Horror inspired by H.P. Lovecraft, or “cosmic horror,” as it’s more generally known, is notoriously difficult to capture on film. As a result, there are just a handful of films and games that dare to take on this style of horror.
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Only a small number of individuals who attempt it succeed in doing it justice and putting it into practice correctly.
If you look deeply into the heart of cosmic terror, you’ll discover immense and unfathomable forces whose nature and purpose are so far beyond human comprehension that just viewing them can make your brain melt and send you insane.
Cosmic horror isn’t about gore, jumpscares, or enormous sea monsters, so it’s easy to see why it’s so hard to get properly and why so few games and films succeed.
We’ve compiled a short list of games that, in our opinion, do a good job at recreating the atmosphere of H.P. Lovecraft’s works of horror, while some games do it better than others.
Call of Cthulhu: Dark Corners of the Earth
Call of Cthulhu: Dark Corners of the Earth is an absolute must-have for any list dedicated to Lovecraftian games. This game from 2005 contains a variety of gameplay components, including typical adventure game investigation, riddles, exploration, and stealth parts, as well as FPS gaming later on.
If you’re in the presence of paranormal events and monsters, your sanity meter depletes and you’ll experience distorted images, hallucinations and difficulty controlling the protagonist.
Additional to that, the game has a more realistic health system that has various negative impacts on the player, such as reduced aim if their arm is damaged. In contrast, a slowed gait and an obvious limp are signs of an injured leg.
Though it’s hard to believe, getting the game to function properly is perhaps the scariest part of Call of Cthulhu: Dark Corners of Earth for most players. The original Xbox version was published in 2001, and the 2006 Windows conversion was buggy, to say nothing of the fact that it’s already almost a decade and a half old.
In any case, Call of Cthulhu: Dark Corners of the Earth is an excellent game and is probably the first one that many people will think of whenever the subject of Lovecraftian games is brought up. Perhaps a little outdated by today’s standards, but it’s still incredibly immersive and worth playing if you can get it to run well.
Our final pick is Bloodborne, a game that represents some of the best examples of contemporary cosmic horror ever created. This is partly due to its minimalist approach to storytelling, which depends on cryptic dialogue, item descriptions, and contextual hints to convey the message.
Enormous spires in the gothic metropolis of Yharnam are just one part of an impressively diverse landscape that includes gloomy forests, terrifying caves and otherworldly levels that don’t seem to fit into our reality.
That being said, Bloodborne is an action RPG with a combat system and gameplay formula based on that of Dark Souls, which makes it a “Souls-like” game on this front. Thus, Bloodborne is a challenging game that demands players to adapt to the game’s systems. For anyone unfamiliar with the gameplay elements of the Dark Souls series, there is a steep learning curve to endure.
However, if you’re not adept at action games in general, you should probably skip on this one because of its difficulty, which will almost certainly leave you frustrated.
Amnesia: The Dark Descent
As a horror classic released in 2010, Amnesia: The Dark Descent influenced the 2010s horror scene with some of its innovations.
Unlike other horror games, this one doesn’t offer any kind of combat, making the player incredibly exposed and limiting their options when it comes to battling the monsters lurking in the old medieval castle.
Additional survival horror mechanics are included in the game, which are comparable to those found in Call of Cthulhu: Dark Corners of the Earth. To restore the meter, doing tasks and staying away from the dark are better than seeing magical happenings and looking at creatures. But the player must be mindful of how they use their tinderboxes and lamp oil because light is a finite resource.
As a result, if you haven’t played Amnesia yet, you owe it to yourself to play the classic before the release of Amnesia: Rebirth to experience the tale and the otherworldly force that stalks the protagonist for the majority of the game.
The Sinking City
When it comes to authentically recreating many aspects of Lovecraft’s stories, the action-adventure game The Sinking City does a fantastic job. According to the game’s title, Oakmont is a fictional metropolis that’s slowly sinking into the ocean and heavily influenced by Lovecraft’s tale, The Shadow over Innsmouth..
