Lovecraft’s Untold Tales, developed by Blini Games and released in 2019, was a fresh experience compared to other horror games of the time. An action RPG with an isometric view and nice pixel art, with the player controlling several characters, solving quests and battling monsters of the Lovecraftian variety. After delays and several development problems, the sequel is here and… oh boy. Better not look at it too much or you’ll go mad.
We are greeted with quite a long introduction, where several weird events and information are juxtaposed with no apparent rhyme or reason. But they do set the stage, as the player might expect to encounter that same level of horrific unexplained events (indeed!). Right from the “new story” menu, we are greeted with the strange choice of “Go” and “Back”. Hmm. We start in a mental hospital (foreshadowing, for sure), bound to a chair. Freeing ourselves, we discover the place is overrun with crazy patients and monsters, we grab a medkit and look for a way out.
The first level seems, overall, passable, but I could not help but feel something strange. The original game started in a mansion where, gradually, all mechanics were explained. The sequel tells you how to use medkits (well…), makes us choose a character out of the three available at the start (with more to unlock) and… that’s it. It doesn’t explain the stuff we are picking up, how to use “info”, what the purple items are, or how sanity works (which is not even displayed on screen). We are just left on our own.
Okay, perhaps you’ve played the original and know everything already, or perhaps I forgot to read the manual! (BA DUM TSSS) Exploring the hospital, you’re bound to encounter a group of enemies, the doors will lock and, if they trap you in a corner, that’s game over. Basically, you can’t pass through enemies, once they gang up and corner you, with poison and acid attacks, you might as well restart. Three minutes after starting and you might easily die. No, there are no difficulty options. Told you, starting in a mental hospital was foreshadowing.
And this does not feel like a “random” event, as every group of enemies behaves in the exact same manner with most of them also being bullet sponges, while our character reloads painfully slow with the default weapon. Movement is also a problem, walking on a spike trap or acid (there’s plenty at the hospital) means halving one’s health points. It is very difficult to gauge where you can walk safely as the isometric view gets confusing, it will get frustrating very fast. Looting is tedious, it is just mashing the use key and grabbing everything in sight, with each cupboard and small drawer spawning a copious amount of stuff you don’t know how to use or identify. Lore is sparse and hard to make any sense of.
The story? I have no clue what is going on. At the end of the first level, I found a guy on the floor and the game asked me to draw something to make him move. Okay? Once I did, my detective was transported to a mansion, tasked to find “more information about the artist”. O-okay. Exploring the house, I saw a cutscene explaining the background of my character and then was transported to the docks. Mission? Follow the trail of the artist. Again, I have no idea who this person even is. Confusion reigns.
Changing characters is a mechanic that the game advises you to use, which means being transported to even more levels without warning. If you did not remember to take items from your previous character and give them to your new one (the game doesn’t tell you), you’ll start with nothing. This obviously means dying in a matter of seconds in whatever level you’re transported to, because of groups of enemies ganging up on you.
I could go into more detail about the crafting system, merchants and inventory, all of which could definitely use some work, but, frankly, I fail to see the point. The gameplay is just too broken to convince anyone to persevere, especially when the first game worked decently (except for some RNG problems). But beyond the gameplay problems, for me, the moment I stopped caring is when I saw how disjointed and unconnected everything felt. If they were going for that Lovecraftian feeling of being utterly lost, well, then this is a 10.
Lovecraft’s Untold Stories 2’s only saving grace is the nice art style, especially in the cutscenes (which are just text on still images) which look quite stylish, along with the design of items. There’s little else of note since there are basically no sound effects and the music is almost absent. Sadly, there is very little to recommend here, both to fans of the previous game and, especially, to people looking for a good horror-action RPG.
Either way you look at it, from the front or from Beyond (YES, I reached my jokes quota), Lovecraft’s Untold Stories 2 is a disaster. While some of the annoyances could be addressed with patches (though the game was already like this in pre-release), there are too many problems to think this will ever transform into a decent follow-up of an interesting first title. If you’re on the hunt for a Lovecraftian-inspired action title, try its predecessor or Forgive Me Father and leave this one in Arkham Asylum.
Our Lovecraft’s Untold Stories 2 was created with a review key made available by the publisher. Lovecraft’s Untold Stories 2 is available on Steam.
Platform : [PC]
Developer: Blini Games
Genre: Action RPG
Release Date: September 2022
Lovecraft's Untold Stories 2: Lovecraft's Untold Stories 2 feels like an unfinished game, with unconnected bits of story floating around, unfair combat and tedious looting. A maddening experience you won't want to repeat any time soon. – Damiano Gerli