H.P. Lovecraft once said “The process of delving into the black abyss is to me the keenest form of fascination.” The same can be said by many horror game aficionados today, as the genre has surged in popularity in recent years. The Sinking City‘s launch is proof that Lovecraft and his work continues to play a vital role in inspiring developers to create some of the most imaginative (albeit creepy) universes the medium has ever seen. Though fans will have to wait a little while longer to experience Frogwares’ haunting title for themselves, the following are some H.P. Lovecraft games they can enjoy until its release for PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC on June 27.
Best H.P. Lovecraft Games | Call Of Cthulhu
Last year’s Call Of Cthulhu stays faithful to Lovecraft’s short story of the same name and successfully translates narrative elements from the 1981 tabletop RPG. As a private investigator and war veteran named Edward Pierce, players are tasked with looking into the mysterious death of the Hawkins family on an island off the coast of Massachusetts.
Fans must help Pierce maintain his sanity through sleeping pills and alcohol as he encounters increasingly strange nightmares and frightful local rituals. The game’s slow pace may not be for everyone, but those who stick around long enough may be able to meet Lovecraftian creatures aside from the eponymous Sleeper of R’lyeh.
Best H.P. Lovecraft Games | Bloodborne
While Bloodborne doesn’t include any of Lovecraft’s creatures, its themes are highly reminiscent of the author’s work. As fans journey through the Gothic city of Yharnam, they’ll come to learn that its savage inhabitants brought a plague upon themselves soon after they partook of the Great Ones’ forbidden healing blood.
This coincides with instances in Lovecraft’s short stories where characters are psychologically destroyed or filled with deep regret after learning about something they were told to avoid. Bloodborne and Lovecraft also explore science’s inability to understand everything around us. Each argues that some phenomena are best left unexplained.
Best H.P. Lovecraft Games | Amnesia: The Dark Descent
Amnesia: The Dark Descent treats darkness as a formidable opponent. Should protagonist Daniel stay in the dark too long, his sanity will deteriorate and make him more susceptible to visual and auditory hallucinations. Monsters in the game feed on the madness and lurk close when players are just about to lose their minds. This spiral into lunacy and narrative parallels with The Call of Cthulhu makes Amnesia feel like a modern retelling of Lovecraft’s classic tale. That’s not to say that the game is a carbon copy, as it manages to preserve its own distinct horror identity.
Best H.P. Lovecraft Games | Eternal Darkness: Sanity’s Requiem
Eternal Darkness: Sanity’s Requiem judges the player’s ability to maintain both a fictional character’s sanity and their own. If fans are spotted by enemies often, they’ll encounter Sanity Effects that alter the environment. These include bleeding ceilings and walls, frightening noises, and strange camera angles. When they’re on the brink of collapsing into a catatonic state, fourth wall-breaking phenomena like simulated TV or console crashing, advertisements for a sequel, or corrupted save files will appear to mess around with players themselves.
This all aligns nicely with Lovecraft’s constant questioning of reality and his recurring depiction of civilization fighting back against chaos. It’s hard to believe that Nintendo published the title, considering the subject matter and its clear inspiration.
Best H.P. Lovecraft Games | Darkest Dungeon
Throughout his stories, Lovecraft is known to reward his characters with small victories before he has them meet a grisly fate. Darkest Dungeon narrows in on this philosophy, as players are forced to encounter increasingly difficult enemies through a series of procedurally generated dungeons. Claiming victory with one’s party of four may come at the expense of its stress level, the likes of which can force players to end their adventures prematurely.
Managing one’s roster is key should fans want to conquer all of the dungeons in the game and find out what exactly drove their ancestors to madness years ago. Darkest Dungeon isn’t an easy game, but those who persevere may find its Lovecraftian influences fascinating to witness in motion.
Best H.P. Lovecraft Games | Alone in the Dark
The original Alone in the Dark is considered by many to be the first 3D survival horror game. Responsible for influencing franchises like Resident Evil and Silent Hill, the game takes a page from The Call of Cthulhu by firmly basing itself on the Cthulu Mythos. Creatures like Nightgaunts and Deep Ones can be encountered alongside supernatural beings introduced in other media.
Lovecraft fans should be glad to know that the title’s plot is inspired by the author’s aforementioned short story, as players are tasked with investigating the supposed suicide of an artist within the walls of a haunted Louisiana mansion called Derceto. As Edward Carnby or Emily Hartwood, they must learn more about the otherworldly spirits residing within the home before they’re possessed and used as a conduit to trigger the apocalypse. Despite its age, Alone in the Dark is an essential experience for Lovecraft connoisseurs.
Lovecraft argued that the strongest human emotion is fear and that the strongest type of fear is that of the unknown. Gaming will always be a suitable haven for horror fans, as developers can conjure whatever foreign creatures or worlds they imagine. Of course, as with any work of fiction, it’s best to keep one foot grounded in reality lest we feed into Cthulhu’s mythic chaos and lose ourselves in places where tentacled monsters reign supreme.