theuselessgod's Cthulhu Saves the World (PC) review

An excellent upgrade over its predecessor, and a fun throwback.

The Short

Pros

- Entertainingly ridiculousness story about how Cthulhu must save the world in order to then destroy it

- Same good writing from Breath of Death VII, and more of it

- Jokes are better and the scope of the game is much larger

- Graphics are substantially improved

- Battle system is similar but has been somewhat refined

- Insanity system is entertaining and fits the character

- Great music

Cons

- Still has the problem with overly long dungeons

- Battles can still turn into just mashing A over and over; balance isn't that much better

- Still has a high number of random battles and level grinding

It's time to save the world. Again.

The Long

After the surprising success of Breath of Death VII, Zeboyd games set their sights on a new but similar RPG experience, Cthulhu Saves the World. Featuring the same goofy setup as their previous game, this one was meant to be both parody but also be able to stand up on its own two legs...er...tentacles? Anyway, with improvements around the board, has Cthulhu learned from Breath of Death's mistakes?

For the most part, yes. Cthulhu Saves the World is an excellent throwback to the JRPG games of yore, much better than its predecessor.

It looks tons better, for starters.

The script has been improved, if only because there is more of it. The story is silly but still oddly captivating: Cthulhu, the primeval demigod, appears for some serious world-destroying but is cursed out of his powers. The only way to restore them is if the world is saved, and so thus begins Cthulhu's epic quest to save the world so that he'll get his powers back and...destroy it. It's absurd and silly, with narration and plenty of arrogant, stupid lines from Cthulhu (and a rather entertaining first gag where a rag-tag band of Thief, Rogue, and Wizard engage you to "save the world") as well as his fans, a cat, and all other weirdos who decided to follow you around. There's a lot more lines of dialogue in this mix, and the absurd premise only helps push it further. For laughs, Cthulhu Saves the World nails it.

The overworld also looks loads better.

The battle system has seen a few tweaks, though at its core it is still exactly the same as Breath of Death VII. It's a turn based, party based experience, with duel branching leveling trees for each character and a variety of skills. A new mechanic, however, is Cthulhu's ability to make enemies "insane." This changes their sprite to a more hilarious (and more crazy) version, and can often make enemies turn on their own party, stop attacking, or all other sorts of zany things. Some enemies, however, get stronger after they attack, so you have to be careful.

The rest of the system is exactly the same as Breath of Death VII, so you can saunter on over to that review if you want an in-depth look. It feels a bit more refined, with battles actually requiring a bit more skill than usual rather than just mashing "A," but this isn't a tactical turn based masterpiece or anything. It's simple, sort of easy, and generally unfulfilling in the battle department. Which is too bad, because I think the battle system could really get great should they utilize it better rather than forcing the stick to the "retro" roots. Maybe next game.

The enemies also fit a weird Lovecraftian theme, in their own goofy ways.

Dungeons are a bit better, but still too long. The annoying mazes have been somewhat toned down (exception being that zombie village...ugh, that wasn't fun) and there are more of them, but it still really feels like a chore to traverse the maze where the only thing in your way is like a pile of sticks. Seriously? Cthulhu is being thwarted by a pile of sticks? Or a half-broken car? Come on. No more maze dungeons, please. They aren't fun.

However, unlike Breath of Death VII, the level of "retro" they forcefully injected into this game didn't turn me off. Could it have been designed better? Yeah, probably, but you are going into this game for a retro, NES (or maybe Genesis, based on the improved graphics) RPG experience, and it delivers that in spades. You'll have to have some tolerance or fondness for the old systems, but if that's your thing this game nails it pretty much spot on.

I'm getting some serious Final Fantasy IV vibes from the graphics.

Graphics are crazy better (get it? Cthulhu joke.) in nearly every aspect. Battles now have pretty backdrops instead of being on straight black, the tiles for the towns and world map are well drawn and very colorful. The sprites are still a bit bland, but the enemies look much better (maybe because they are in front of a backdrop now, who knows) and the whole thing is just seriously aesthetically pleasing. The portraits still don't really match the graphics they are portraying (pixelate 'em more, guys), and I swear the menus look too HD for what this game is trying to go for, but I'm nitpicking. For a throwback game, it looks good. End of story.

Music is also fantastic all around, same as the excellent Breath of Death VII, with some surprisingly epic songs lurking inside this indie title.

The final boss song is pretty good.

To be completely blunt, this is the parody throwback I wanted. While I enjoyed Breath of Death VII when I played it, it wasn't until I burned through Cthulhu Saves the World that I realized exactly how flawed it was in comparison. It's funny, stupid, and hits all the right notes for the old JRPG fan. If you have a computer it's only $3, so you might as well go nab it off Steam if this is your thing. Here's hoping in future games they refine the battle system to something special, but for now this game is good enough to keep you entertained during it's 5-6 hour length.

Four out of five stars.

Yeah, this got awkward real fast...

More at http://nathanvsvideogames.blogspot.com

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