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Lovecraftian Digital Games

In 1987, the first Lovecraft-influenced computer game, The Lurking Horror was published. Since then, Lovecraftian digital games have evolved from text adventures to point-and-click adventures to first-person shooters. (Note that links on game names lead to VideoGameGeek).

Alone in the Dark (Infogrames, 1992)
This well-crafted game takes place in a Louisiana mansion beset with Lovecraftian horrors. The elegant interface, cinematic points of view, melodious soundtrack, and spooky atmosphere broke new ground. Other games followed in the Alone in the Dark series, but only this first one contained Lovecraftian elements. (Purchase for PC on CD-ROM from Amazon.com or Half.com, for PC on 3.5" disk from Amazon.com, or for 3DO from Amazon.com or Half.com.)
Anchorhead (Michael S. Gentry, 1998)
An award-winning interactive fiction game set in a New England town near—but also clearly inspired by—Lovecraft’s Arkham. You’ve just moved to Anchorhead and investigate the history of your husband’s odd family. Though designed for personal computers running Inform interpreters, you may play Anchorhead online at the People’s Republic of Interactive Fiction.
Arcane, The Online Mystery Serial (Sarbakan, 1998–2001)
An episodic point-and-click “interactive horror/mystery adventure” game played on the web. You take on the roles of three 1920s investigators trying to foil the Elder Star Society’s plot to conjure an ancient entity. You may play all 12 episodes at GamesXL.com.
Call of Cthulhu: Dark Corners of the Earth (Headfirst Productions, Bethesda Softworks, and 2K Games; 2005)
A first-person horror adventure game based loosely on Lovecraft’s “The Shadow over Innsmouth”. The game’s lack of a heads-up display and “Dynamic Sanity” system led to a highly immersive experience. Two follow-up games, Destiny’s End and Beyond the Mountains of Madness, were planned but ultimately canceled. (Purchase for PC from Amazon.com or Half.com or for Xbox from Amazon.com or Half.com.)
Call of Cthulhu: The Wasted Land (Red Wasp Design, 2012)
Set during World War I, this turn-based strategy game is based on the Call of Cthulhu roleplaying game. You control a team of soldiers and occult investigators who must face a host of Lovecraftian entities on the battlefields of Europe. (Purchase for Android from Amazon.com or for PC from Amazon.com.)
Cthulhu Realms (White Wizard Games, 2016)
A digital version of the deck-building card game Cthulhu Realms. Drive your computer opponent insane with entity, artifact, and location cards. The application also includes single-player missions, a pass-and-play mode, and online player-versus-player.
Dark Mysteries: The Soul Keeper (Cerasus Media and Big Fish Games, 2012)
A point-and-click and hidden-object game with attractive artwork and a strong narrative. The hidden-object puzzles are thematic, though the endgame is far too reliant on them. The game claims to be based on The Case of Charles Dexter Ward, but shares little more with it than the characters of Ward and Curwen, and the town (here, island) of Pawtuxet. (Purchase Standard Edition for PC from Amazon.com, Standard Edition for Mac from Amazon.com, Collector’s Edition for PC from Amazon.com, Collector’s Edition for PC on DVD from Amazon.com, or Collector’s Edition for Mac from Amazon.com.)
Daughter of Serpents (Eldritch Games, Millennium Interactive, and Electronic Arts; 1992)
Set in Alexandria, this visually attractive point-and-click adventure is rich with Egyptian and Lovecraftian atmosphere, even though the box gives no indication that it has any connection at all to Lovecraft. The instruction manual includes a two-page biography of Lovecraft, as well as a short, paper-based roleplaying adventure, “The Alchemist of Istanbul”. (Purchase from Amazon.com.)
Digital Pinball: Necronomicon (KAZe, 1996)
The second (and last) of KAZe’s Digital Pinball series, Necronomicon includes three tables: “Arkham”, “Cult of the Bloody Tongue”, and “Dreamlands”. John Petrucci, guitarist for Dream Theater, wrote the music for the game’s prologue and epilogue videos. (Purchase for Sega Saturn from Amazon.com or Half.com.)
Elder Sign: Omens (Fantasy Flight Games, 2013)
A digital implementation of the board game Elder Sign. You conjure glyphs in the hopes of getting combinations that will resolve tasks and complete adventures. The object is to collect enough Elder Signs before the Ancient One awakens. (Purchase for Android from Amazon.com.)
