As we approach Halloween, I wanted to share a little something I discovered based on a post I read on fellow blogger David Haden’s site, Tentaclii. I’m a fan of the works of H. P. Lovecraft, as readers of the Junkyard must know by now. David provides metric tons of data on Lovecraft and that means sometimes I find an announcement that really jumps out at me. A graphic novel here, a mix a bit of video games there and I’m a happy chappie. Sadly, if I’m honest, those Lovecraftian video games seldom live up to expectation, with rare exception. But this time, Steam had a freebie called Dagon and I’ll be honest: a freebie gets a lot more leeway than a game that I have to pay for. I can be more forgiving if things don’t meet my expectations.
Dagon, considering what it is, is a game I probably would not have spent the money on it. However, having played it, I think the developer was clever in his strategy. The main game is indeed free, but there are DLCs that cost money should you be interested. A very nominal fee, at that. And I have to say, I am intrigued because after playing Dagon, I know what to expect and I was left wanting more. And it’s all in the way the developer gamifies the story that has me already thinking of replaying it, just a few days since completing it the first time ’round.
Here are the facts: it’s the story Dagon, in its entirety, read out. Lovecraft often wrote in the first person, so the game plays with the narrator telling the story of what he went through as we see the events unfold. As any reader of Lovecraft knows, his writing was often heavy on exposition. Don’t misunderstand me, it was good and I still enjoy many of those tales, but they are description-heavy. Now we all know the mind’s eye works to piece it together, but it sure is nice being able to see a visual representation of these events. The problem is that it rarely comes off the way we expect in movies and TV, but games have an advantage of being more immersive; you get to control the character and see through his eyes. Interestingly, the moment it really worked best for me was the final line of the story, which always left me a bit confused never actually dawning on me that the guy was planning to dash himself through the window to his death. Call me dim, I’ll own it with this one. I never could picture what was going on, so seeing it at the end of this tale made sudden, inescapable sense that has me completely grateful for the adventure.
The graphics are excellent. You don’t get to move as much as I’d have liked in some scenes, but you always have a degree of mobility. The whole experience lasts around 30 minutes, but the main reason I want to have another go at it is because the developer, as I mentioned above, gamifies the story. There are hidden Elder Signs throughout the game that you can click on to reveal added information about the life and works of good old H. P. You get awards for finding them all, so it’s a combination of good story with great visuals and a bit of a game to learn more about the man and his tales.
It’s not going to win game of the year, but it will win me at least an additional play-through and possibly a few expansions. Dive in… the water is deep, the moon is gibbous and the fear is, as always, eldritch. Happy Halloween from the gamers corner of the Junkyard! ML