As a P.I. recruited to investigate the unusual events taking place in Oakmont, The Sinking City places a heavy emphasis on detective work rather than combat. However, unlike most games of this sort, The Sinking City includes an open world and even a combat system, though, as mentioned, combat isn’t the focus.
The player’s progress in the game will be affected by how meticulous the player is in gathering and evaluating clues. Although ammo conservation is vital in Oakmont due to the fact that bullets serve as cash, missed shots are a waste of money.
Finally, The Sinking City isn’t a perfect game, and it earned mixed reviews from reviewers. The game’s world-building, ambiance, open-ended gameplay, and plot have all received high praise, but combat has been criticized as one of the game’s weak points.
You’ll probably love The Sinking City if you enjoy mysteries and have the time and attention span necessary to play it. In contrast, if you love action games or straight-forward horror, this is probably not the game for you.
Next up, we have Darkwood, a top-down survival horror game that’s sure to leave a lasting impression. Minimalist and evocative narrative perfectly complements the unsettling graphic style and characters that feel like they came directly out of some dark and twisted fairy tale.
At the beginning of each day, the player must go out into the world to gather materials and weapons in order to progress the story. Nightfall brings the need to fortify their fortified positions with traps and barricades in order to ward off any intruders.
Darkwood’s fighting and overall gameplay formula aren’t overly complex, and they don’t require much practice to master. That being said, the most impressive aspects of the Darkwood’s world-building are the evocative atmosphere and the nuanced tale.
Even if you don’t play through Darkwood, you can be sure that the experience will linger with you long after the final credits have rolled.
In Sunless Sea, the player takes command of a steamship and sets out to explore the enormous deep sea (or “Unterzee,” as the game refers to it) while building a unique character with unique skills, weaknesses, and aspirations. Sunless Sea is a survival horror RPG.
There are two “layers” of gameplay in Sunless Sea. This game has two major components: first, there is a story element, in which players interact with characters and make decisions on where the plot should go next. Two things to take in mind when navigating the Zee and engaging in combat: your ship’s fuel and hull integrity, as well as your crew’s hunger and sanity levels.
Open sandbox gameplay allows the player to play in any way they like, usually in compliance with their captain’s goal, which is what they must accomplish to win the game. Although Sunless Sea has a lot of replay potential, it may take some time to get your feet wet.
Lovecraftian inspirations are subtle, as they should be; if you’re a lover of old RPG games and don’t mind reading a lot, Sunless Sea is for you. Sunless Skies, the sequel to the first game, is definitely worth a look if you enjoy the original.
Despite the game’s concentration on narrative, Cultist Simulator’s gameplay mechanics are far from what you may expect.
The game’s mechanics are based on playing cards. The player can perform a variety of tasks, such as working, studying, dreaming, etc., and each requires a different type of card. As soon as an action card is played in a slot designated for it, a timer is activated, and when the timer expires, the tale progresses.
There’s a learning curve to this game because of the variety of cards and resources you’ll need to keep track of in order to play effectively. But once you get the hang of it, Cultist Simulator is an entertaining and unusual experience. If you’re a fan of role-playing games and card games, and don’t mind reading a lot, this is the game for you.
The Vanishing of Ethan Carter
It’s time for The Vanishing of Ethan Carter, the final game on the list. “Walking simulator” is a word widely used to characterize games that offer little to no interactivity and don’t require the player to do much more than stroll forward to advance the story.
Despite the lack of action and only one stealth area, the game does include a number of riddles that must be solved in order to complete it. It’s not just murder scenes that are the focus of these puzzles, but other types of mysteries as well. In the event that a puzzle is completed, the player is rewarded with further story information.
As a whole, The Vanishing of Ethan Carter is a magnificent-looking game with excellent graphics (especially in the upgraded, Unreal Engine 4 version), and it’s an atmospheric, lonely adventure with Lovecraftian undertones. However, as is often the case with games of this type, many players found it too linear and/or short for their comfort, but it will reward the patient player who knows how to immerse themselves in a game.
