The Innsmouth Case Review
In an era with incredible motion capture technology, open worlds, branching narratives, and explosive details in high-octane environments, it can be hard to be excited about sitting down with a cup of tea for a story. That is of course unless that story is told by a certain iconic horror writer. What if this little interactive “choose your own adventure” dropped you right into the center of an eerie, unsettling little town and was more than happy to make you go mad in more ways than one?
Developed by RobotPumpkin Games, The Innsmouth Case is a surprisingly delightful and captivating text-based adventure that takes you into an original story in the world of H.P. Lovecraft. Considered by many to be the grandfather of science fiction horror, Lovecraft’s brand of unique and genre-defining Cosmic Horror is on point – albeit a little toned down for the sake of a wider audience. You’ll play as a nameless alcoholic detective in Boston who is hired by a mysterious woman to come to the city of Innsmouth and find her missing daughter. All of the typical beats of the 1920’s Cthulhu Mythos are here with one unique and refreshing change – it is set in the modern era.
An Enjoyable Tale of the Many Ways You’ll Die
The protagonist himself notes that meeting with the mysterious woman feels like something out of an old noir film, yet he frequently mentions some of the pleasures of modern life which – should you find your mindset stuck in the roaring 20s – will snap you back to reality. It’s a simple point-and-click text adventure that leaves you with little to do but read the tale and make your choice, yet more often than not these choices will lead to a strange and unfortunate demise. The Innsmouth Case features 27 possible endings to come across and loads of ways to meet each grizzly end. I would love to discuss some of the more elaborate and humorous ends I met in the game, but I wouldn’t want to spoil the fun and insanity this game offers. After dying a few times you start to grasp the scope of how vast the game actually is, as arriving in Innsmouth gives you three possible locations to start exploring and each one branches to an incredible degree.
Despite being based on the iconic Cosmic Horror genre, the game offers plenty of humor in the protagonists actions and internal monologue. This interspersed use of humor takes some of the tension out of the horror but it also keeps you surprisingly engaged. Each time I died I found myself excited to try a different narrative branch in the hopes of a less lethal outcome. The writing for the game is quite superb, thankfully not attempting to emulate the style of Lovecraft himself who was rather advanced in his prose, but instead makes for an easy and manageable read that lets the story flow nicely. Having said that, it is a shame the game does not feature voice acting. There are minor animations on screen and once in a while a startling sound may jump out depending on your action, but it is quite reading intensive with little in the way of stimulating the other senses. It would be nice if I could plug in some headphones and close my eyes to experience the story and click when necessary to help with immersion, but I do also understand the thrill of simulating a book to read.
The Innsmouth Case is a beautifully written, delightfully dark, and truly excellent experience on a rainy day. The writers at RobotPumpkin Games are clearly fans of Lovecraft’s work and they capture the soul of his writing with their own humorous twist. Fans of Lovecraft or Tim Burton will adore the narrative and the visual style of the game, no doubt getting lost in trying to uncover each of the curious endings. This is, however, a game made to appeal more to the hardcore fans than a general audience. The lack of voice acting and the minimal on-screen animations can make for a dull experience if you aren’t committed to playing a game entirely comprised of reading, but it is a fantastic little story to get lost in when you need a break between car chases and gunfights.
**PC code provided by the publisher**
- Superb Writing
- Great Humor
- Interesting Visuals
- No Voice Acting
- Few Animations