Eldritch Procedurally Generates a Lovecraftian Hell

You’re not completely disadvantaged, however. The level layouts, with their doors, broken walls and exposed passageways through floors and ceilings mean that with a revolver or a bottle and a little patience, you can take out enemies without their ever seeing you. Looting their bodies is a possibility as well — you can often find supplies you need or money, which can be spent at shops to buy new, mystical gear. Power-ups to make you faster, tougher and more capable abound if you have the money for them, all of which is great for lulling you into a false sense of security.

Because Eldritch draws from rogue-likes, death has a special significance as you delve into the dungeons. In a technical sense, you’re immortal; if you’re killed, you’ll find yourself back in the library. But dying has some very real implications, in that your progress takes a severe hit. You lose everything you’ve gathered when you’re killed by a monster, except for any money you’ve managed to store in magical bank chests. Everything else evaporates — meaning you need to venture back into the unknown to outfit yourself with the gear you need to progress.

That ever-present danger of a massive setback means every encounter in Eldritch is a tense one, and fleeing in terror is often not only a useful option, but a necessary one. This is especially true when you start to encounter the horrors that are hidden in the dungeons. There are things scarier than the spiders, floating eyeballs and cultists at the topmost levels of the dungeons, and they seek only to hunt you down and murder you. Even once you’ve made progress into the second and third dungeon, you’ll need to revisit the earlier portions of the game for the supplies necessary to your survival.

All this tension born of gameplay mechanics melds together with the Lovecraftian atmosphere built by the game’s architecture and unfolding narrative, most of which is divined from strange texts and journal notes left by the protagonist character. The dungeons themselves are mysterious as well — they clearly hold some kind of dark purpose, and you’ll find huge idol statues throughout them that convey magical powers.

As the indie gaming world continues to build on the horror genre, games like Eldritch continually add new ways to “scare” players. Though it’s a title that’ll never throw a jump scare at you, or send you into an unknown room filled with vicious gore, Eldritch subsists on atmosphere, tension and consequences. It has the capacity to create cold sweats — the kind that result from knowing you’re very vulnerable, and that you’ve got nowhere to go but down.

Find Eldritch on its official website.

Read more of Phil Hornshaw’s work here, and follow him and Game Front on Twitter: @philhornshaw and @gamefrontcom.

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