Moons of Madness
Moons of Madness is the first game in the series to take place in space — specifically, on Mars. However, there are a few simple tech tasks to complete throughout the game, since the player is a solitary engineer who is tasked with maintaining a Mars station operational.
However, aside from the aforementioned challenges, this is a typical story-focused adventure game, and as such, it offers little in the way of gameplay variety. In addition, because it is brief and linear, there isn’t much incentive to play it again.
Overall, Moons of Madness isn’t groundbreaking, but it’s still worth playing if you’re a fan of Lovecraftian horror because it has a great atmosphere and beautiful graphics.
Unlike Moons of Madness, Conarium is a Lovecraft-inspired adventure game set in Antarctica rather than space. Those who have read Lovecraft’s novella At the Mountains of Madness will undoubtedly discover some resemblances to this film.
Playability-wise, Conarium is very much in the same mold as the Moons of Madness video game. While it has all the same advantages and disadvantages as Moons of Madness, it’s a story-focused adventure game with the same drawbacks.
Even while Conarium has had a mixed reception, the same can be said for Moons of Madness: it has excellent graphics and an eerie ambiance, so if you’re a fan of Lovecraft, it’s worth checking out.
Our list ends with Sundered, a 2D Metroidvania with roguelike features that defies expectations when it comes to addressing themes of cosmic dread.
In terms of gameplay, if you’ve played any Metroidvania before, you’ll recognize the drill: you explore the levels, perform some platforming, and take out various types of foes. As you go, you’ll gain new powers that allow you to access previously inaccessible regions and improve your combat prowess.
The unpredictable nature of Sundered can be both a blessing and a curse. A few of the levels are generated procedurally, which means that they change every time the player dies. However, most players will agree that procedurally generated levels lack the same amount of immersion as those that have been hand-crafted. Additionally, the game has a random swarm of attackers, which might keep you on your toes, but it can also become boring and result in some annoying deaths.
While it may not be as fantastic as some of the best Metroidvania games out there, Sundered is still a well-executed game with stunning graphics and some excellent boss fights, as well as Lovecraftian terror.
In most of H.P. Lovecraft’s stories, the protagonist is a human being who accidentally encounters supernatural beings. You play the demon in Carrion. Take command of a fleshy entity with the goal of consuming and destroying everybody who tries to confine you and prevent you from achieving your goals.
For those looking for an immersive platforming experience, this is the game for you. Carrion focuses more on action and level completion than on story.
The Terrible Old Man
Point and click adventure Terrible Old Man is available on Steam for no charge. An version of one of Lovecraft’s short stories, “The Terrible Old Man,” it’s short and charming.
This game lets you put yourself in the shoes of the characters you’ve read about. Ask the residents what they know about the community and what’s to come.
In less than 20 minutes, you’ll find yourself gripped by suspense and terror.
A cult classic and successful horror franchise, Amnesia has been around since 2010. Even though the original game’s appeal has faded, Frictional Games still has the ability to conjure up a sense of terror.
After a plane disaster, a woman wakes up and begins remembering her past. There’s a lot going on here, including a compelling narrative, challenging puzzles, and enough jump scares to last for days. If you prefer a more action-packed experience, there is a setting called Adventure Mode that removes the horror from the game.
Call of The Sea
Call of the Sea is a “walking simulator,” if you will. You’ll spend most of your time walking and experiencing, despite the magnificent landscapes and deep tale. Your character is a grieving wife whose husband perished on a hazardous journey.
You’re likely to come across anomalous and unusual stuff when investigating what happened to your husband. The story takes place in the 1930s, and there are numerous mysteries to solve along the way.
Song of Horror
Like Resident Evil, Song of Horror pays homage to the video game genre. With a camera that doesn’t move as you wander around, it’s a third-person survival horror game. There are numerous riddles to solve, and each decision you make might either save your life or end it.
