I covered Dreipol’s Shoggoth Rising in a news article a week ago, but for you Lovecraft lovers out there, I managed to get my hands on the game for a full review. If you happened to read the preview, you’ll remember that Ned’s boat was sunk by the dastardly Shoggoth – amorphous blobs of creatures that can take any form they like – and he decided to hunker down in a lighthouse, where the battle of this Android game takes place.
This very story is shown through a sleek animation when the game is loaded, whereby Ned – looking just like Bruce Campbell from the original Evil Dead series, might I add – decides that enough is enough. He’s as ready as he’s ever going to be, and Shoggoth are coming.
From the get-go, Shoggoth Rising sports a simple, clean layout that is easy to navigate. Don’t expect this simplicity to carry over to the gameplay though, as insanity takes over very quickly, in the best kind of way.
At first, only the story mode is unlocked, which includes the first episode of the game, called ‘The Deep Ones’, and 20 stages to fight through. In these, the gamer will progress through levels by shooting the Shoggoth as they attempt to climb the lighthouse, and whack any that get a little too close for comfort. Once I reached the fifth stage, a survival mode was unlocked. This plays out the same as the story stages, but the objective here is to get the highest score possible.
Though there is no tutorial before being thrown into the action – apparently fans of Lovecraft can handle it – the controls are pretty intuitive. All it takes is a tap and Ned will shoot, whack, and generally prevent the Shoggoth’s ascent of the lighthouse. These creatures swarm from all angles, so in order to survive until the clock reaches 00:00 at the end of each stage, the gamer has to rotate around the lighthouse by swiping at the screen.
This mechanic is somewhat disorientating at first, as you can’t see the entire building like you may want to, but I think it adds to the experience. The camera bobs and sways along with the chaos of this demon-filled night, and further captures the mood that Lovecraft fans would hope for.
During the earlier levels, the only weapons at my disposal were a ‘blunderbuss’ – an old-time handgun with infinite ammo – and a plank of wood, which is used to beat fiends when they get within reach. However, this isn’t the case for long.
Before I knew it, I was sending Lovecraft’s creatures back to the abyss with a number of weapons, and even a couple of special abilities, too. I switched my blunderbuss for far more powerful weapons, all of which could be upgraded with the credits that I’d earned when completing a stage. I also unlocked a harpoon, which I used to viciously stab Shoggoth between the scales until I unlocked my favourite defence; a power called ‘St Elmo’s fire’.
This beauty used the storm to my advantage, and brought down lightning on the creatures, finishing off smaller Shoggoth in one go, and slowing any that weren’t immediately killed. Some will take quite the beating as well, because they far outsize the nimble frog-like creatures that crawl up the lighthouse. Some Shoggoth take more damage, others remain in the water and use ranged attacks, while boss-type creatures… well, the less said the better, but I hope you like tentacles.
Lastly, whenever I review a game, I try not to dwell too much on the visuals. A game needn’t have next-gen graphics to be an enjoyable experience, and indies especially have created some serious awesome games with pixel-graphics. However, I wouldn’t be doing my job if I didn’t say that Shoggoth Rising looks amazing. Waves roll moodily, rain pours from the heavens, and thunder and lightning boom an atmosphere into the game that Lovecraft would be proud of.
Shoggoth Rising is as hard as it is stunning, so upgrade weapons often, tap like crazy, and hope for the best. If Lovecraft were alive now – knowing that he wasn’t the nicest guy in the world – he may have wished me dead, and it seems that this game imbues that spirit. The deep ones want to end this stormy night by taking gamers down to the depths of the ocean, and if you don’t pay attention, they just might succeed.
- H.P Lovecraft-inspired gaming
- Provides a good challenge
- Raises the bar for mobile visuals
- Almost too hard