What are the best Lovecraftian games?


My own comment about similarities between Lovecraft’s fiction and a type of Japanese ghost stories (kaidan) made me realize - or, maybe, just better articulate - something. I think this thread can be summarized like this: there are many games, horror or not, that utilizes Lovecraftian mythos (namely story, names, imagery, tentacles, deep sea creatures as cosmic horrors, etc), but very few with Lovecraftian ethos (tone, failure of the reason and science, indifference of the cosmos).


What it bothers me it how extended is the Lovecraftian references and elements… but there are so few straight adaptations of his works to film/tv/games mediums.


Yeah, with Lovecraft everything feels niche but it is such a widespread niche. Nothing I feel has really penetrated mainstream consciousnesses yet. The movies are all indie affairs. The video games are outlier. Boardgames I think is where it thrives the most outside of the source material.


[quote=“Nightgaunt, post:75, topic:120811, full:true”]EDIT: By the way, does anyone understand why it seems to be almost entirely continental European studios that make Lovecraftian games?

Well, I think Lovecraft is somewhat more popular in Europe than in the States (but I have no data to back this, only personal experience).

Also I think mid-size European studios have less access to IP acquisition and to international press, so attaching your mid-tier game to an stablished but free franchise does help to gain visibility.


I wouldn’t be surprised if that wasn’t a licensing issue (meaning initial $$$ investment) related to the increasing popularity of the property.


There aren’t licensing issues, the rights expired, the works are part of public domain.


Right, but there are familiar aspects of Cthulhu in gaming that are registered trademarks–a lot of them related to Chaosium’s stuff or other properties out there (Fantasy Flight, etc.). I think if you’re going to make a Lovecraftian game, you have to do some tiptoeing to not run afoul of those trademarked aspects…or license them.


What we need is a good rpg/adventure game that simulates Mountains of Madness – a slow run with maybe some survival elements – discovery, maybe some combat too – and a LOT of cold. Anyways that’s my .2 cents – I just read that fairly recently (ok ok -I listened to it offa audible --pretty good narrator on that one).

FYI – That’s Lovecraftian epic adventure in Antarctica.


All right, I’ll give this a shot. Sorry for the length.

Oh, and there be Lurking Horror spoilers below.

Dave Lebling claimed to be heavily inspired by H.P. Lovecraft when he wrote Lurking Horror in 1987, in which the player encounters mysterious mounds, creepy burrows, horror-inducing creatures and diabolical, forbidden magical experiments in a 1980s MIT-like setting reminiscent of Miskatonic University. (Not just reminiscent, though – see interview at the bottom of this post.)

The original game box contained the usual “feelies” including a document entitled, “From G.U.E. Tech at a Glance: A Guide for Freshmen”. One section towards the end reads, “Whatever you do, avoid Prof. Hamstop’s astronomy classes. He’s a tenured bore, and you can probably learn more by just gazing at the sky. Also beware of: Prof. Tighe’s Intensive Metallurgy course; Dr. Morlock’s Introduction to Fuel Gas Engineering; Dr. Negele’s Moral Philosophy classes; Prof. Carlsen’s seminar in Textile Technology; and any junior instructor.”

The game: It’s dead of winter and you’re in a computer lab, facing pressure to complete a twenty-page paper on “modern analogues of Xenophon’s ‘Anabasis’”. As you work on the assignment, you find that the document has been magically replaced by something else that bears no resemblance to yours. It’s written in “a sort of ‘Olde English’ that you’ve never seen before.”, and “a combination of incomprehensible gibberish, latinate pseudowords, debased Hebrew and Arabic scripts, and an occasional disquieting phrase in English.” As you read it, you realize that it’s describing the summoning of a “visitor”. A page appears containing a poem written in the same script that is accompanied by “queasily disturbing” woodcut illustrations:

"He returns, he is called back (?)
The loyal ones (acolytes?) make a sacrifice
Those who survive will meet him (be absorbed? eaten?)
They will live, yet die
Forever will be (is?) nothing to them (to him?)

“His place (lair? burrow?) must be prepared
His food (offerings?) must be prepared
Call him forth (invite him?) with great power
Only an acceptable (tasteful?) sacrifice will call him forth
He will be grateful (satiated?)”

The rest is even more fragmentary.

(Even more spoilers!)

The text then magically transports you to another realm where, in a “black basalt bowl”, you make your way through a crowd of unidentified creatures who worship a strange stone that’s marked with a strange claw-like symbol and guarded by a terrifying creature that soon devours you. This turns out to be a nightmare, and you awake back in the lab, holding the stone.

An NPC informs you that your paper was “mixed up on the file server with some files from the Department of Alchemy” and was somehow swapped with another paper entitled “Lovecraft.” The NPC suggests looking for help from unknown sources “down there” and you soon set off alone, in search of answers.