Eldritch (Minor Key Games, 2013)
A first-person “roguelike” game with procedurally-generated levels and monsters inspired by Lovecraft. You explore dungeons, killing monsters and collecting upgrades, weapons, spells, and artifacts to advance to more difficult levels and creatures.
Eternal Darkness: Sanity’s Requiem (Silicon Knights and Nintendo, 2002)
The game’s storyline revolves around the “Ancients”—Ulyaoth, Xel’lotath, Chattur’gha, and Mantorok—which have been imprisoned until the time is right for their return. The Tome of Eternal Darkness is reminiscent of the Necronomicon, several characters are from Providence, Rhode Island, one of the characters is an Inspector Legrasse, and the game explicitly mentions Lovecraft. The ingenious sanity and magic systems help make this one of the best Lovecraftian games. (Purchase for GameCube from Amazon.com or Half.com.)
Ghost Towns: The Cats of Ulthar (taba games and Big Fish Games, 2012)
A point-and-click and hidden-object game in which you must save young Menes from being tried for murder! Though the characters from “The Cats of Ulthar” are here, an opportunity was missed by not keeping the original fantasy setting. The puzzles aren’t thematic and the end-game tiresomely involves going back and forth from one end of the map to the other.
Haunted Hotel: Charles Dexter Ward (Specialbit Studios and Big Fish Games, 2012)
A point-and-click and hidden-object game in which your brother, Charles Dexter Ward, has been captured by John (rather than Joseph) Curwen. The game includes a few nods to Lovecraft, including an appearance of the Necronomicon, but borrows very little from The Case of Charles Dexter Ward. The Collector’s Edition includes an extra “chapter” which is actually more Lovecraftian than the main game! (Purchase Collector’s Edition for PC from Amazon.com.)
The Hound of Shadow (Eldritch Games and Electronic Arts, 1989)
This game takes place in England in the 1920s and the box invites you to “Enter the sinister world of H.P. Lovecraft.” This is primarily a text-only adventure game with some occasional graphics. The instruction manual includes a two-page biography of Lovecraft.
Kingsport Festival (iNigma and Sir Chester Cobblepot, 2015)
An Android and iOS version of the board game, which itself is based on the designer’s earlier board game, Kingsburg. Vie against computer opponents for the favors of various Mythos beings to gain domain cubes, purchase spells, and increase your power in the town of Kingsport.
Lovecraft Country (Skotos, 2005)
An online, text-based, MUD (multi-user dungeon) game set in Arkham, as envisioned in Chaosium’s Call of Cthulhu. You act as a student at Miskatonic University and interact both with other players and non-player characters. The main game is called “Arkham by Night” but separate sub-games, such as “In the Tomb of the Desert God”, allow you to go on expeditions in other locales.
The Lurking Horror (Infocom, 1987)
Trapped at night during a snowstorm on the campus of G.U.E. Tech (modeled after Cambridge’s MIT), you struggle against horrible entities that lurk in the tunnels beneath the school. The back of the box states that “THE LURKING HORROR recalls the ghastly visions of H.P. Lovecraft and Stephen King...” Although no overt Lovecraft references are made in the game, the tone of this classic text adventure game is very Lovecraftian.
Magrunner: Dark Pulse (3 AM Games and Focus Home Interactive, 2013)
A first-person puzzle game set in a futuristic environment. As Dax C. Ward, you begin in a sanitized training environment, but a malfunction occurs and the appearance of the facility turns sinister. More Lovecraftian elements are layered on as the game continues.
The Moaning Words (byook, 2014)
A combination of a simple collectible card game, a choose-your-own-adventure game, and illustrated riddles. The story elements of the game were written by sci-fi author Alan Dean Foster. Though the full game is only available for iOS, a stripped-down version, The Moaning Words: Duels, is available for Android.
Mystery Stories: Mountains of Madness (Big Fish Games, 2011)
Set in the Antarctic, this point-and-click adventure game is peppered with occasional hidden-object puzzles. Although a bit primitive compared to most adventure games, the graphics are very attractive and the puzzles fit the setting. The game includes quite a few elements from At the Mountains of Madness and is probably the best of its type. (Purchase for Android from Amazon.com, for PC from Amazon.com, or for Mac from Amazon.com.)
