What to expect
Lovecraftian-themed story and setting. Murder mystery plot. Amazing narration. Adventure-style exploration and investigation. Limited turn-based combat. Sanity and Mythos mechanics. Environment interaction. Clue mini-games. Select from a roster of twelve investigators. Fair enemy variation and competency. Small, focused range of items. Mini-inventory requires management. Limited replayability. A few critical issues. Plus a few minor ones. Single-player only.
- ACHIEVEMENTS: MOSTLY ORGANIC.
- STATUS: REQUIRED ADDITIONAL SUPPORT.
- WHEN TO BUY: NOW FOR FANS. OR WAIT FOR SOME CRITICAL FIXES
From the unimaginable depths beyond human perception comes Arkham Horror: Mother’s Embrace (AH:ME). A game developed using the deliciously dark imagination of developers Asmodee Digital. Played in third-person AH:ME fuses the point and click exploration of adventure games, with turn-based tactical combat.
In an atmospheric setting familiar to fans of the infamous boardgame, players control a group of investigators in their quest to unravel a mystery of cosmic proportions. A Lovecraftian themed story courses through a series of linked chapters tinged with supernatural horror. Each one taking place in wonderfully rendered locations that align perfectly with the genre’s origins.
As the party moves through a level potential clues must be examined to progress towards the chapter’s conclusion. These can manifest as simple, multiple-choice mini-games. Selecting the wrong choice tests the sanity of the investigators present. If failed to many times, investigators will crack and develop traumas that will detrimentally affect the use of their abilities.
Representing the invasive supernatural powers of those whose name should not be spoken [The Old Gods] is the Mythos clock. The hands of this malignant timepiece can tick over for numerous reasons; in combat, looking at a terrifying image, reading an obscure text, even using an item. Once this clock strikes midnight the reach of The Old Ones manifests into reality, affecting the investigators in a bad way.
Numerous enemies stand between the group and their ultimate objective. When these nefarious individuals are encountered, turn-based combat ensues. These are viewed in the same perspective as the rest of the game and are fought with melee weapons, firearms and spells. Combatants use initiative to resolve turn order and action points to determine what they do. There are seven actions available from selecting a preferred weapon, to overwatch, to using items to heal or buff.
Between cases investigators return to their shared office where injured and sanity stricken investigators can recuperate. Before starting on the next case, two investigators are chosen from the available roster. Items collected from previous levels can be divvied out from a shared inventory.
- Graphically appealing.
- Atmospheric locations capture the spirit of the 1920’s Lovecraftian setting.
- Mostly good narrative and dialogue writing.
- Very good quality voice-acting. Supported by some apt audio.
- Enough varied encounters and situations to keep play interesting.
- Narrative and dialogue can be skipped. Even during the first play.
- Good range of melee, ranged and magic combat. Each item or spell with its benefits and penalties.
- Very linear story/plot. Very limited replayability.
- BUG: Issues with damaged and corrupted saves, checkpoint autosaves and their failed loading.
- BUG: Pathing issues when interacting with clues, leading to softlocks.
- BUG: Game can freeze at certain points. Unverified but experienced heavy GPU fan usage at some points in the story.
- Localisation issues with some languages.
- Slow clunky movement movement animations for the main characters.
- No dodge/parry/defend possible in melee, leads to limited combat strategies.
- Enemies do not drop any inventory items after being felled.
..and the Ordinary
- Choose your team of two investigators from up 12x characters.
- Nine chapters provide a game length of around 15h.
- Good turn-based combat.
- Adequate range of items but only a restrictive mini-inventory. Requires management.
- Great representation of the Mythos clock and sanity mechanics. Just not balanced enough. Biased against the player.
Fans of the well-known boardgame would need to be insane if their expectations for Arkham Horror: Mother’s Embrace did not reach a higher plane of existence. Despite the existing Cthulhu-themed games that made it to PC, this particular one is essentially what [I have/We’ve all] been waiting for. However, it would seem that the Old Ones have been stretching their tentacles and affecting its quality from beyond the veil.
Arkham Horror: Mother’s Embrace delivered a worthwhile experience for those preferring their game to play more like the physical version, than a regular adventure on PC. Its quality visuals and well-executed audio created a convincing foil that perfectly aligned with expertly penned story and dialogue. No surprises given it was penned by the team of writers responsible for the physical version. The voice-acting particularly brought to life the individuals crazy enough to investigate the horrors awaiting them within.
The representation of sanity and the Mythos clock was the key aspect of this game. Both were in keeping with the boardgame yet seemed overly punishing, like a cultist’s cudgel landing on an unsuspecting character’s head. This stemmed from too many checks occurring sequentially within a very short period of time. Not having enough counters to these proved overly unfavorable to the player.
With seven possible actions and a fair few weapons including magic, turn-based combat worked well but felt lacking in defensive strategies. Limited inventory delivered a much-needed conundrum in what to carry during the investigation. Incorporating combat within the third-person framework looked a brave decision. Perhaps moving to a tile-based layout would have reduced its clunky feel! Having to confirm every action felt unnecessary, prolonging each encounter. The way item quality diminished may not be agreeable to some but ensured searching for new weapons remained important.
Problems affected the experience of some players. Minor problems such as localization issues and softlocking when characters that become stuck were tolerable. Others such as; the game locking up from time to time and saves disappearing, becoming corrupted or failing to load were much more serious. Personally, I felt lucky to have only encountered the softlocks so far. Movement in and out of combat had a clunky quality to it. Likely due to the game engine used.
Fans of the brilliant boardgame should investigate whether they can look past the negatives and pick-up a copy. As should fans of investigative adventure reminiscent of the Sherlock Holmes games but steeped in horror. Even though I am not a great fan of this genre, I really appreciate the mechanics used in Lovecraftian-themed games. Despite having a soft spot for these and enjoying my time with Arkham Horror: Mother’s Embrace, I can only give this game a MAYBE recommendation.
Mainly due to game-breaking issues reported outside my experience. When these are addressed I do believe AH:ME will become a game that opens the door to the Lovecraftian genre for many players. One that will see me purchase any forthcoming sequels, despite the embedded lack of replayability. Isn’t that a terrifying thought!