Like all the years October has come and as in every October for the last 25 years as a good fan of comics, RPG and everything that orbits us, I make my usual tour of Lucca Comics to be able to take a look at the latest news and buy stocks for the winter. A bit like bears do during the year with food before going into hibernation. Among the various latest releases, my attention was focused on one thing I have always been waiting for ... the game books from the Cthulhu series.
Wow, for me it was a dream come true! I've always loved the saga of Lone Wolf e I have been reading for at least fifteen years signed by the good old HPL before me, so a single book that encompasses both things… well wow. As soon as I entered the Games, I slingshots at the stand of the Raven, I look around and I own the two new books mentioned above.
Back home tired, but satisfied, like every year, I throw myself on the bed and wait for Hypnos to welcome me in his arms, eager to read my new purchases.
The next day, however, just over an hour after reading the first of the two new game books, I realize that what I had on my hands was not what I expected!
Choose Cthulhu and the properties of the game books
The game books have a particularity above all that differentiates them from the normal books for daily use: the ability to create your own character sheet. I still remember, when I was little more than a teenager, the first time my brother brought my first game book "Shadows on the sand", the mythical number five of the lone wolf saga. The first thing I noticed was precisely the possibility of creating a character and, with the passing of the pages, to see him progress and grow in being, but also in having!
It's here? Well no here.
Let's start with the description of the book: a hardcover A5, slightly heavier than a set of dice. The layout is superb and the graphics are curated as if they were taken directly from the old novels that the author wrote, as well as the symbols and references to the people of the Ancients. The idea of the paper is in my opinion the gem that one would not expect! The porosity, the weight and the thickness of each single page brought me back to when I leafed through my first books on RPG.
However, on the front of the plot I have encountered some important weaknesses. Obviously, I will not be here to make a summary of the adventure, not to do too many spoilers to those who have not read it yet, so you can continue without fear. Sometimes I will go down slightly, but I will always warn you.
Railroading and little originality?
The story of Choose Cthulhu she is beautiful for charity, but nothing more and nothing less than any story called "The Call of Cthulhu" found in any collection on the Myths. I have not found typos in the press, but one thing is missing: the concrete possibility of creating an alter ego and enjoying the adventure as if you were really the protagonists of the story and, in my opinion, a "book" cannot be defined as such if he can't get me involved to the point of being able to arouse me when the character should actually try it.
This, as it is called in jargon, is a railroad. Of course, in more than one point we have crossroads with a semblance of choice, and on more than one occasion I also happened to die or go crazy, but the juice is all there, unfortunately. These are choices that are not choices, dead ends beyond which you cannot go and which therefore seem to force the reader to always take a certain predetermined path.
(Here below we have a small spoiler, open at your discretion)
Seeing your unarmed investigator finds himself in a firefight with zombies without being able to take part in it, honestly, I didn't like it very much. [/ Spoiler]
See the hit points that go up and down during the adventure, see the experience that grows and the character that matures: here is a book.
I come back to repeat that Choose Cthulhu, in my opinion it is very nice and I would definitely buy it again, in fact I can't wait for others to come out to expand my collection, but certainly not for the desire to play a book. Moreover highly recommend it to those who, like me, are fans of the mythical Lovecraft and the whole saga of the myths of Cthulhu to have another piece in its collection, but I also recommend it to all those who want to immerse themselves in a light, quiet reading and without too much effort. In fact, it took me just over an hour to read it! Two if we count the fact that I also went back several times to try the various crossroads.
A small note, however, I feel compelled to write it. I don't want to sound repetitive, but a game book is beautiful because of that interactivity that is created between reader and reading, to see your PC solving puzzles with our help, who saves people in difficulty and who defeats monsters, dragons and demons in order to finally finally be declared HERO. The Cthulhu RPG in my opinion is one of the most beautiful you can find, and if the author of Choose Cthulhu managed to implement just what makes a game game a beautiful pastime, a small unprecedented masterpiece would come out of it.
The rating that I would like to give to Choose Cthulhu it is a 7,5 out of 10 precisely because in any case it is an embryonic work that in my opinion can be developed and made mature by the wise and expert hands of the right authors.
And as the good old HP Lovecraft said:
"What can live forever is not dead, And in strange eons even death can die."