Title: The Innsmouth Case
Developer: RobotPumpkin Games
Publisher: Assemble Entertainment
Genre: Lovecraftian Visual Novel
Available On: PC, iOS, Android
Version Tested: PC
Official Site: https://theinnsmouthcase.webflow.io/innsmouthcase
Release Date: June 23rd, 2020
I have always been a fan of the works of H.P. Lovecraft, for his tales of strange alien gods and terrors that lurk within the vastness of space have always intrigued and fascinated me. Furthermore, I always admired how the works of Mr. Lovecraft have defined and shaped science fiction and the horror genre.
However, his stories and writings have not just touched and influenced writers, but have also influenced the realm of the gaming industry. That said, today we’ll be taking a look at a game that has been recently released onto Steam called The Innsmouth Case, a game where it takes the works of H.P. Lovecraft and that of humorous modern reiteration and merges them together, and overall the result is certainly interesting.
To begin, in The Innsmouth Case, players take on the role of an alcoholic private investigator who is given a case by a strange mother to track down their daughter within the seaside town of Innsmouth. Then so begins a wild journey where players will need to survive one night in Innsmouth while trying to figure out what is really going on in this strange fishing town. The game is also in text-based adventure format and so players progress through the game via various dialogue options that will eventually lead to over 27 endings depending on the choices players make.
Point and Click Cosmic Horror in The Innsmouth Case
Due to the fact The Innsmouth Case is a text-based adventure, there is not much in the way of features, but where it lacks in gameplay, it carries on with the story. Furthermore, it brings life to its strange world through well-crafted writing and dialogue, but also with a very heavy dash of humor. You will see this throughout a playthrough of this game, where it consists primarily through the eyes of the PI you play as and the constant pulp culture references or quick remarks he will launch at the many residents of Innsmouth.
During my playthrough, I even came to enjoy a lot of these references, but some were very off-putting, for example, like those I encountered with the Innmouthers near the Church. But overall, the experience this game has to offer is unique as well as being often enjoyable, and does not lack in the humor department. Furthermore, this really comes to light through the various antics this loveable detective can get into, which can often be extraordinarily strange.
For instance, you can literally end up getting drugged and murdered or even passed out on a beach and end up watching a fish-man orgy after you wake up. It is for these reasons I feel that The Innsmouth Case’s main strengths are its humor and comedy. But despite the humor being a strength within this game, it can often go overboard with its attempts at humor.
In particular, some of these jokes can seem really out of place such as putting literally “poopy place” at the end of someone’s last name or shouting 9/11 was an inside job before you die at the hands of Innsmouthers. I feel the end result of jokes such as these makes the experience as a whole become less enjoyable, as these jokes just come off as childish compared to others that are excellently written. Even worse, the game seems to spend the majority of the time cramming constant barrages of quick jabs and one-liners that really becomes a huge conflict with the horror aspects it this game.
That said, let us for a moment touch upon this conflict. As for a game that is based on the works of H.P. Lovecraft, it really lacks in its ability to provide elements of cosmic horror, which one would expect from a title heavily influenced by Lovecraftian horror. However, my readers, this is something we will get more into later. For the most part, despite its lack of Lovecraftian elements, it still manages to provide an mostly enjoyable experience, through its most of the time excellent well-written humor.
In addition, the writing helps to convey the strange world to the player and helps to create a high level of immersion in The Innsmouth Case. However, sadly even the writing at times can even come up short, as often the writing will not match the descriptions of the illustrations from time to time. This wasn’t the worse sin I encountered nor was it all too off-putting, but when the game is describing something completely different from what is shown on screen things can get a little confusing.
For example, at some point, the game will describe a normal-looking man and then what is shown is a literal fish person. However, I’m not sure if this was the intention of the developers to have it like this, but even if it was, it is a major flaw with this game which ends up hindering its storytelling capabilities.
Another example of this would be where the game would describe a gloomy local with a strange statue and then describe that the player is being watched from various windows by the strange inhabitants. This starts to create an eerie tone that drives home the fact that you are an outsider and you do not belong here.
Then all of a sudden there are tourists everywhere, which ruins the tone that was previously built up. In addition, it makes little sense why there would be tourists surrounding the player when the game already established that people are watching him, indicating he is the sole outsider of this town. Moving on, let us now get into the point I previously made regarding the Lovecraftian aspects of this game and how it does not fit with the humorous theme of this game.
More Humorous than Horrifying
In most instances, I feel it’s high due to the nature of the game itself, and I feel strongly that the humorous modern interpretation does not work with the Lovecraftian theme and often clashes with it. For example, at some point, the player will stumble upon a group of Innsmouthers as I mentioned earlier, arguing about aspects of their strange beliefs. In this instance, instead of providing an interesting situation that could have well provided an eerie look behind the curtain of what is really going on in this strange town, but instead the game opted for a situation that felt awkward and references various modern conspiracy theories that does not at all reflect the actual ideology of Innsmouthers.
Even worse, this whole situation is not even plausible because if you are well versed in the Lovecraftian lore and the stories, you would understand that these people do not like outsiders so the detective would have not so easily walked up to these “people” and got them to talk or let alone about their strange beliefs. Again, this is understandable as the game takes a more humorous approach, which is honestly fine as the humor in this game is often enjoyable for the most part. However, it’s the very same humor although funny at times when not resorting to childish material is what is mainly hindering the game’s ability to convey cosmic horror to the player, as it spends most of the game setting up jokes than building up the latter.
Verdict: So In the end, I ultimately found that The Innsmouth Case Is overall a fairly well-written hilarious game that provides players with an interesting adventure with multiple endings. It sadly fails to provide the humorous interpretation and blend of Lovecraftian horror that it sets out to accomplish. However, where it fails, it does succeed with its humor for the most part when not resorting to poor jokes. If you are in the market for an adventure game chock-full of pop culture and funny one-liners, The Innsmouth Case might be for you. If you are a fan of Lovecraftian horror though, I cannot recommend this game for you.
- Very well-written story and dialogue for the majority of the game.
- Decent visuals and sound
- Humorous antics and often comedic one liners
- Does not respect its source material.
- Illustrations often do not reflect what is written at times.
- Over saturation at times of references to pop culture.
- Often jokes are childish and feel out of place.
- Inconsistent writing at times