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Cthulhu Saves the World Review

Review; Aug. 2, 2011; Channels: Video Games; By Kyle James Hovanec
The Lord of Chaos and Destruction is on a quest to become a hero -- you get to come along for the ride

Cthulhu Saves the World is the second 2-D RPG to be published by Zeboyd Games after Breath of Death VII: The Beginning. Like the previous title, CSTW borrows from the 2-D JRPGs of old -- the Final Fantasies, the Chrono Triggers and the Lufias with their top-down world exploration and 2-D battle screens. In fact, at first glance, CSTW looks very much like Breath of Death VII. Before you panic about this being a lack of innovation and a simple rehash, rest assured it's anything but, and Zeboyd Games has once again knocked another one out of the park.

Cthulhu Saves the World Screenshots
Click the image to view game screenshots

The game begins with our favorite ancient lord of chaos and destruction emerging from the sea to bring about a new age of chaos and destruction, only to be immediately cursed by a mysterious wizard who, with the help from our game’s narrator, explains that the only way for Cthulhu to gain back his powers is to travel across the land and become a “true hero” by performing good deeds. Cthulhu, who also has the amazing ability to break the fourth wall, overhears the narrator and sets off on a journey to get them back.

If you haven’t picked it up by now, CSTW is not the serious, save-the-world-and-restore-peace storyline that most games in this genre are known for. While the main storyline has recognizable traits from RPGs, the game takes each and every trope known to the genre and turns it on its head. Headstrong hero with a sense of duty? Not here; Cthulhu is a shameless opportunist who uses any instance of misery to further his goals. The people who join your party along the way -- including a young girl who falls madly in love with Cthulhu (tentacles and all) and a talking sword -- are just as eccentric (and, in some cases, mentally unstable) as Cthulhu. Thanks to the sharp writing, the characters interact wonderfully with one another, often playing off of each pun and joke seamlessly into the next one. It’s not often that you can credit a game for having strong dialog and writing, but here it's extremely well done and whether it's the main cast or the NPC characters that populate the villages, everyone is a clever punchline waiting to happen. 

The game play is your standard, traditional RPG fare. Battles consist of random enemy encounters within dungeons and in the overworld map, with a boss battle at the end of each dungeon. During these random battles, you’ll have a standard assortment of spells, physical attacks and summons to use on your enemies. The twist comes after the battles, while leveling your characters. Each character is given the option of additional experience points in certain areas such as stamina or HP. These bonuses come in three choices and are generated at random. While this initially seemed haphazard at first, it provided an interesting way to level up later on in the game. It was actually fun to see what choices you’d end up with and how much you could go against the traditional classes reserved for RPGs. After a few battles, you can have a healer become a brute force powerhouse, or your main attacker can suddenly become your party healer by choosing the respective random experience points. The points that shape these roles are significant but never to a point that you can't turn back. It’s fun and random to play this way, but if you want to go a more traditional route, you can do that too.

If only the enemies showed as much creativity. Your standard assortment of monsters are present. As crazy and off the wall the game is, I was hoping for a little more from the enemy design, but it never goes further than what most RPG fans have been fighting since the genre’s inception. There’s some variety to be found in the bosses, a majority of them based off of HP Lovecraft’s Cthulhu Mythos, but they appear far less frequently than the run-of-the-mill enemies.

I also wish the game were a little longer. I clocked in at about six hours, a decent length for a normal modern game, but way too short for an RPG. Those six hours were an absolute blast but seemed to pass way too quickly. A few more story and side quests could have easily fixed this problem.

Currently, Cthulhu Saves the World can be bought for a price less than that of a lunch special or a good cup of coffee. Even if this game were available at full price, I would still give it a high recommendation. From the off-the-wall, self-aware humor, snappy dialog and free wheeling leveling mechanics, this was the buddy-road-trip of RPGs with its random adventures, funny characters, and a constant need to keep playing if only to see what kind of trouble the characters get into next. There are not enough games with well-written dialog or a sincere sense of humor. For those who love indie titles, classic RPGs or just a refreshing change pace of modern titles, this game is for you. And with such a low price point, there is literally zero reason not to pick this up. 

*Editor's Note: OMGN received a free review copy of the game for this article.

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Review Score
8.8

Not Rated by ESRB

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