Arkham Horror , or “Arkham Horror” , is a board game based on the work of Lovecraft (Howard Lovecraft), which has existed since 1987. The latest, most recent versions of the rules were released by the Fantasy Flight Games studio . She also owns the spin-off of the main board game, Mansions of Madness , where stories are told connected by a single scenario. This is what the video game from Asmodee Digital was originally called , but in the end it turned into Arkham Horror: Mother’s Embrace . In any case, this is one of the rare computer adaptations of the popular desktop system. Naturally, questions arise: how exactly did the authors transfer the rules and how interesting is it to play?
Let’s start with adaptation accuracy. Mother ‘ s Embrace , like the original, is devoted to the investigation of mysterious and terrible events that happen in 1926 in the town of Arkham, Massachusetts. And there, among other things, the gates to other worlds open and there is a danger of the arrival of one of the ancient gods from the myths of Cthulhu. In this case, we are investigating the murder of an elderly lady and part-time professor of astronomy.
As in the original, the gameplay is a mixture of turn-based battles and detailed exploration of locations in search of key items, consumables and clues. The investigation is carried out by characters of different professions. First – only one, then more and more new ones join, and we choose who to take on the next mission. Someone shoots well with firearms, someone is better at wielding knives and fists, someone is strong in magic or begins to act faster than anyone in combat (bonus to initiative).
At the start of the game, we choose our first detective.
Plus each has a proprietary boost. For example, the federal Roland has an increased chance of inflicting critical damage, the gravedigger William, for obvious reasons, is especially resistant to various negative influences, and the parapsychologist Agatha gives everyone an increase in initiative.
Also, detectives differ in available skills, such as logic, physical strength, search, society and others. They will be needed when studying some subjects and situations. For example, you come across a closed cabinet, and if there is a person in the group with the skill of searching or physical strength, then they will tell us how to open it better.
Likewise, if we meet a frightened character, and there is a lady in the group who is experienced in social interaction, she, for example, will offer to calm him down. Everything is about the same as in the original board. But if there are no people with such skills, then you have to guess the option; in the desktop, the system is more honest and deeper – there is always a skill check and there is no guessing.
Here we will act at random.
Are you out of your mind or not?
But in Arkham Horror : Mother ‘ s Embrace there are regular sanity checks on the spot. Each character has a stock of this very sanity and an indicator of resistance to the influence on the mind (Mental Resistance). And this is very important, because every time they see something terrible, for example corpses, find photos or books of not very pleasant content, then a sanity check is turned on. And if the character fails it, then the “reserves of the mind” also decrease. And when they end, a person receives psychological trauma – his initiative in battle falls, or the chance of critical damage decreases. Or he becomes addicted to cigarettes – these items in the game increase sanity, but are harmful to health.
Heroes constantly see blood, corpses and monsters.
Injuries can accumulate up to three per character, and then they become more serious. Removing the same injury (only one at a time) is possible only if you do not take the person on the next task and give him a rest.
But that’s not all. As in the board game, Mother’s Embrace accumulates a “Mythos Clock” – it is increased by unsuccessful actions both in battle and in other cases, such as the wrong choice, how to open a box or communicate with a character. And if this level reaches its maximum, then the whole group will have a negative effect. It’s especially frustrating if it’s an increased chance of failing the next sanity check when the characters are already on edge. As a rule, only once per investigation will it be possible to find a pocket watch that can reset the counter of myths.
But such an effect does not seem fair at all …
Not exactly, but still interesting
As you can see, it seems that all the main components have been transferred from the original. Only they still have less depth – this applies to both skill tests and turn-based battles. In fights, by and large, it does not really matter which character is stronger in what, – everything mainly depends on the weapon used. And the set of tactical functions is rather commonplace – attack, movement, observation mode and a few more.
Overwatch is naturally useful if someone has a gun in their hands.
Therefore, connoisseurs of the desktop “Arkham Horror” , most likely, will not be very happy with the computer adaptation. But the rest and those who first encounter such mechanics can have fun. The plot is intriguing in a good way – there are sects here, and you have to visit the Arkham psychiatric hospital, burn the corpses of monsters, protect students, and help out friends from the trap. That is, everything is according to the standards and according to the canon, but still the story and the characters are well written – I want to know how it all ends.
There are also boss battles.
And in the gameplay itself, tension is felt all the time – mainly due to constant sanity checks and threats to increase the counter of myths by their actions. There are, of course, many conventions here, because of which, for example, it is much easier not to pay attention to frightened or injured people – they have a bad effect on our sensitive wards. Nevertheless, the game challenges and stimulates you to carefully explore the environment in search of objects that would facilitate the situation.
The weapon in battle gradually wears out, and then breaks.
Some still complain about performance and interface issues, but I haven’t noticed anything like that. Yes, the graphics here are not the most modern, but the environment pleases with an abundance of details and a seasoned atmosphere on the verge of aristocracy and madness.
Each room is full of points of interest.
In fact, it is not surprising that in the video game adaptation of a complex desktop system, developers go for simplifications – that is why it is adaptation, in computer versions it is almost always the case. But the authors of Arkham Horror: Mother’s Embrace managed the main thing – to captivate the story and characters, convey the atmosphere and make us feel the tension that people would feel when investigating terrible events in a city where one of the Ancients is about to appear.
Pros: interesting plot; sensible gameplay; an amusing system of sanity testing and psychological trauma maintains the tension; an exciting process of exploring locations in search of useful items; the atmosphere of the original; detailed study of the environment; expressive voice acting; suitable music.
Cons: compared to the board game, there are simplifications in the gameplay; the combat system is simple, although not all battles are simple.