Is it fair to start a review of a Cthulhu-inspired game by pointing out that Lovecraftian stories and games have been done to undeath? Perhaps not, and in Gibbous – A Cthulhu Adventure it would also do the game a disservice, so I shall absolutely refrain from it.
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Gibbous is a delightful Point-and-Click with a visual style that reaches back to old classics of the genre, and a richness and softness not completely disconnected from that of the Animation Renaissance – Every scene is a joyful experience, and if you don’t feel like cheating by holding down space to highlight things of interest, you can have a good time hunting down everything to interact with.
Not Much Bite, Though
The game itself is completely linear, with a set of puzzles to solve, all which can be done through simple exhaustion of all options, and with very few exceptions you never carry anything that isn’t used either immediately or at least in the same chapter. OK, one puzzle would be VERY time-consuming if the player simply tried every combination, but the point stands. There is also no option to fail a step, or take a different path through the game. Do something wrong, and you get a fully-voiced reaction from some character, even ad nauseam, until you do the correct thing.
Point And Laugh
The name of the game sorta gives away that Gibbous is a story about the Occult, with a nod and a wink to H. P. Lovecraft’s Cthulhu Mythos, and the game doubles down on this with an early chapter being set in Fishmouth-is-definitely-not-Innsmouth, and several humorous variations on themes from that mythos and frankly almost everything else from the Gothic Horror genre.
And humour is the key to why Gibbous shouldn’t be lumped together with everything else trying to praise that old racist Lovecraft – It may have dark and mysterious settings, but the narrative is consistently lighthearted, with callbacks, in-jokes and references everywhere in the environment and dialogue.
Read All The Books
You initially play as a Romanian, from Transylvania, because of course you do, who accidentally has a speaking cat that would give any other fictitious, speaking cat a run for their money on being snarky, while also not being a raven. There’s the painfully archetypical American detective, and a young not-princess in a castle needing saving.
The varied cast is a part of how Gibbous deals with the questionable baggage it invariably carries with it, but at the same time feels like it was coming up short here, partly due to how and when it introduces them and makes use of them.
The team starts out in what could very well be Massachusetts, but is soon galavanting around the north-western part of the world, visiting France, Romania, and even an island in the middle of nowhere, and in each locale you play as 1 or 2 characters trying to solve puzzles and escaping whatever basement they find themselves stuck in this time.
Along the way you meet every kind of character imaginable, ripped from various stories, mythos, history and cultures, and all changed ever so slightly to fit in with the absurd world that Gibbous inhabits. There are plenty of stereotypes, and plenty of stereotypes that have been put on their heads as commentary. Everybody is at least a little bit off, to stay in line with the absurd, but not inherently evil, and once you’ve solved their little problem you can move along. There were perhaps 1 or 2 characters or quests I would have skipped, as they served little but to remind the player of a negative stereotype, but they didn’t detract from the overall experience
So going back to the start of this review, Gibbous is indeed a delight, an overall good story that is mostly well told, which you can enjoy independent of any prior knowledge of the stories it builds upon. The amount of facepalming you may end up doing, though, is possibly directly proportional to how many of the various references you catch, but they’ll be the good kind of facepalming.
For this outing, Gibbous is a great game, and I absolutely hope that the developers at Stuck In Attic will do more Point-and-Clicks, building on what they have here, and shoot for the moon!
Clean, attractive, cute visuals, PLENTY of excellent voice-overs and a bit of suitable music, especially to rock out to at the end. In terms of mechanics, this point-and-click has the basics covered, but can be rather tedious at times, such as when you have to hit a cat repeatedly with a book.
Nopes – everything can be solved with simple repetition, at which point the only challenge is to stay awake long enough. One point, final chapter, had me wait just over three minutes for a character to change so I could complete the last step in a puzzle, and this was neither challenging, nor…
It’s a good chuckle in plenty of places, though I suspect some requires you to be better versed in the source-materials than I am. There also weren’t a single Bank of Transylvania joke, so that’s another demerit.
A casual stroll through the game probably nets you 3-5 hours, though you can probably do it plenty faster than that, or slower if you want to.
If you didn’t read all the files at Ketype’s office, you can go back for a 2nd play through and do that, and there’s a few other bits you might not have caught, but outside of being a completionist I genuinely see little-to-no replayability in this.
The game was released August 7th, and comes in at around 20 bacon tokens depending on your location, which seems in line with what you get, but there is also a premium option for a handful more that includes a Digital Artbook and Official Soundtrack; if you already think you’re going to love the game go for that option!
Responsible for many of the day-to-day operations, for messing up website code, and generally for whipping the rest of the team into an odd shape, G took on the Evil Overlord title because the rest ran around like headless chicken. He doubles as the other main host on Rated-R, when actually around and awake.