Call of Cthulhu: The Wasted Land

The Wasted Land is a based turn-based strategy game created by Red Wasp Design and based on the Call of Cthulhu rules set.  I picked this game up to play on my iPhone for two reasons, 1. it had the word Cthulhu in it and 2. it was based on the rules from the Chaosium game.  $4.99 is a high price tag for a mobile game these days but thankfully there is a free version of the game on iTunes which lets you get a feel for the way the game plays before shelling out all of that dough.  There is also an Android version for those of you interested.  In my case the free version definitely did its job, giving me enough of a taste of the game to convince me that guiding my group of investigators through the battlefields of World War One in search of a dark cult was well worth the paltry price of $5!

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The Good

Wasted Land does a good job following the basic rules of Call of Cthulhu.  The story-line is also engaging and adds an extra element of depth to the turn-based strategy action.  I was as interested in finding out what happened during the next mission as I was in blowing up more reanimated corpses and Leng Spiders.  I also enjoyed being able to customize the investigators between battles, spending experience gained during missions to increase skills I decided were important to particular characters.  By the end of the game I had a well trained team of specialist mythos-killing machines.

The difficulty of each game was also well balanced.  I never found myself breezing through a level on auto-pilot.  The threat of failure and character death was always real and kept me on my toes.

The Bad

Several elements of game-play were frustrating.  Some are attributable to playing the game in a touch-screen environment, like having difficulty clicking on the correct characters whenever large scale melees break out, and others are simple game flow problems that could use some work.

One of my main issues with the game is I have no idea what some of the skills are used for, even now after I’ve finished the game.  Knowledge of Cthulhu Mythos for example seems like it would be very important to a Call of Cthulhu game but I have no idea how it is actually used in the game and whether or not I wasted experience increasing the skill on some of my characters.  I also never figured out how to add extra ‘AP’ (action points) into an attack to increase the chance of it succeeding.  In the tutorial you are told you can do this but not exactly how.  I tapped on every part of the screen I could think of but was never able to get this to work.

Lastly I found myself frustrated by the fact that there is no way to ‘give up’ on a level and go back and re-equip your group.  I ended up playing one level 3 times because I had chosen equipment poorly and had no way to go back and change out what my team was using.  It would make the game infinitely more playable to allow the user to go back and retool their group after a failed mission.

The Verdict

Overall I really enjoyed this game and will most likely buy the $2.99 add-on which lets you play an additional set of scenarios, this time as the bad guy!  I would recommend this game to anyone fond of turn-based strategy, Cthulhu, or horror genre games.  The few problems I mentioned above were annoying but weren’t bad enough to keep me from finishing the game, which is saying something because I normally get bored with games long before I’ve completed them.  The story and the escalating level of Mythos involvement were both well done and kept me highly interested from start to finish.

Rating: ★★★½☆ 

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