Cthulhu Saves the World

The lord of insanity, Cthulhu, has lost his powers and the only way to regain them is by becoming a true hero! Join him on an epic quest of courage, romance, redemption, and insanity! From the makers of the popular RPG, Breath of Death VII: The Beginning. Features 7 playable characters, a 6-10 hour quest, multiple modes & difficulties, branching LV-Ups, an insanity system, over 20 songs, and more!

Just eight months after its first Xbox Indie hit, Zeboyd Games is back with a new RPG adventure which promises more more more of a follow-up to a game which largely succeeded by being less less less than its contemporaries. Zeboyd Games' spring 2010 Xbox Indie hit Breath of Death VII captivated audiences with its slick combat system, swift moving gameplay, and humorous dialogue. Now that engine's on a new adventure, taking Cthulhu on a ride which promises to deliver better graphics, longer gameplay time, and more cosmic aliens than ever before, "ever before" to not exceed the first game.

Cthulhu Saves the World features the eponymous Lovecraftian being on a quest to be a hero after he is robbed of his dark powers. Whereas Breath of Death VII is full of video game references and jokes, Cthulhu Saves the World draws its humor from the ridiculous situation the protagonist finds himself in, the game being a far more character driven outing this time around. A chat option in the menu will allow players to initiate conversation among the current party, and story breaks cut away to amusing Phantasy Star IV style layered cinema scenes. The game is well written and entertaining throughout, but unfortunately the game's charm is largely limited to these sporadic interludes, leaving the game's battles and towns generally bereft of the steady puns and laughter which made Breath of Death VII so much fun to play. I was somewhat disappointed by how lifeless the townsfolk felt this time around, although every once in a while their straight man routine pays off with funny retorts and chatter from Cthulhu and the gang. Players who will burn through the story will not likely notice much of a change in pacing, but those who explore the countryside and partake of the plethora of optional dungeons will find the breaks between dialogue segments to be quite long at times, diminishing the game's steady pacing and charm, particularly when compared to Zeboyd Games' opening release.

Cthulhu Saves the World feels significantly longer thanks to these bonus dungeons, each housing a very good item and an optional, tougher boss monster to fight. The dungeons in general are also larger this time, huge labyrinths which will tax the player's abilities while guiding Cthulhu through their many twists and turns. The game is roughly twice are long as the original game, taking about ten or so hours to complete the main storyline and its optional dungeons. The combat system is largely the same as in Zeboyd Games' first RPG with magic, techniques, team attack moves, and a combo system in place which lets players plow through the limited number of random fights at a rapid pace while still offering plenty of options. New to the game is the ability to affect enemies' sanity, as R'lyeh's favorite son is said to drive all who look at him insane. Certain special attacks and passive abilities will drive enemies insane, altering their appearance and making them more or less challenging to battle depending upon the enemy type. It's a neat element to throw into the game, but I found the speedy pacing of the battles made it easy to ignore; it could be of value on the hardest difficulty setting or in one of the bonus modes which unlock upon completion, including a score attack and single player mode. The game also expands the available number of teammates to where players can pick and choose the makeup of their party, and the diversity allowed by this feature is welcomed as well. Weapon and armor options along with experience based upgrades remain as uncluttered as in Breath of Death VII, the developer wisely choosing to not tamper with what worked so well in the first game.

The graphics are largely the same as well, invoking an 8-bit style with some more 16-bit flourishes which are generally regulated to large props found in certain dungeons. The increased color depth is appreciated, but I do wish these touches blended a bit better with the surroundings. It lacks consistency at times, with large set pieces such as the giant trees in the Ghost Forest having a copy and pasted look about them compared to how well structured other dungeons are such as Graveyard of Memories are drawn. The battle graphics are improved with background images this time -- Breath of Death VII's enemies were displayed on top a black void -- but sometimes the added color depth leads to some heavily smeared visuals such as the ditched, blotchy floor during battles in the otherwise impressive looking Marsh Foundry at Innsmouth. Thankfully, these visual gaffs are relatively minor, as the cinematics and dungeon design look significantly better of its predecessor, especially the last few dungeons which are quite beautiful. Most of enemies may lack the silliness of Breath of Death VII's cast, but the game does stick with its Cthulhu theme pretty well, and including insane variants for each enemy type must have been a pain to draw (not to mention that Cthuhlu Saves the World has nearly three times as many enemies). I also enjoy how often the game referenced its source material in its locations and enemies, an otherwise blasphemic game to a Lovecraft fan is treated with care and knowledge, even if it's playing the material for laughs.

Cthulhu Saves the World is a wonderful RPG which offers plenty of gameplay, a great and varied musical score, and the humor and wit I've now come to expect from Zeboyd Games' releases. Though not quite as well paced as the original game due to the myriad bonus dungeons, it's nonetheless a fantastic game which easily shows the developer is in its element with these entertaining RPG gems.

January 30, 2011
December 30, 2010 | 240 points
Developer | Video | Download

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