Call of Cthulhu

Game review by
Paul Semel, Common Sense Media
Call of Cthulhu Game Poster Image
Disturbing, slow-building dread around simple mystery game.

Parents say

age 12+
Based on 1 review

Kids say

age 17+
Based on 1 review

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this game.

Positive Messages

Despite overwhelming odds, main character is persistent and focused on solving the case that he's been hired to figure out.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Main character continues to do his job despite adversity he faces. While his persistence is notable, he's also an alcoholic who frequently breaks the law to get what he wants.

Ease of Play

Gameplay is easy to learn, and the problems you have to solve are never that tough.


Disturbing images of blood, gore, torture. Not all violence is committed by people; some is done by monsters or otherworldly creatures. While players do have a gun and can shoot characters, this isn't a shooter; players have limited moments where this is an option during play.


Sounds of people having sex are overheard, but nothing is ever seen during play.


"F--k" is occasionally used in dialogue.


Game may prompt players to read H.P. Lovecraft stories, including the one the game is based on.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

A number of characters are shown drinking in a bar, and player is often shown drinking and complaining about his alcoholism. You also find drugs in a drawer and will have separate conversations about their effects.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Call of Cthulhu is a scary first-person adventure game for PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, and Windows PCs. Based on the occult horror story by H.P. Lovecraft, and the pen and paper adventure game of the same name, this scary adventure game has disturbing imagery and tons of blood and gore, although not all of the violence is caused by human hands -- some comes from monstrous beings. There's also some gunplay, such as when you shoot a man who's shooting other people, but apart from limited sequences, this isn't a shooter -- it's a mystery adventure. The dialogue includes a "f--k" or two, as well as a scene in which drugs are located and discussed, though not used. More present is the significant use of alcohol by both our hero, who's an alcoholic, and other characters. Playing this game may prompt players to read the titular story, or others by Lovecraft, most of which are disturbing.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written byHigh boy February 16, 2020

Great game

The sex and drugs and swear are not the worst it say the f word 2 times and not any sex from what I’seen my son play the blood is pretty bad thought
Teen, 17 years old Written byDragonShadow August 22, 2020

Scary, disturbing, but a good game

The game is a great mystery but there are parts that include jump scares and disturbing imagery. Fear of the dark is a big part of the scare factor.

What's it about?

In CALL OF CTHULHU, a Boston-based private investigator in 1924 is hired to look into the death of a man's daughter and her family, a death she may have caused. Playing as the detective, you have to explore a mysterious island, where you have to use your skills of observation, deduction, conversation, and problem-solving if you want to figure out what happened ... and survive. Inspired by the occult horror story by H.P. Lovecraft, and by the tabletop role-playing game of the same name, this freaky adventure game has a deep story that will disturb you to your core ... or possibly make you want to read more of Lovecraft's stories.

Is it any good?

Based on H.P. Lovecraft's classic 1926 occult story, this adventure game is really scary, but it develops the chills in a very slow, plodding way that will appeal only to horror fans. In Call of Cthulhu, you're a hard-boiled detective in 1924 who travels to a mysterious island near Boston to investigate the death of a family. The cause may or may not be the fault of the mother, an accomplished painter who either has mental problems or psychic abilities. As you talk to the locals, examine their surroundings, and solve situational problems that give you access to other areas and other people, you slowly uncover what may have happened, even if the explanation strains what you know about the natural world. 

While this game is as freaky and scary as the short story that inspired it, you have to be in the right frame of mind for it. And not just the mood to be scared. The game can be slow and plodding, and there's little in the way of reflex-testing action or seriously complex problem-solving. Even when you reconstruct crimes committed by the many different characters you stumble across, it's a simple process, and often just requires you to find missing items instead of putting them together in a puzzle-esque way. What Call of Cthulhu lacks in finger-flexing action, though, it more than makes up for in atmosphere, and in tests of your observational skills. All versions of the game manage to evoke these spooky surroundings, although the Switch version may have muddier textures and visuals apart from the pre-made cutscenes that suddenly pop into view due to its less powerful hardware. But on the up side, there's virtually no other technical issues, letting you dive into the creepy environments at your own pace. As a result, if you're in the mood for something slow and scary, Call of Cthulhu will really make you feel like you've walked into the twisted mind of H.P. Lovecraft.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about violence in video games. Is the impact of the violence in Call of Cthulhu affected by the frequently violent and disturbing imagery shown to fill you with dread? Would the intensity of the game be affected by not showing the same amount of gore?

  • Does playing Call of Cthulhu make you want to read this story, or other stories by the same writer? Can you name other games that are based on books?

Game details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love scares

Themes & Topics

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