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   Cthulhu Saves the World - Staff Review  

The World is Mine
by Michael "Macstorm" Cunningham

Cthulhu Saves the World
PLATFORM
XBLIG
BATTLE SYSTEM
4
INTERACTION
4
ORIGINALITY
3
STORY
3
MUSIC & SOUND
3
VISUALS
3
CHALLENGE
Easy
LENGTH
Less than 20 Hours
OVERALL
4.0/5
+ Combat is surprisingly deep
+ Quick and easy to pick up and play
+ Great dialogue...
- ...though not enough of it
- Often feels rushed
- Dungeons can be too long and winding
Click here for scoring definitions 

   Cthulhu Saves the World is the follow-up to Breath of Death VII: The Beginning, a parody RPG from three-man studio Zeboyd Games. Both titles feature straightforward gameplay and a great sense of humor. Though with Breath of Death releasing earlier in the same year, it leaves one to wonder: how much of a leap could Cthulhu make?

   In terms of story, Cthulhu Saves the World features a tongue-in-cheek narrative about the evil lord Cthulhu losing his powers and being forced to travel the world performing good deeds in order to become a hero. Only by becoming a true paragon of virtue can the evil, ancient one regain his powers; so in order for him to destroy the world, he must first save it. It's an entertaining romp that often breaks the fourth wall. Much like Breath of Death VII, Cthulhu Saves the World suffers from the opposite problem of many RPGs. It actually has too little dialogue and often feels rushed. Zeboyd has a knack for crafting fantastic, witty lines for all the game's characters, so it's a shame that the game leaves the player wanting more. That aside, the dialogue in cutscenes and party chat is great for a laugh and perfectly fitting within the realm of the game.

   Combat is a straightforward affair in Cthulhu, though it is fast and tight. Returning from Breath of Death are limited random encounters, in which enemies grow stronger each turn. This makes solely performing basic attacks rather ineffective for even standard enemies, let alone bosses. Thankfully, this means that players will not wander aimlessly around dungeons constantly fighting random battles, as there are only so many required in each area. It is still possible to force combat via the menu, for those who want to gain more experience. In combat, however, players must make the most of all skills and spells in order to buff and debuff to win battles in a timely manner.

Cute, yet so evil Cute, yet so evil

   This time around, players must select from a group of party members, each with their own specializations. Players are offered new skill options at each level, and characters also have their own unique skills such as Cthulhu being able to taunt enemies while defensively weaker characters can make themselves less of a target. Also depending on the party selection, unite commands are available where two characters can team up to use a powerful ability. One example of this is having Cthulhu and Umi team up to summon a Kraken that will deal out damage every turn for the rest of the battle. While Cthulhu's turn-based combat might seem a little basic, the constant upgrades and challenging boss fights show a level of depth hidden beneath the surface.

   Cthulhu Saves the World is fairly well paced. Dungeons might be a little long and winding, but the limit on the number of random battles helps balance things out. Characters have their health completely restored after each battle and also regain a little bit of magic, so players aren't completely drained at the end of standard encounters. Players can save at set locations in dungeons that restore magic points, and while that's the only way to restore magic, players can thankfully save anywhere else now as well. This helps make the game accessible for long or short bouts. It should only take about seven to eight hours to complete in normal mode, and there are easy and hard options available for those looking for varying levels of challenge. After finishing the game, other modes open up such as a mode that levels players up quickly, one that just allows Cthulhu to fight alone, and a score attack mode where players are rewarded for beating bosses at lower levels.

A romantically evil sunset A romantically evil sunset

   By no means will Cthulhu Saves the World win any awards for graphical prowess, but that shouldn't take away any credit the game's artwork deserves. The character designs and portraits are fantastic, and the facial expressions they portray during cutscenes are priceless, and often humorous. The game also features a rather impressive soundtrack. The music is very fitting and atmospheric, though it would benefit from not restarting after every encounter. The presentation makes the most of the limited resources available for the Xbox Live Indie Games platform, so while they might not be amazing, they are retro and charming.

   Cthulhu Saves the World may use Breath of Death VII as its foundation, but it does improve in many areas. The visuals are crisper and more colorful. The expanded cast allows for more variety along with the abundance of skills each character has to choose from. Being able to save anywhere is a great addition that complements the challenging combat system. While there could have been more humorous dialogue and a less rushed plot, the experience was great through and through.

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