H.P. Lovecraft is famous for a brand of cosmic horror which has been imitated numerous times. However, no one has ever told Lovecraftian stories quite like him. His entire Cthulhu mythos is about ancient beings who come to Earth and bide their time until the day they will devour humanity and the world as a whole. What made his monsters stand out is that they are beyond human comprehension: anyone who sees them or tries to understand them ends up going mad, or dying.
Video games have tried to adapt his stories and show gamers that cosmic dread. However, many have failed in numerous aspects. But not the ones on this list. These video games have done a bang-on job deciphering the essence of Lovecraftian tales and transferring them to another medium of entertainment. Not all of them are survival horror, but they are all faithful to the source material.
Dark Corners of the Earth is a relatively faithful retelling of H.P. Lovecraft’s Shadow Over Innsmouth. You play as a detective called Jack Walters who encounters a cult that calls itself the Fellowship of Yith. Walters’ brush with them leads to him spending half a decade in an insane asylum. When he finally comes out, he decides to visit Innsmouth to solve a missing person case.
The game has a number of nightmarish creatures, and the longer you gaze at them or encounter them, the more your sanity drops. Your vision blurs, you grow increasingly insane, and you can even commit suicide, according to GamesRadar.
Bloodborne is a tough Souls-like game, with punishing combat and dark themes. The game is not directly based on any Lovecraftian story, but its mythos and themes are clearly influenced by the horror writer. You can see this through creatures like the Kin, which resembles Lovecraft’s vision of the Great Old Ones, plus the dark, oppressive atmosphere and the bleak ending.
In the game, you play a character who travels to a city called Yharnam to find a cure for an unspecified illness. As luck would have it, you arrive on the night of ‘the hunt’: a purge of fantastical beasts that torment the city.
Unlike the other games on this list, Cthulhu Saves the World makes fun of the source material whilst honoring it at the same time. You play as the titular creature, which has risen from the sunken city of R’lyeh to drive all humans mad and take over the world. However, he loses his powers when he reaches Earth, and the only way he can regain them is by actually saving the world. So, he has to save the world so he can destroy it.
The 8-bit game is packed with jokes, Lovecraftian towns like Dunwich, and evil deities that stand in your way.
Like Bloodborne, this game is inspired by the Cthulhu mythos more than being directly based on it. You play as Alexandra Roivas, a woman who tries to solve her grandfather’s mysterious murder as she stays in his Rhode Island mansion. The bulk of the game revolves around the Tome of Eternal Darkness and the creatures which made it. This is a book which grants magic, similar to the Necronomicon. Like Dark Corners of the Earth, your character can go insane. But in an interesting addition, the game can also delete your save files; its attempt at driving you, the player, mad.
Quake is popular for its slick multiplayer modes. However, its single-player campaign is basically an homage to the Cthulhu mythos. In the campaign, the government has developed teleportation technology in the form of ‘slipgates’, but a force identified only as “Quake” hijacks these slipgates. It starts using them to transport demons to our world. Your mission is to blow all these demons to kingdom come.
The game features a ton of Satanic imagery, but it also has numerous nods to Lovecraft. These include a level called The Nameless City, an enemy called the Formless Spawn of Tsathoggua, and a boss called Shub-Niggurath.
Eldritch is basically Minecraft meets the Cthulhu mythos. In the game, you control a 1920s-era investigator and explore the deepest, darkest parts of tombs as you seek ancient artifacts: basically, the souls of the Great Old Ones. The enemies are all Lovecraftian, from giant penguins to cultists and fishmen. In the Nyarlathotep stages, you will encounter ghoulish wanderers that you can’t kill; your best chance is to postpone them. According to PC Gamer, these stages also feature an enemy who can blend into his surroundings and suddenly pop up in front of you, delivering tons of jump scares.
The game world is procedurally generated, and if you die, you lose all your items.
It’s December 1887. London has become Fallen London after sinking into an underworld place called the Neath. The surrounding ocean is underground and completely uncharted. You play as the captain of a steamer, and your goal is to keep your crew alive and try to make a name for yourself as you explore this vast ocean.
Needless to say, the ocean has numerous hidden terrors, including Lovecraftian monsters and otherworldly structures. You can lose your entire crew, and the captain grows less sane the deeper you venture. And if everyone dies, you can try again. However, the islands will be rearranged, changing your experience.
Conarium is about the closest we are going to get to an adaptation of H.P. Lovecraft’s At The Mountains of Madness. You play as an Arctic expedition member called Frank Gilman. You wake up to find your base is deserted and you have an inconvenient case of amnesia. As you explore the base and try to figure out what happened, you’ll find diary entries, letters, audio recordings and more. These will help you to piece together the story.
The gameplay itself is almost non-existent, and it has more in common with walking simulators than with regular puzzle games. That said, the puzzles are fun and challenging.
Darkest Dungeon is a tough role-playing game about the psychological pressures that come with adventuring. The game starts with your character learning that they have just inherited a manor from a relative who went insane and committed suicide. He discovers terrors in the areas close to the manor, which caused his suicide. Your mission is to clear these dungeons.The good news is you can recruit up to four characters to help you out. But the bad news is that they can become stressed. The more stressed they are, the less effective they become in combat, and their chances of dying go up.
In Sherlock Holmes: The Awakened, the world’s greatest detective is bored with his regular cases with small-time criminals. He looks for a case with higher stakes, and he finds one with probably the highest stakes ever. When investigating a string of kidnappings, he discovers that they are tied to a cult which is trying to summon Cthulhu. Suddenly, it’s not just 19th-century London that he’s trying to save, but the whole world.
The game’s creators decided against focusing on the Lovecraftian creature. Instead, they focused on the growing tensions between Holmes and the evil cult. It makes for a tense and atmospheric experience with a strong sense of dread.