Play it This Weekend: Eldritch, A First-Person Lovecraftian Action-Adventure Now in Beta
My first trip into the strange red book didn't end particularly well, and it was as much my fault as it was the fault of the creature that killed me. I was done in by my own greed, in fact. Thankfully no lessons are ever learned too late in Eldritch, an immersive game world where you're caught in a cursed loop of death and rebirth, with your only escape obscured by cryptic texts, ungodly relics, and dangerous magic.
But let's start at the beginning, so you might learn the same lesson I did, without making the same costly mistake.
I had found myself trapped in a rather large (and rather empty) library. The only way out was really just a way further in, a book that transported me into a winding space full of monsters, artifacts, and shrines that could imbue me with their power. Soon, my left hand bore an enchantment that catapulted me into the air on demand, while in my right hand I swapped deftly between a pistol loaded with a handful of bullets and a small dagger that made up for in speed what it lacked in reach. I had a generous collection of keys in my pocket as well; though I'd found many lying around, I hadn't found much occasion to use them.
I vaulted over spike traps, crept up on and then quickly dispatched the mages and monstrous fishmen that blocked my path, and soon found myself in what was almost like an underground village-- a chamber filled with little locked rooms and cottages, each one full of food, weaponry, and the artifacts I needed to fuel the magic I wielded. I finaly had a reason to use all those keys I'd been carefully gathering. I unlocked every door and took as much as I could carry before continuing on in the general direction of the exit.
And then I saw it. I'd never seen this creature before. It was large, black, unnaturally shapeless, and like everything else down there, far from friendly. Only then did I notice the corpses littering the area. Fire mages, sickly fishmen, skittering bugs... All warning signs I'd ignored. I shot at the strange being a few times to no avail. I slashed at it once before quickly changing my strategy.
I ran like hell, and it chased after me.
Eventually I came upon a door, opening it and closing it quickly behind me. The creature grumbled and lurched about on the other side, but seemed unable to enter. In the room was another door to escape through, and a chest where I could store my artifacts in case something unfortunate were to happen to me. My equipment would still be unrecoverable, but at least it wouldn't all be for naught; I'd be able to retrieve those stored artifacts from the chest in that cursed library. I unburdened myself of all but five of the artifacts I'd collected and made for the other door. It was locked, and I was completely out of keys. It seems I'd had exactly enough to raid that little village, but not a single spare.
What could I do but put the remainder of my artifacts in the chest, turn back, and meet fate head-on?
I woke up in the library again, empty-handed, but with a much better understanding of the world I was trapped in.
Eldritch is an interesting game, but it's also one that will beg a little openmindedness from the player. If you're unable to divorce the game's visual style from its similarities to Minecraft, then its play style will throw you for a loop. Eldritch is being developed by twin brothers David and Kyle Pittman, who can count Borderlands and BioShock 2 in their pedigree, so it shouldn't be terribly surprising that this plays more like BioShock or even Dishonored than it does Minecraft. The game blends magic and skill with guns, gear, and melee combat, placing you in environments that demand the highly strategic use of both moreso than pure brute force. Of course, given that some of Eldritch's inspiration lies in roguelikes, all the loot in the world won't matter if you die like an idiot before you can make use of it.
Then again, at least you'll have learned something that might just save your skin next time.
Eldritch launched its buy-in beta yesterday, meaning that pre-ordering the game will give you access to the current beta immediately. Betas are a good way to scratch an itch for a game you're desperate to play (which is why I'm a fan of them myself), and they're also a great way to help shape and support what that game will eventually become. But they're not for everyone. While I haven't personally run into any issues with Eldritch yet, remember that betas are unfinished products, buggy and imperfect, and if you don't have the patience to deal with those issues or think they might spoil you on the game after its eventual release then you might be better off waiting.
In this case you won't have to wait very long. Eldritch's full release is scheduled for October 21st, and with luck (and a few more votes in its favor on Steam Greenlight) it may come to Steam in the future as well.
(This game was played using a review code provided on request by the developer.)
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Iris Ophelia (@bleatingheart, Janine Hawkins IRL) has been featured in the New York Times and has spoken about SL-based design at the Fashion Institute of Technology in Manhattan and with pop culture/fashion maven Johanna Blakley.