The Satirical Troll’s Top 7 Favorite Lovecraft Games

The work of Howard Phillip Lovecraft and his unique brand of cosmic terror is something that has inspired horror writers for nearly a century. America’s favorite xenophobe has created a mythos and style of writing unparalleled by most authors. But, rarely if ever in other mediums has cosmic horror worked well. There’s something inherently fitting about the fear of the unknown and video games. Sure, seeing a character in a movie having to confront the realization of being a lone pillar of fleeting sanity in a cold and chaotic universe is good and all, but actually having to control the character and not knowing how to deal with the dread of what is to come makes Lovecraftian horror click in games in a way it just can’t in other mediums. Today, I will discuss my top seven favorite Lovecraft inspired games.

7. Call of Cthulhu (2018)-

Based loosely on the iconic pen and paper RPG, Call of Cthulhu is a pretty faithful adaptation of Lovecraft’s mythos. You play as Edward Pierce, a private eye who is tasked with solving the case of a family who died mysteriously in a fire on a remote island fishing village. The only clue is a painting that the mother who was said to have gone insane has painted and somehow didn’t burn. What follows is an interesting tale of the occult and dream-like madness. The story is on a slow burn, but when it gets going, it’s actually really good, and while the title is not the most appealing gameplay-wise, it makes up for it with an engaging story. The game is an RPG with some light survival horror elements, but you aren’t putting points into strength or magic, you’re putting points into different aspects of Edward’s personality that allow you to better understand different things about the precarious island community and the mystery as a whole. The game is sort of low budget and janky, but if you look past that, you can find a really interesting adaptation of Lovecraft’s work.

6. Cthulhu Saves the World (2011)-

All these games about the frailty of human sanity and the pointlessness of humanity’s plight in a cold, uncaring universe. Aren’t there any fun games based on Lovecraft? Ah, that my friend is where Cthulhu saves the world comes in. Cthulhu Saves the World is an old school styled turn-based RPG that sets out to mimic the style of the NES era Dragon Quest games. You play as the legendary Lovecraftian elder god on a journey to save the world… by conquering it. The game is a parody of old school JRPGs and has some hilarious writing and an overall lighthearted tone which is in direct contrast to all the other games on this list. You fight a ton of other Lovecraftian entities, and the game is really a love letter to the entire mythos. It’s an old school RPG, but it doesn’t play like one and includes a lot of modern convinces. If you want to play a Lovecraft inspired game without the existential dread, then Cthulhu Saves the World is perfect for you.  

5. Quake (1996)-

It doesn’t get talked about a ton, but Quake definitely has some huge Lovecraftian influences in its level and monster design. All of this makes sense when you realize that the lore and story was in part crafted by Sandy Peterson, who also worked on the legendary “Call of Cthulhu” tabletop RPG. It might not come off as super Lovecraftian, but the atmosphere and monster design are unmistakably inspired by the twisted atrocities of Lovecraft. About the actual game, there isn’t much to say, this is one of the most iconic shooters ever made; created by the Carmack and Romero pairing that brought us Doom, it’s hard to not put this game on the list, even if its influences aren’t obvious at first. Also, if anybody is doubting whether this game is actually Lovecraftian or not, the final boss is literally Shub-Niggurath so…

4. Darkest Dungeon (2016)-

Darkest Dungeon is a Turn-based RPG with Rogue-like elements that is heavily inspired by the Lovecraftian mythos. Whether you’re in a dark crypt fighting liches and other undead monstrosities, or in an abandoned wood fighting off demons, Darkest Dungeon leans heavily on the sanity meter mechanic (get used to this, it’s in basically every single Lovecraftian game.) The core gameplay revolves around gathering a team of adventurers and setting out with them, attempting to keep them safe from all sorts of different terrors, and since they can permanently die, it makes things all the more tense. Characters can perish or go insane at any given moment, which makes the game a tremendous challenge. This game wears its Lovecraftian influences much more on its sleeve than Quake, and it’s without a doubt one of the most satisfying and fun games ever inspired by Lovecraft.

3. Amnesia: The Dark Descent (2010)-

One of the most influential horror games of the last decade, Amnesia is dripping in Lovecraftian atmosphere and horror. From the very outset, the story and setting calls to mind “The Rats in the Walls” one of Lovecraft’s seminal short stories. The core mechanics of the game revolve around the sanity meter, and not being able to look at the twisted abominations that roam the halls of the castle you are stuck in. There is no combat, meaning if you get spotted by an enemy, your only option is to turn tail and run, which along with the almost dream-like atmosphere of the story, really drives home the Lovecraftian themes as you cannot look at your aggressors for long without losing your sanity. This means you never really get a good look at what you’re hiding from and it all feeds into the central idea of Lovecraftian horror which is fear of the unknown. On top of this, the story is drip-fed to the player through dairies and short snippets almost alongside the narrator, which is a staple of Lovecraft’s own storytelling. Amnesia is one of the best Lovecraftian horror games I’ve ever played, and a title that has for better or worse, inspired an entire generation of horror.

2. Eternal Darkness: Sanity’s Requiem (2002)-

From elder entities using humanity as pawns to sough chaos and a knock off Necronomicon to the liches and undead horrors, for me, Eternal Darkness is THE Lovecraftian horror game to end all Lovecraftian horror games. It nails every single aspect of the genre that you’d come to expect from Lovecraft’s work and then some. Of course, the sanity meter returns, but it’s not like some other games where it just makes your vision all blurry or makes you slowly lose health. They really got creative with some of the things that having waning sanity does, including some fantastic 4th wall breaks. Sometimes it will turn the volume down on your tv. Sometimes it will claim that your save file has been deleted, and other times it will even swap the controls around so that things now do different functions than usual.

The plot is a history spanning tale about the Tome of Eternal Darkness, basically the game’s version of the Necronomicon that allows humans to commune with Elder Gods that give them otherworldly powers at the cost of their own sanity. It’s a great story, and while the game isn’t super scary and is actually pretty action focused, the variance in characters and the Lovecraftian atmosphere really makes it one of not just the best Lovecraftian horror game ever, but one of the best games ever, period.

1. Bloodborne (2015)-

Satirical, did you make this list just so that you could gush about Bloodborne for the millionth time? Yes, I did and yes, you can contact my lawyer if you wish to sue me. Bloodborne more than literally any other attempt at Lovecraftian storytelling in any medium captures everything that I love about Lovecraft’s writing. From cosmic entities that inhabit dream worlds, to gothic villages ravaged by powers they have no knowledge the true strength of, to the power of forbidden knowledge and the fear of the unknown, Bloodborne’s story is astonishingly deep and well spun. The visceral, filth ridden and slimy world of Bloodborne’s monsters are such a brilliant vision of Lovecraftian entities that to this day I marvel at some of their awesome designs.

While the story at the core of Bloodborne is a rather simple one about a kingdom that is destroyed by the power of a miracle gift extracted from alien gods and the corruption that trying to understand them and ascend to their level of knowledge brings, the lore and characters are so deep and well written that it is easily one of the most fully realized Lovecraftian stories ever conceived. The actual game, despite not attempting to be a true horror game honestly has better atmosphere than 99% of horror games. Bloodborne is my favorite piece of Lovecraft inspired media outside of Lovecraft’s own stories. If Dark Souls was a love letter to “Berserk” then Bloodborne is smut dedicated to Lovecraft.