The author, H.P. Lovecraft, is well-known for creating monstrous, other-worldly creatures so terrifying that countless others strive to match them. Consequently, you’ll find a slew of styles or works that, although not created by Lovecraft, may pass for one of his weird, science, fantasy, or horror creations.
Take RPGs, for example. These days, developers go hard at work, bouncing Lovecraft’s ideas off one another. Some are as authentic as they come, while others are too far-fetched to make the cut for this list. After scouring the depths of video game culture, here are the best Lovecraftian RPGs that come close to giving Lovecraft’s Cthulhu mythos a run for its money.
5. Lovecraft's Untold Stories (2019)
Lovecraft’s Untold Stories is like a tribute to Lovecraft’s own stories. It’s an action rogue-lite that features five characters exploring various Lovecraft story locations. Each location has a unique storyline and a set of interconnected mysteries to uncover.
Just like most Lovecraftian RPGs, survival is paramount. You start to navigate randomly generated Lovecraft worlds and run into ancient monstrosities. Each player’s path leads to uncovering certain clues that help fight the Ancient Ones.
You also have distinct weaknesses you’ll need to keep an eye out for. In the long run, players must try to maintain their sanity while fighting hundreds of Lovecraftian monsters. Lose it, and it’s game over.
4. Sunless Sea (2015)
If you’re a fan of survival or roguelike games, you may want to check out Sunless Sea. This game combines exploration and storytelling in the award-winning Victorian Gothic universe of Fallen London. Lovecraft’s monsters and cosmic terror spring up on you, and it’s up to you to find ways to survive. Chances are you’ll die a tad too many times. However, it gets easier once you get the hang of it.
Players take on the role of the captain of a ship in steampunk London. Stranded in a dark, underground ocean, you explore the depths of the seas, solving quite enticing mysteries along the way. More gameplay elements, like trading at various ports, come into play, even as the hidden terrors of this world start to unfold.
As captain, your crew’s lives rest in your hands. You could also lose your mind the farther you sink down the rabbit hole. Frequent death comes with the package, from the monsters, catastrophic weather, and even some crew members. Even so, you do get more than enough chances to redeem yourself.
Your experience will likely remain above par, thanks to the rearranging of the islands upon each respawn and the clever ways the game coins combat and exploration. This way, the game constantly motivates you to keep playing, despite the many ways the odds appear to be stacked against you.
3. Diablo III (2013)
Admittedly, Diablo III isn’t the most obvious Lovecraftian RPG you may think of. However, it does infuse elements of Lovecraftian’s other-worldly forces. Also, it may be a great choice to shift gears and take on a more active role, slaying endless evil, mastering countless abilities, and exploring nightmarish dungeons like it’s another Tuesday.
Heaven and hell clash in Diablo III, with high fantasy hack-and-slash action and cosmic horror taking center stage. So here you are, caught in the middle of a fight you have nothing to do with, yet discovering an entirely new world of ancient evils and legendary loot. Just try not to squirm or feel that shiver run down your spine, because you’ll need the courage to triumph over terror.
2. Call of Cthulhu (2018)
If you’re going to adapt Lovecraft’s most popular Call of Cthulhu story and the associated Cthulhu Mythos, then you better do it right. Fortunately, the Call of Cthulhu survival RPG does exactly that, despite being severely underrated by most. The world is filled to the brim with creepy madness as private investigator Edward Pierce investigates the sudden death of the Hawkins family on the mysterious remote island of Darkwater.
To be fair, Call of Cthulhu only loosely adapts the main story. At least lesser than Call of Cthulhu: Dark Corners of the Earth (2005) does. However, for the parts that the game doesn’t do a great job at, it more than makes up for them in the mix of cosmic horror and Pierce interacting with the cult of Cthulhu. Intriguing story elements factor in every step of the way as Pierce searches for the connection between the murder and the supernatural while putting his sanity at risk.
Whichever path you take, whether it's focusing on the strength skill tree and unlocking more clues or the cult knowledge skill tree and uncovering more mystery, albeit with a high potential for insanity, rest assured that the game will deliver on its promise of a perfectly crafted nightmare with no other way but through.
1. Bloodborne (2015)
Bloodborne is, without a doubt, the best Lovecraftian RPG out there. Players must navigate a cursed town in which a deadly mystery consumes everything it touches. Surprise, surprise, the game demands entering this city to find a cure for this mysterious plague. As soon as you arrive, Lovecraftian beasts emerge from every nook and cranny, purging the city and thirsting for blood.
Although Bloodborne isn't a Lovecraftian story, the game's themes are clearly inspired by the horror author. It flawlessly adapts the looming dark, oppressive horror themes with a bleak ending while remaining fresh and original. The concept of trapping the player in an endless nightmare full of punishing levels and dark fantasies keeps you on your toes throughout the game.
Also, frequent death is unavoidable, with the game being a dead ringer for Souls-like games. All in all, Bloodborne is an adventure that demands strong will and resilience to complete, with its combination of tough-as-nails combat, Lovecraftian otherworldly creatures, and human greed tightly wrapping Bloodborne in a bow.