You must hide behind a door if you want to survive in this game’s deadly monster, who can only be heard and not seen. You can see just how much danger the monster in this game poses. The story of a missing writer and the monsters that lurk in his home is told in the song “Song of Horror.”
Horror games often draw comparisons to Lovecraft’s dark, claustrophobic, and seemingly alone works because of the author’s work’s reputation for originality and uniqueness. As a result, Darkwood is a Lovecraftian horror game, despite the fact that it does not claim any official ties to him.
Darkwood is a top-down viewpoint video game that takes place in a gloomy world where the player can explore a forest area during the day and hide from spooky monsters at night. In both the art and the story, Lovecraftian overtones abound.
World Of Horror
Manga artist Junji Ito and Lovecraft both created universes that some people can’t even conceive, so the combination of the two might not seem all that logical at first. In this black and white, 1-bit horror role-playing game, these two universes collide.
With a typical Lovecraftian premise, the old ones emerge in World of Horror. It is up to the player to navigate an alternate reality using a decision-based system and turn-based warfare.
Moons Of Madness
Is it wrong to read Lovecraft’s work in a contemporary environment, even if it is set in the 1920s? If you’re like Lovecraftian horror, Moons of Madness is a must-have for those who want a sci-fi spin on the genre.
There is a terrible presence aboard the Mars research facility where Shane Newehart works when he begins experiencing weird events and his colleagues disappear. This game is not only visually stunning, but it will also send shivers down the spines of everybody who plays it.
Call Of Cthulhu
Call of Cthulhu, a highly undervalued video game that was launched in 2018, is a must-have for every fan of Lovecraft. It’s the most accurate recreation of Lovecraft’s world since Dark Corners of the Earth, and it’s available on PlayStation 4 and PC. And it doesn’t disappoint in any way.
Assigned to investigate the disappearance of a family on the eerie and isolated Darkwater Island, private investigator Edward Pierce struggles with his own mental health and finds a connection to the paranormal. An RPG based on the classic Call of Cthulhu game, terrifying monsters and references to works like Shadow Over Innsmouth and Pickman’s Model are just some of the Lovecraftian touches in this game.
The Land Of Pain
These indie games are definitely worth the buzz, especially if you’ve played the Call of Cthulhu pen and paper RPG before. After odd events occur in the woods, the main character must survive and figure out what’s going on in this beautiful world.
It’s all about puzzles and exploration, and there’s no fighting in the game. In order to combat the evil that is pursuing them, players must simply live. There are numerous allusions to Lovecraft’s world, such as the phrase “the ancient gods,” which refers to the deities mentioned in Lovecraft’s books. This is a gorgeous game with a huge environment and an engaging plot despite some glitches in the game’s mechanics.
Cthulhu Saves The World
Cthulhu Saves the World, in contrast to the other games on this list, both parodies and honors the original material. You take on the role of the titular beast, which has risen from the sunken city of R’lyeh to enslave the Earth and drive all humans insane. When he gets to Earth, he loses his superhuman abilities, and the only way he can get them back is by saving the world. When the world is saved, he can then destroy it.
Lovecraftian settlements like Dunwich and terrible deities stand in the way of your progress in the 8-bit game.
Like Bloodborne, the Cthulhu mythology serves as inspiration for this game, but it isn’t based on it. You take on the role of Alexandra Roivas, a lady tasked with solving the murder of her grandfather while staying in the estate he owned in Rhode Island.
The Tome of Eternal Darkness and the beings that created it are the focus of the majority of the game’s events. Similar to the Necronomicon, this is a magic-granting book. Your character, like the one in Dark Corners of the Earth, may become insane. In an unusual twist, the game also has the ability to destroy your saved games, in an apparent effort to drive you insane.
