In recent years, more and more titles are directly inspired by the immense Lovecraftian imagery, or that take advantage of certain characteristics: just think of independent titles able to grow and carve out a good slice of the market, so as to earn a physical release such as Lovecraft's Untold Stories, or much more noble games that, despite not having Lovecraft as a central core, wisely exploit its characteristics (someone said Bloodborne?), and even productions that despite having a decent budget and the freedom of approach to the contents of the Providence writer, have not managed to fully convince the public (this, for example, is the case of Call of Cthulhu). In this case we are faced with an old-style graphic adventure, which wisely exploits a good pixel art during gameplay, alternating it with a curated cell shading for the narrative phases. It is about Chronicle of Innsmouth: Mountains of Madness, the second chapter in the series that precedes the events of the first Chronicle of Innsmouth by about ten years. If the in-game time runs backwards, instead the playful structure of this point and click adventure takes a small step forward, abandoning the never too much appreciated SCUMM system typical of the historical Lucas titles, moving on to the more streamlined construction through retractable inventory and use of the different mouse buttons. So let's go into detail in the review of the title developed by the team of Psycho Dev.
Survived the horror
Lone Carter is a private investigator of Arkham, hired by the librarian of the city university to investigate his brother, who has long since disappeared and of whom there is no news after he went to the port city of Innsmouth. As we will understand from the first moments in-game, it seems that fate for Detective Carter is very particular, apparently escaping death by the hand (or rather, by "tentacle") of one Shoggoth. The town has a sinister atmosphere and the population seems to be mentally misled by something. The only sane person (and that's saying a lot) is a former ship captain who has turned to alcohol, with the help of which Lone will be able to distract the villagers and head to the railroad leading to Arkham. Not long before, however, in the ice of Antarctica, an expedition of explorers and scholars is making the discovery bigger than mankind will remember.
Proceeding further in the plot would be tantamount to making event spoilers, given that the evolving situation regarding Lone and the adventure companions she will meet is full of reversals and secrets to be discovered as you play. Clearly some of the reconstructed topics and events have to do with the novel of the same name HP Lovecraft, To the Mountains of Madness, but the influences and some other parts are inspired by the rest of the imagery created by the writer. In the course of events, moreover, we will also have the honor of checking Lovecraft himself for a small scene, as well as the Crazy Arab (complete with writing the Necronomicon in tow).
Too small a painting
On a playful level, Chronicle of Innsmouth: Mountains of Madness stands out as a very simple title in mechanics. As anticipated, compared to the predecessor, a more streamlined game system was preferred, making use of the retractable inventory placed at the top of the screen, with the possibility as usual - if needed - to combine certain objects. The adventure is kept on a medium-low level of difficulty, with only a couple of puzzles that prove to be more difficult to solve, while in some cases we will find ourselves solving uncomfortable situations (a bit like Monkey Island) with the classic method " by trial and error ".
However, the various sections of the game will be very "limited", also due to one marked linearity of events and a small number of backdrops per section, which further reduces the possibilities to "feel" in case of doubts or in case you get stuck. The adventure it is not excessively long-lived, which is promoted without infamy and without praise because it does not stretch the broth unnecessarily, but is based on an always interesting and continuous narrative. One of the flaws found, and that in a game with a narrative depth would have been the maximum, is the lack of a mini section in the menu or in the inventory where you can summarize the latest dialogues, in case there was a need to retrieve some information . For the rest, the quality is more than pleasant: simple but suggestive pixel art, not bad dubbing, and a localization present for all the menus and texts (but not the items).