight campaign. To a casual observer browsing the Steam, it may seem like the game is promising a lot. Ripped from the Steam store page, Eldritch is described by the developers (twin brothers and co-founders of Minor Key Games David and Kyle Pittman) as a first-person action game inspired by roguelikes, immersive sims, and H. P. Lovecraft. Could there truly be a game as amazing this? Find out after the break!
After investing a number of hours in the beta for Eldritch, if I had to describe it in one word, that word would be intense! Being a roguelike, perma-death is an ever-looming threat, but Eldritch’s commitment to an immersive environment draws the player its the mysterious world. The game pulls inspiration from works of H.P. Lovecraft, so right out of the gates you’ll be facing eerie other-worldly creatures ranging from the happy hopping fishmen, to the nondescript standard issue cultists, and the un-killable horror-slug (which may or may not be a Shoggoth)
And it’s not just what you see in Eldritch that pulls you into the world. As soon as you enter the Realm of Dagon the creepy background music beings to play, and the world around you comes to life. You can hear the distant murmurs of unknown creatures as they wander around their randomly-generated prison. Even more than that, you can hear them interacting with the world and with each other. Mobs open doors and will even occasionally fight one another, and may even do so out when you’re on the other side of the level, meaning that you’re likely to come across a corpse or two that you didn’t have anything to do with.
The game’s varied cast of Lovecraftian creatures keeps the game interesting. Being a roguelike, Eldritch isn’t afraid to let you die over and over again if you’re not willing to learn from your mistakes, and this is one of the things that really drew me into the game. Each of the books that you enter are prisons, each containing the soul of an ancient, powerful creature, and each level is distinctly different. While there are some recurring enemies (the cultists, for instance, appear in all three books) each new realm also has creatures that are unique to that level, and each of them is horrifying in their own special way.
For instance, some of the enemies in Eldritch are simply unkillable, and either take no damage or simply come back to life after being struck down. The game even features its own version of a Weeping Angel, a creature that turns to stone when you gaze upon it, but comes to life the moment you turn your back on it. Facing unknown and sometimes unkillable beasts imposes upon you the frailty of your existence in a world which you do not belong.
While games like Amnesia and Outlast are able to draw you into their world by playing upon a sense of fear, those games consist of very little else and feel more like highly-interactive stories. Eldritch, however, manages to marry mysterious and scary themes with solid core gameplay. Movement around the world feels tight and you really get a sense of speed as you run around the environment, leaping from place to place and pulling off the occasional power slide.
It’s not just the fast movement that makes it great though, as stealth is always a viable option. Crouching allows you to walk without making as much noise (with is extremely helpful once you enter the third book) and allows you to sneak up on enemies, performing deadly back-stabs.
Whether you prefer a ‘Run & Gun’ or ‘Sneaky Stabby’ approach to the game, the combat is great. In all the time I’ve played I haven’t seen an obvious advantage to one over the other, and when playing Eldritch I truly feel like I’m in control and can do whatever I want, play however I want. Each play style has its own advantages and drawbacks and in the spirit of roguelikes inspires multiple playthroughs to try different things out.
Eldritch creates a mysterious and often terrifying fun house and gives you the tools to do pretty much whatever you’d and it’s one of those games where the experiences you create yourself are what keep you coming back. It reminds me in part of larger sandbox games like Just Cause 2 and more recently Grand Theft Auto 5 and Saints Row 4 where players have once-in-a-lifetime experiences just playing around in the open world, and it’s these experiences that keep me coming back for more.
I’ve been playing on the edge of my seat more times than I can count while playing Eldritch, and every time it’s different. Whether it’s because I’m down to my last heart or because you blew a hole in the wall with dynamite and unleashed a wave of enemies upon yourself, the game has a habit of stressing me out way more than most games I’ve played recently, and I love that.
Eldritch provides an intense, immersive experience that keeps you coming back for more randomly generated dungeon crawling goodness. It’s great fun for both new to the roguelike genre as well as the hardcore veterans who were playing roguelikes before they had graphics. Eldritch’s New Game+ mode will test even the most venerable of dungeon delvers and newbies will be able to enjoy the game without getting frustrated as long as they remember the most important thing about roguelikes: Losing is Fun!
Eldritch is out on Steam, or buy it directly from the devs via the Humble Store. Through the Humble Store you still get a Steam key plus the devs get a little bit more for each copy sold than they would through Steam.
You can check out the Launch Trailer below if you need any more convincing that it’s worth your time.