Steve “Stiv” Tramer returns to talk about this roguelike tribute to Lovecraft.
It’s kind of unfortunate, but there’s not really a whole lot that’s worth saying about Eldritch, a roguelike-like dungeon crawling game which draws loose inspiration from Lovecraft. Hold on here – let’s back up a minute. Just in case you don’t know what a roguelike is, they’re dungeon crawling games – turn-based, with a top-down perspectively, usually primitive graphics – that have large amounts of randomized content, punishing difficulty, and permanent death. There’s been a wave in the last few years of “roguelike-like” games, which take some of these elements (usually the randomization and permanent death) and tie them into new genres. We’ve gotten arcade platformers (Spelunky), space combat sims (FTL: Faster Than Light), and now an immersive sim that is kind-of-sort-of a horror thing in the form of Eldritch. Just in case you’re on the internet and don’t know who Lovecraft is, he was a horror author of the early 20th century who was paid by the word and as a result had a talent for writing incredibly long, descriptive prose which told the reader basically nothing about what was happening. Also because his work is in the public domain, we’re regularly subjected to what is pretty much Lovecraft fanfiction. In fact the majority of what people think of as the “Lovecraft mythos” is actually early-era Lovecraft fanfiction written by a fellow named August Derleth, who was a friend of Lovecraft and published many volumes of his work but was not a great writer. So here we are now, with Eldritch, the video game equivalent of August Derleth.