In the course of the game you encounter a reanimated janitor, a mysterious creature that seems to be stalking you, a blood-covered sacrificial altar, swarms of fleeing rats, a kind of catacombs underneath the university, mobs of grotesque “urchin” creatures and mad professors conducting sinister occult experiments that go horribly awry. And there’ve been reports of students disappearing mysteriously. And, almost needless to say, there’s some kind of a tentacled beast from the beyond that, as it turns out, has somehow breached and infected the campus computer network.

That’s pretty much where, I think, the resemblance to and inspiration from Lovecraft literature ends. And the game, while creepy at times, isn’t really as scary as you might hope. This might be because Lebling was limited in how much material he could actually use. In an interview with Brass Lantern he remarked, “I’d have loved to have done ‘The Lurking Horror’ as a larger-size game (it was almost the last of the “small” games which had to fit in 84k bytes of disk space). Some good scary stuff got cut out of it or never implemented due to the size restrictions.”

Here’s Lebling talking about the inception for the game in a video interview recorded in 2011 by Dean O’Donnell for WPI Tech:

Lurking Horror was sort of a combination…it was inspired by my own experiences at MIT when I was an undergraduate, because “G.U.E. Tech” in the game is quite obviously geographically nearly identical to MIT…that and my enjoyment and and love of the works of H.P. Lovecraft. And I would try to put something kind of Lovecraftian in an MIT setting, and that’s what inspired Lurking Horror.

I figured it actually flowed very well out of Lovecraft works, because in his books there this place called Miskatonic University, which is, you know, where the professors are all raising demons and they’ve got books that you shouldn’t open, and all this kind of stuff. So my theory is that what happened is that after all the troubles in the 20s and 30s, which was when Lovecraft was writing these novels, there were always these nasty Miskatonic Universiy things going on.

They got in trouble, I think, and they probably nearly went out of business, closed down as a university, but some benefactor named George Underwood Edwards (G.U.E.) put a lot of money into Miskatonic University and in gratitude they renamed it in his honor. So G.U.E. Tech, aka G.U.E. Tech, not to be confused with MIT or WPI Tech or any place like that, continues on as a thriving technological university with a sideline in demonology.


Thanks for that, barstein. I have fond memories of Lurking Horror. It’s weird… I can’t remember if I encountered it before I got into HP Lovecraft (through the RPG) or not.

If anyone’s interested in even more analysis, check out the Digital Antiquarian. He even did a set of annotations on the GUE/MIT connection.


Thank you sir, a commendable and informative post. I am old enough to remember the Infocom games, though I was usually terrible at them. I recall a buddy who was big into Lovecraft enjoying this one. They don’t make boxed games like Infocom did anymore.

You can still play this! I found a link to it at Abandonia (you will also need to get DosBox to run it). Another link is here, but I’ve no idea if this other site is reliable or not [loveroms.com] and they also include a link to an emulator that can run it.


Thanks for the link to those interviews. I needed something else to keep me from playing the games in my backlog.


Can’t agree with this enough. One of the things I loved about the Call of Cthulhu tabletop rpg (and this is also true of Warhammer Fantasy RPG) is that your biggest enemies were nearly always other people, not monsters. And if you ever encountered even the most minor of actual monstrosities (save humanoids like skaven or beastmen in the wfrp instance) they represented a mortal threat (physically and mentally) and you’d better run like hell.


I just reread Whisperer in the Darkness and I forgot there’s a farmhouse siege in that story. It has guns and dogs vs a bunch of fungi from Yuggoth. In other words, perfect for a horde mode or tower defense game!



Hi, new here. This is not direct Lovecraft game.
However, it is a wonderful game with very strong Lovecraft theme.
Quest for Glory: Shadows of Darkness


So yeah. Mansions of Madness 2nd Edition might be the best solitaire game I’ve ever played for what it does. Also played fully co-op last night with three people, and it was amazing – especially given that we were playing a scenario where I knew the “plot”, basically.

What was cool is that the game itself played out very differently, and even though I generally knew what a lot of the back-story was, by the end of the game two players were insane and playing their own victory conditions, and the whole thing was – for me – an exercise in survival horror. Very satisfying and tremendously fun survival horror.


Postponed until 2018

This marks another delay to the official HP Lovecraft licensed Call of Cthulhu game which still really hasn’t had a major showing of gameplay or even many screenshots. It was originally announced at the beginning of 2016 where it was said to be coming 2017. This was pushed back to Q4 2017, then December, now from Twitter it’s just generally “2018”.

2018. We'll announce an accurate date as soon as possible, but first we're focused on making the best possible game. Have a nice day!
— Call Of Cthulhu (@CoC_thegame) September 27, 2017


I’m not sure if it is Lovecraftian because I’ve never played it, but Amnesia (which looks in the store to possibly be Lovecraftian) is free for PS Plus users on the PS4 this month.


Amnesia: The Dark Descent is decidedly Lovecraftian. Amnesia: A Machine For Pigs is less so, but still kinda sorta?


Scroll up.