How many of you out there remember reading one of the various Choose Your Own Adventure books growing up? As an avid reader I loved many of the Bamtam books that tailored to this printed style. It not only left an impact on me but also influenced many of the RPG franchises that I love today in some way. It’s with this written medium in mind that I set out to play RobotPumpkin’s debut horror comedy The Innsmouth Case on PC. The Innsmouth Case as the title might reveal to some is inspired by the amazing works of horror author H.P Lovecraft. As a fan of both CYOA stories and Lovecraftian media I couldn’t wait to dive into this book…er game.
The Innsmouth Case is not what you would call a traditional game from a gameplay mechanic perspective but it’s one that you will experience with new light each time you start a new game. Players will assume the role of a detective that desperately needs a little luck in his life as he prepares to close shop for the day. Like any good detective story that’s when she walks in, a lady with a missing daughter, and looks for days. I couldn’t help but feel like I was front and center in a semi-Philip Marlowe story in the opening moments of this interactive book. I have to say that this was one of its charms right from the start though as what you choose at every turn can make this adventure more foreboding and mildly serious or absolutely catastrophically hilarious at times.
There are plenty of opportunities to be the hero of your story or fall prey to the trappings of a 21st century Innsmouth. This is rather welcome change from the traditional 1920s Cthulhu Mythos setting that many fans know. You’ll find a bunch of modern conveniences and references in conversation or inner monologue brought up despite the writings of a story that makes it feel like its back in the 1920s at times. It’s clear to see that the folks as RobotPumpkin are fans of the Lovecraft’s work and they do a great job emulating his works while creating something different with their infusion of comedy throughout making it more accessible to audiences.
The biggest thing to know about The Innsmouth Case before diving in is that you’ll be doing a lot of reading which may not appeal to certain audiences. There is an option to advance through to each set of choices but that takes a lot of the fun out of the experience. For those in a little less of a hurry to finish an ending you can at least adjust the text scroll speed to make reading at least a little faster. As an avid reader myself I enjoyed the option to change the pace from time to time. You can play this game pretty much entirely with a mouse save for the quick skip feature so anyone can pick this up and play with little effort.
While it may not be apparent at first there are a lot of ways for your story to end, 27 to be exact, though many without any spoilers are unpleasant. There were a few that ended a bit abruptly but overall I found the variety interesting. The true test with any multiple-ending title is if you have the resilience to unlock them all. This is ultimately one of the more challenging aspects of The Innsmouth Case as I found some potentially desired endings will require a bit of retreading over familiar dialogue to get back to a critical choice. The nice thing though is that you can choose to load up an unlocked chapter or location to try different choices.
What I really enjoyed about The Innsmouth Case was its artistic style. While you’ll be spending a lot of time looking at the brownish pages of the book on screen it’s also graced by visuals of the locations you’ll visit as well as the over 30 different denizens that you’ll meet along the way. All of these characters are thankfully animated to give them life instead of being static figures. The character models are largely charming with an almost Burton like quality. The downside is that there is no spoken dialogue to go with the text so this is very true to form text adventure game. This also means that The Innsmouth Case can be played on a variety of different PCs and laptops even my little Yogabook for on the go enjoyability.
What audio you do get comes mostly in the form of a somewhat light piano based melody that you hear during the more picturesque locations. This changes up a bit to include more sinister tunes when it gets dark or you’re in a sketchy looking locale. I even enjoyed the music you hear in the arcade if you choose to take a little time for yourself and play a game albeit in text choices.
The thing that I really liked about The Innsmouth Case is that besides my love for the lore that inspired it is the replay value. I’m the kind of person that will reread books over and over even when I know the outcome just because I enjoy the stories. The Innsmouth Case fits perfectly for me with that in mind as I get to experience a new story every time until I exhaust every outcome. By the time that I wrote this I ended up with around a dozen or so endings completed before sitting down to write. If you enjoy Lovecraft but are looking for something a little different than what you’re used to then you should dare to check out some eldritch horror with a comedic flair in The Innsmouth Case available now on PC.