You Gotta Be Kitten Me
HIGH Superb animation and hand-drawn backgrounds.
LOW Kitteh deserved more spotlight.
WTF So… many… things… to… click.
From the heart of Transylvania, comes Gibbous: A Cthulhu Adventure — a gorgeous point-and-click with cosmic horror overtones and witty writing. Developed by a three-person team, it surprises with stunning visuals and brilliant animation.
Gibbous draws inspiration from classic LucasArts games like The Curse of Monkey Island and Day of the Tentacle, Romanian folk tales, Lovecraftian lore, and film noir and tells a story of the dreaded Necronomicon and the various parties trying to get hold of it.
One such character is Don R. Ketype — he’s the quintessential detective, and one of three playable characters (followed by Buzz Kerwin and Kitteh).
Ketype’s search for the fabled Book of the Dead takes him to the Miskatonic library, where he runs into Buzz. A group of crazy cultists blow up the library, and ironically, this leads to accidentally reciting a spell that gives his cat the power of speech. A few quips and a fart joke later, the three embark on a globetrotting adventure to dehumanize the feline.
Without spoiling the story, I will say that the opening cutscene sets the pace for the entire game. Although humor isn’t something one would normally associate with the Cthulhu Mythos, seeing the characters not descend into madness or experience existential despair upon acquiring knowledge of hidden truths is refreshing.
Even better, the characters in Gibbous ooze personality. Ketype’s noir-esque narrations and Kitteh’s sarcastic remarks or frequent jabs are delightful. However, it’s not only the main characters that feel compelling — the general comedic shtick and excellent writing make for memorable cast members, such as the old drunk sailor who believes coffee is the “devil’s drink,” the awfully formal Fishmouth tourist representative, and the mysterious blonde dame.
As far as gameplay is concerned, Gibbous is a typical point-and-click adventure controlled with a mouse and keyboard. Players must inspect items from the environment, solve puzzles, and interact with characters to move the story forward.
Although rather small, every environment is brimming with things to examine. Holding space highlights points of interest, and each has multiple interactions — generally one action dialogue, two or three descriptions, and the option to get Kitteh’s opinion on them. Many of them contain references to classic games or Lovecraftian works, but reading all of it can get a bit tedious over time, especially since not all descriptions are equally interesting. There are also a few situations where the humor falls flat, and cutting down on some of the less-amusing quips might have been a good idea.
The puzzles range from easy to moderate, and this is coming from a person who is very bad at puzzles. I encountered a couple that took more time to crack and one that didn’t make sense, but there was no useless backtracking, no random item mashing, and no pixel-hunting.
Although Kitteh can be used to solve some of the puzzles, I felt that she was underutilized — she’s always quietly hanging around in the background, and prompting her for help generally results in a flat refusal or sarcastic remark, which was slightly disappointing. I would have loved if she was more functional and less decorative, but I know she would disagree.
The atmosphere in Gibbous is perfectly complemented by its soundtrack, with tunes changing from forlorn violin sounds to cheery tavern music. I found the voicework to be equally good. Ketype’s husky voice and gruff tone perfectly fits his character. Kitteh is brilliant, and third character Buzz feels authentic and emotionally charged. The only real problem I had was with some of the secondary characters who have irritating voice actors, occasional background noise and some sound tearing. (The devs say they’re working on an update.)
I’ve played my fair share of indie games, but few felt as polished as Gibbous: A Cthulhu Adventure. A great deal of care has gone into its production, and despite getting pretty dark and serious towards the end, the memorable characters kept me glued and did a fantastic job of propelling the story forward — in every aspect, it’s a fine introduction to the point-and-click genre also title worthy of any veteran.
Disclosures: This game was developed and published by Stuck in Attic. It is currently available on Windows, Linux, and MacOS. This copy of the game was a paid purchase and reviewed on Windows PC. Approximately 17 hours of play were devoted to the single-player mode, and the game was completed.
Parents: This game has not been rated by the ESRB, but I would rate it as an E (everyone) for Mild Fantasy Violence. While there are no violent scenes or actual fighting in the game, players will encounter monsters and eldritch horrors along the way. The game also includes several comical depictions of characters in different states of intoxication and subtle hints towards cannibalism. The game doesn’t have any sexual content. There are no swear words, but there are a few “mild expletives” such as “damn”, “cursed”, “hell.”
Colorblind Modes: There are no colorblind modes available in the options.
Deaf & Hard of Hearing Gamers: The game can be played without sound. All dialogue is subtitled. The subtitles cannot be resized. Interactive items and descriptions also have text. This game is fully accessible.
Remappable Controls: The game is mainly played with the mouse. The main method of control is a cursor that can be moved across the screen to interact with hotspots through hovering and clicking. Pressing the middle mouse button (scroll wheel) will pull-up the inventory. Here, players can examine their items or drag them on top of each other to combine them. Holding space also highlights points of interest. These controls cannot be remapped. The game does not currently support controllers.