Kult of Ktulu: Olympic PC Review
Text based adventure is limiting
Video games are inherently a medium of art that requires interaction on part of the viewer, although that level of interaction has changed over the past decades. Originally, this meant just text on a screen, then later it included images, then movies, 3D environments, and now virtual reality has what could be considered the most absorbing way to experience a game. However, text based games have never really gone away, since like books, they have a way of painting a virtual picture in the mind of the observer that always allows for great interactivity from imagination like what can be seen in Kult of Ktulu.
In this newest experience from Grand Cauldron, you guide a 13-year-old girl named Elena who fancies herself a detective, while the player is the voice she can contact from her diary, which leads to more 4th wall breaks than a Deadpool comic. The young girl is on a ship with her family when she notices a crime, and using her magic diary (you) she vows to save the day. Along the way, the mystery deepens and you both encounter some seriously evil folks, and plenty of supernatural dread. It’s an immediately gripping story, because instead of the normal observer you become part of the story as yourself, not as a character which is an ingenious way of getting the player involved.
You get the sense that you’re not controlling the girl, but instead you’re a partner like in law enforcement. You can let her do her own thing, offer advice, or you can tell Elena what to do, but each option has serious consequences which just make the story more interesting. Because of the time period, you get advice from Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and have to investigate Houdini who is also on this boat, so there’s a nice history aspect to explore. Atmosphere is always important in a horror game, and most especially with one based on Lovecraft lore, so description, wordplay, setting, and tone have to be subtle until the time comes to scare the pants off you. That is made all the better with some superior sound design and music that accompany this text based game. While the majority of the game is text based, and read like a diary, there are files that contain bios on all the people involved, and there are parts where you get to visually interact like looking through a peephole, or looking for clues so it’s a point and click and text adventure game.
Because it’s a mystery, I won’t go into details, but it’s easy to recommend this game due to its attention to detail, creepy atmosphere, intelligent dialogue, and mixing so many complimentary genres to make one cohesive story. While the game is not actually that long, it can be played in so many ways over and over that it can feel so much longer. It’s under $10 so it would be worth it to check it out just on the whim of seeing something based on Lovecraft or wanting a good detective story.