The multiplayer modes in Quake are well-known for their smoothness. The game’s single-player narrative, on the other hand, is a celebration of the Cthulhu mythos in general. “Quake” hijacks the government’s teleportation technology, known as “slipgates,” throughout the campaign, which the government has created. Demons are being transported to our realm via their use. You are tasked with destroying all of these devils.
The game incorporates a lot of Satanic imagery, but there are also many allusions to Lovecraft in the gameplay. Nameless City, the Tsathoggua Formless Spawn, and Shub-Niggurath are only a few of the items in the game.
Eldritch is a cross between Minecraft and the Cthulhu mythos, and it’s a lot of fun. In the game, you take on the role of a 1920s-era investigator who sets out to find the Great Old Ones’ spirits through exploring tombs. There are cultists, penguins, and fishmen among the foes, all of which are Lovecraftian.
When it comes to encountering ghastly wanderers, your best bet is to postpone them; you can’t kill them. They also feature an adversary that can blend into the environment and then appear in front of you, causing numerous jump scares. PC Gamer reported on this. If you die, you lose all of your possessions in the game’s dynamically generated environment.
Dec. 1887 is the current date. Fallen London has been transformed into an underworld realm known as the Neath. The surrounding ocean is completely unexplored and hidden beneath the surface. In this game, you take on the role of a steamship captain and must ensure the safety of your crew while exploring the ocean.
Lovecraftian monsters and unearthly buildings are only some of the ocean’s many hidden dangers. The captain’s sanity deteriorates as the ship descends into the depths. You can try again if everyone dies. The islands, on the other hand, will be rearranged, which will alter your gameplay.
Lovecraft’s At the Mountains of Madness is adapted in Conarium, which is the closest we can go. Frank Gilman is the name of your character in the game. Inconveniently, you wake up to find that your base is empty and that you have amnesia. While investigating the base, you’ll come across various documents such as journal entries, audio recordings, and more. Putting the plot together will be a lot easier if you have these.
In terms of gameplay, this resembles more a walking simulator than a traditional puzzle game. In any case, they’re a lot of fun and a lot of work.
Role-playing game Darkest Dungeon explores the psychological toll of exploring. Starting with your character finding out that a relative committed suicide after going insane, the game introduces you to the manor that you’ve just taken over. His suicide was motivated by his discovery of terrors around the manor. These dungeons must be cleared, and it is up to you to do it.
The good news is that you can enlist the assistance of up to four different characters. The bad news is that they can get stressed out.. The more stressed they are, the less successful they are in fighting and the greater their risk of death.
Sherlock Holmes: The Awakened
When it comes to solving crimes, Sherlock Holmes: The Awakened’s best detective is tired of the same old routine. If he’s on the lookout for a case with high stakes, he’ll likely discover one that is. Cthulhu is being summoned by a group of kidnappers he discovers while researching kidnappings. Suddenly, he’s not just fighting to save 19th-century London, but the entire planet.
However, the authors of this game chose not to center their efforts on this particular Lovecraftian horror trope. Holmes’s escalating conflict with the demonic cult was not mentioned. a profound feeling of foreboding pervades the atmosphere.
What is a Lovecraftian game?
There are several subgenres of weird fiction that include “Lovecraftian horror,” which is a term that refers to horror that focuses more on the terror of the unknown and inexplicable than on gore or other components of shock.
Is bloodborne a Lovecraftian?
Bloodborne by From Software draws heavily on the Lovecraftian Mythos. Here are some monsters that should serve as inspiration for the game’s bosses. The Demon’s Souls and Dark Souls series, both developed by From Software, have a strong influence on Bloodborne.
Is Cthulhu a mythical creature or is he a real person?
“The Call of Cthulhu,” a short story written by H.P. Lovecraft and first published in Weird Tales in 1928, introduces the mythical monster Cthulhu.
As a result, those are our top picks for the best Lovecraftian video games currently available. Let us know in the comments if we’ve overlooked any games that you think deserve a spot on this list, and we’ll see if we can include them in the future!