Gibbous: A Cthulhu Adventure
Developed By: Stuck In Attic
Published By: Stuck In Attic
Category: Point and Click Adventure
Release Date: 10.28.20
Composers: Cami Cuibus
I have a definite soft spot for the point and click adventure games of eras past. That’s something I have in common with Stuck In Attic, the developers of today’s game, Gibbous: A Cthulhu Adventure. In the early goings of the game, there are numerous Easter eggs pointing to a fondness for Monkey Island and even a sort-of cameo from Tim Schafer himself. At the beginning of the adventure, I was a little afraid that the game’s numerous references may have ended up overpowering and detracting from Gibbous’ own narrative. Luckily, aside from one area occupied by the Voodoo Gentleman very early on, Gibbous treads its own path from then on, despite heavily leaning on Lovecraftian lore.
A Librarian, A Shoeless Gumshoe, and A Talking Cat Walk Into A Bar…
Gibbous: A Cthulhu Adventure tells the tale of three unlikely characters caught up in the machinations of various cults. The game opens with private investigator Don R. Ketype hot on the trail of the Necronomicon, an ancient, magical book. While speaking with a librarian at the local occult library, Ketype gets knocked out and kidnapped when cultists set off a bomb in the library. Buzz Kerwan, the librarian, discovers the Necronomicon hidden in his library and, in a panicked state, brings it home with him. Not exactly thinking straight, Buzz accidentally uses the Necronomicon to give his kitty, Kitteh, the ability to speak, a condition Kitteh finds unwelcome and which Buzz is unable to reverse. The pair set off the find Ketype, get some answers regarding just what the heck the Necronomicon is, and turn Kitteh back into a normal cat.
After some investigative shenanigans, the reunited trio find themselves embroiled in a globe-spanning Cthulhu cultist plot orchestrated by the mysterious Butcher. Along the way they meet dozens of uniquely deranged allies and adversaries, visit a few quirky and creepy locales, and solve puzzles through ingenuity, random guessing, and chucking rotten eggs at this one guy. Throughout its journey, the game maintains a wonderful sense of humor that is equal parts slapstick and self-aware, which, coupled with a sharply-written script keeps the adventure feeling lively and fresh the whole way through. Sadly, the game doesn’t exactly stick the landing at the end.
While the cult storyline comes to a satisfying conclusion, Gibbous then chooses to include a few bits of confusing imagery at the very end. They don’t even come close to ruining the rest of the experience, they just served to muddy the waters of the game’s conclusion just enough to create the sense that the story is not resolved. Perhaps these few scenes are merely setting up a sequel, which would be fine, but there are ways to do that which don’t make this game end up feeling a little incomplete. I’m not sure if things would make more sense if I was more familiar with Lovecraftian lore, but I never really felt like that knowledge was necessary during the bulk of the game.
Find All The Stuff
Being inspired by point and click adventures of the past, Gibbous: A Cthulhu Adventure doesn’t exactly blaze new trails in terms of gameplay in the adventure genre. That’s not a complaint; there’s no reason to fix what isn’t broken. Sometimes you control Don, and sometimes you control Buzz. They can both look at objects, pick up certain items, manipulate some mechanisms, and talk to NPCs; all fairly standard for the genre. Buzz is most frequently teamed up with Kitteh, whom he can send to climb certain surfaces and retrieve/manipulate objects there. Don eventually gains the Mark of the Haunter, which allows him to read the past of objects, which helps him find clues he otherwise wouldn’t have access to.
I didn’t find myself having too much trouble with a lot of the game’s puzzles. Some took longer than others just because they were more complex, but I seldom found myself actually stuck – except twice. For one it turned out I had just missed a required item – not uncommon, as veterans of the genre know all too well. The other, which required me to light candles around a pentagram accompanied by selected words from a set of books on a nearby shelf, was almost embarrassingly obvious in retrospect. That’s not to say I got every puzzle immediately, just that they all could be worked out if you applied some logic and explored every area thoroughly.
An Animated Aesthetic
In addition to its assortment of Easter eggs, Gibbous: A Cthulhu Adventure’s visuals are also heavily influenced by Schafer’s body of work. The art style of the backgrounds are reminiscent of Day of the Tentacle and the Monkey Island series, and the hand-drawn character models shared a similar style to Full Throttle and The Curse of Monkey Island. Don’t misunderstand me, the areas and characters had their own unique motifs and designs, but the art styles were very similar, and there are worse styles to emulate. The audio track is equally impressive; Gibbous is fully voice-acted, which is something you don’t see very often in indie releases. The extensive voice cast deliver performances which range from pretty good to really great, which helps the snappiness of the game’s script really come to life.
Gibbous: A Solid Cthulhu Adventure, Stellar Point and Click Tribute
Gibbous: A Cthulhu Adventure never lets the fun stop until the very end. The gameplay maybe isn’t all that original, but it uses a tried and true format that doesn’t detract from a wild, amusing, adventure replete with memorable characters, intriguing locales, and a compelling central mystery. It looks great, sounds great, and plays smoothly. If you have any affection at all for the heyday of Tim Schafer’s LucasArts adventure games, this is a must-play. If you don’t you’re a bad person, but you still won’t regret giving this game a try.
Gibbous: A Cthulhu Adventure
Digital – $19.99
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The Switch Effect was graciously supplied a code for review purposes.