Necronomicon (Games of Cthulhu, 2008)
Cards are used to attack your computer opponent directly, conjure monsters, and heal your character. A second “edition”, called The Necronomicon: Book of Dead Names, allows for a character, a tome, up to four creatures, a location, and an item to remain in play, and also includes three Great Old Ones. You may play the first edition or you may play the second edition at Kongregate.com.
The Necronomicon (Lucidsphere Media, 2010)
Another solitaire card game, but rather than playing against a computer opponent, this is more of a puzzle in which cards drawn from a deck are played into a limited choice of positions. Investigators can be augmented by allies and weapons to more easily defeat monsters. (Purchase for Android from Amazon.com.)
Necronomicon: The Gateway to Beyond (Wanadoo and DreamCatcher Interactive, 2001)
A point-and-click adventure set in 1920s Providence and Pawtuxet, Rhode Island, and based on Lovecraft’s The Case of Charles Dexter Ward—but with all the character names changed. The game’s title in Europe was Necronomicon: The Dawning of Darkness. (Purchase for PC from Amazon.com or Half.com or for Mac from Amazon.com.)
Prisoner of Ice (Infogrames, 1995)
Something monstrous is discovered frozen in the Antarctic ice and you must prevent the Nazis from releasing it. The game takes clear inspiration from Lovecraft’s At the Mountains of Madness and the box invites you to “defeat Cthulhu and save the world.” (Purchase for PC from Amazon.com or Half.com or for Mac from Amazon.com.)
Robert D. Anderson & The Legacy of Cthulhu (Homegrown Games and JoWooD Productions Software, 2007)
A first-person shooter with some puzzles in which you gun down Nazis and occultists in a German castle. The Lovecraftian elements are negligible in this poorly-designed, buggy, fan-made game. (Purchase for PC from Amazon.com.)
The Scroll (Millennium Interactive and Nova Spring, 1995)
Like Daughter of Serpents, this game is also set in Alexandria and uses many of the same graphics, thus appearing to be the same game. However, this has additional scenes and plot elements, and might be better thought of as a second “edition”. The box explicitly mentions Nyarlathotep, but not Lovecraft. (Purchase for PC from Amazon.com.)
Shadow of the Comet (Infogrames and I-Motion, 1993)
Created by the same group that made the original Alone in the Dark, this game uses a more traditional point-and-click adventure interface. Taking place in the New England town of “Illsmouth” in 1910, you must discover the relation between the return of Halley’s Comet and the “resurgence of the Great Ancients.” (Purchase for PC from Amazon.com or Half.com.)
Sherlock Holmes: The Awakened (Frogwares and Focus Home Interactive, 2006)
In this point-and-click adventure game, kidnappings by a cult devoted to Cthulhu take Holmes and Watson to an asylum in Switzerland, then to New Orleans, and finally to a lighthouse in Scotland. (Purchase for PC from Amazon.com or Half.com or Remastered Edition for PC from Amazon.com.)
Sons of Uruzime (Tin Man Games and Gamebook Adventures, 2015)
A digital “choose-your-own-adventure” book set in Arkham and on the campus of Miskatonic University. You are a professor looking into the disappearance of a student and end up investigating a sinister cult. Your choices are limited by your skill and your sanity. (Purchase for Android from Amazon.com.)
X-COM: Terror from the Deep (MicroProse, 1995)
The spaceship T’leth crashed on earth 65 million years ago, imprisoning the Great Dreamer. Now the Deep Ones are attempting to awaken him, “the ultimate alien whose darkness will engulf the globe.” Steve Goss, Project Manager of Hothouse Creations Ltd., had the following to say about Lovecraft’s influence on the game:
Yup you’re dead right we couldn’t get copyright clearance on the Cthulhu names (R’lyeh and the like) so I monkeyed around and gave them “almost” names and types. The Deeps ones are straight from Lovecraft, the other creatures display features similar to well known creatures in the mythos. The Great Dreamer is there, his head (replete with tentacles) is in the casket at the end of the maze.
Goss admits to being a fan of Lovecraft and says that, despite the Lovecraftian elements in the game, “It was never meant to be really hardcore Cthulhu...” (Purchase for PC from Amazon.com or Half.com.)
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Page Last Revised 13 August 2016
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