Be advised, Chronicle Of Innsmouth Mountains Of Madness uses DirectX 9, so make sure you have capable hardware. If you do, then act like a spanner and play the game in 1440p like me. Groan. Repeat ‘groan’ aloud.
I’m not a qualified doctor in the studies of Lovecraft, but I do enjoy partaking in selected works, especially when the storytelling is so good. This isn’t the first time Innsmouth has appeared on these shores, and to tell the truth, I hope that this influx of Chthulu’s pals continues.
Right, introductory bit done with, what’s this all about, eh? In this Chronicle Of Innsmouth Mountains Of Madness review, we continue Lone Carter’s story from the first adventure, Chronicle of Innsmouth from PsychoDev. Don’t worry if you haven’t played this game from 2017 – I hadn’t either, and it easily plays as a standalone (and makes me want to play the first).
Awaking on the shores of Innsmouth after an encounter with the local Shaggoth, Lone counts his lucky chickens that he survived, then attempts to get back home. When he does, he reports his findings to his client and the Miskatonic University, only for the case to expand further as they’ve now mysteriously disappeared.
Cue tentacles, eldritch dreams, ritual sacrifices and smoky, dark-lit rooms, and we have ourselves a bonafide detective title with all the hallmarks of Mr Lovecraft (who makes appearances in one way or another). Chronicle Of Innsmouth Mountains Of Madness doesn’t milk the themes. While there are a few Easter eggs here and there, they aren’t in your face and instead provokes a step away from the desk to read a booky wook (I’m now reading The Dunwich Horror).
Point and click adventures have this habit of being overly self-aware. While Chronicle Of Innsmouth Mountains Of Madness gameplay has its moments, the dialogue doesn’t break away from the narrative thread. That said, the game’s puzzles had me stumped far too often and slowed the pace quite a bit.
A slow pace is good for a detective yarn unless it’s L.A. Noire, and you have to find a suspect before they kill again. Well, that’s the case with all homicide stories, but the Chronicle Of Innsmouth Mountains Of Madness gameplay doesn’t have the same urgency.
Still, the genres quirkiness rears its head once more as you have to click everything on the screen and combine everything in your inventory as you’re clutching at straws. Even early on, a solution to a puzzle was so subtle – reading a line in a book about creating a static charge. Getting to that point, however, was that classic ‘click on everything and combine items, which don’t make sense’.
But the atmosphere in Chronicle Of Innsmouth Mountains Of Madness is spot-on, and the semiology throughout the scenes and other nuances are a nice touch, making the experience immersive. You can opt to play the game with text only, voice, or both. I ended up having both in fear of interruptions from the world outside and must say that Lone sounded the part. He’s apparently bi-lingual too.
Some of the voice acting was a little hit and miss. A couple of actors sounded like they were reading the text, while others, like Professor Lake in the ‘At The Mountains Of Madness’ prologue, hammed it up a little as if this was his calling card for future voice work. A receptionist also played a good part but sounded like they were talking into a bucket. It wasn’t terrible, but slightly distracting.
I would have liked for more variety with the dialogue. Events would happen, and the natural thing to do was to investigate anything and everything. Approaching NPCs, Lone would say he didn’t have the time, regardless of what he was doing, or the responses were just the same as before. Don’t they know that there’s been a murder!
Early on, there’s a ritual murder and exhausting all options, went back to the university in the game as that’s where the victims attended. Ask the receptionist, students or librarian about them? Nope, no hope in hell. It may have been worth returning to Innsmouth and letting the Shoggoth have its way with me.
But the tone in Chronicle Of Innsmouth Mountains Of Madness is wúnderbar, and most of the scenes are crafted to build up the suspense and lore of tentacle-related wrong-doers. I just wish that there were a few more options to explore as it feels quite restrictive regarding questions. That said, it makes up for it in unexpected puzzles.
Armed with my dyscalculia, there was an antidote puzzle where you have to measure the correct ingredients, which was critical to the story. For me, it was tough to do what others may consider simple maths, and no doubt made a pig’s meal with my workings out (genuinely used a paper and pen). After two or three failed attempts, it was rewarding to finish, but felt like a marathon.
If a game can inspire me to pick up a book like Orwell’s Animal Farm, and encourage a binge session on Lovecraft-themed films back to back (Nicholas Cage is a madman), then Chronicle Of Innsmouth Mountains Of Madness has succeeded in capturing my attention and imagination.
As for the game itself? An indie point and click gem. Yes, it has some shortcomings with dialogue and opportunities, and the calculation-based puzzles almost got the better of me, but it’s a story you can experience too. Just send me $30, and I’ll tell you how I made $18,000 a second from picking my nose. Oops, wrong link. It’s at the foot of the page.
- Excellent, intriguing story.
- Brilliant ‘throwback’ visuals.
- Understated score is perfect.
- Witty and knowledgeable writing.
- Rewarding puzzles (when solved).
- Lacking in dialogue options.
- Some puzzles are super hard.
- Quite linear in places with only one solution.
- Did I mention the antidote puzzle?