|a game by||Ares Dragonis|
|Editor Rating:||6/10, based on 1 review|
|User Rating:||8.7/10 - 3 votes|
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|See also:||Action Adventure Games, First Person Shooter Games, Lovecraftian Games|
The books of HP Lovecraft have been read and adored by fans worldwide for decades. The cosmic horror that his works are known for has had many adaptions over the years, especially in the film industry. As of late, shows such as Lovecraft Country have caused even more fans to seek art based on his work. In 2021, developer and publisher Ares Dragonis released what could be considered some of the closest renditions of Lovecraftian horror in a video game: The Shore.
Washed Up Ashore
Set in the 1900’s, you play as an older fisherman named Andrew. After setting sail with his young daughter Ellie, they are faced with a massive storm. Due to the high winds, enormous waves, and near zero visibility; their ship is torn apart and lost at sea. You end up washed up on the shore of a beach with nothing but the soaking wet clothes on your back. You quickly discover your marooned ship, but there is no sign of other survivors – including your daughter Ellie.
The motivation is simple. Find your daughter and rescue her from the forces that have taken her. What you find out very early in the game is that this isn’t any normal island. Dark Lovecraftian creatures seem to be in control of the island. To rescue Ellie, you will have to solve the mysteries surrounding them.
The Oldest and Strongest Fear is Fear of the Unknown
When it comes to actual gameplay, The Shore tries to lean on a few different genres. There’s of course the horror element that you would expect in a game with Lovecraftian creatures, but it also focuses on exploration and puzzles as well. While the exploration element of the game is usually only active while on the surface of the island, it still offers up a feeling or satisfaction when finding a new spot. For instance, I was walking along the shore and found another crashed boat. After a bit of digging around the ship, I found this to actually be a very cool Easter egg. It was a reference to the fishing boat from the movie Jaws.
While you traverse the Shore, you’ll eventually come across a puzzle. These puzzles range from difficult but rewarding to downright confusing and frustrating. To make matters worse, there are zero hints while playing this game. It was designed to be beaten through sheer will and a lot of trial and error. In one area, I walked into a dark room with dozens of heads. With no instructions on what to do, I found yourself walking around feeling like a dunce before I just Googled the answer.
As you crouch, sprint, and walk through the island, you’ll eventually come across the antagonists of the game. These creatures take the form of many popular beings from the Lovecraft universe: the Living Monolith, the Deep Ones, the Dark Young and of course: Cthulhu himself. There’s even the introduction of newer fiends called Shagtanagotha. Much like the alien-esque designs of all Lovecraft creatures, it’s full of tentacles and a will to consume you.
When it’s your turn to combat them, the game offers little depth. You’ll either be running from them, shooting them with a beam from an artifact, or chopping at them with some sort of melee weapon such as an axe. I was excited to see some combat to offset the heavy exploration and puzzle elements. However, the controls are what make these encounters a chore rather than a part of the game you’ll be looking forward to. Too little did my movements feel precise, while the hit detection wasn’t helping either.
Setting the Mood
What will draw a lot of fans of Lovecraft and the horror genre to The Shore is the overall feel of the world Dragonis has created. It’s dark, moody, and full of lore you can explore. While reading the lore or traversing the island, you’ll hear the protagonist speak to himself. As the game moves forward, the voice actor for Andrew does a wonderful job at portraying a terrified yet determined father who is searching for his daughter.
However, the graphics may not be what you would expect from a game released in 2021, but more like a game from the late Xbox 360 and PS3 era. That’s not to say it’s still not beautiful to look at. After all, beauty is in the eye of the beholder. Not often do we see Cthulhu and all his glory in fully rendered 3D glory.
Last, but certainly not least, is the music and sound design of this game. When done right, the sound design can make or break a horror game. Luckily, the music is orchestral, and the sound is immersive. As you walk up the old, wet Lighthouse stairs, the boards creak under your feet. In the background, you’ll hear music reminiscent of Skyrim. However, the music cues during awkward parts and sometimes doesn’t match what’s actually happening. Often, I heard what sounded like combat music, but there was nothing around me.
The Shore does a few things great, but also does a few things wrong. Exploration and the puzzles are fun at first, but quickly lose any fun shortly into the game. The combat is forgettable, but the music, dialogue, and sound design are memorable. While it does fall flat in terms of a horror game, fans of HP Lovecraft’s work will still want to give the Shore a try, even if it’s just to meet the mighty Cthulhu themselves.
- The Lovecraft deities are portrayed accurately
- Great music, dialogue, and sound design
- Fun at first, but quickly becomes old
- Short at only 3-4 hours of gameplay
- Janky combat
- Little to no instructions on how to complete puzzles
Download The Shore
- PC compatible
- Operating systems: Windows 10/Windows 8/Windows 7/2000/Vista/WinXP