Cthulhu Saves the World review

  • Hilarious writing and goofy characters
  • Charming retro visuals and soundtrack
  • Very accessible
  • Too linear
  • May be too short for some
  • Not enough gear to collect

Old-school role-playing games are full of reluctant heroes – scrappy loners who need a whole epic quest just to learn to care as much about others as themselves. Cthulhu is sort of like that. He doesn’t want to save the world. But he has to. Because saving the world is the only way he can destroy it.

Cthulhu Saves the World looks and plays like an old-school RPG, but in case the title didn’t clue you in, it doesn’t take itself too seriously. Cthulhu is an evil creature worshipped by many, but when power dwindles, the only way he can get it back is by becoming a true hero. So he sets off in search of people to save, evils to fight, and lost puppies to find. He’s not really saving the world to make it a better place, though. He just wants to wreak havoc once again.

Along the way he’ll join forces with an odd assortment of adventurers. There’s a young groupie who has a disturbing obsession, a senile old man who remembers absolutely nothing, and a talking sword. It’s a weird group, that’s for sure. And though the game is set in what appears to be a cliche fantasy world, you won’t be facing off against cliche fantasy enemies. Sure, there’s the odd dragon to battle, but there are also zombie cheerleaders, green alien kitties, and some dude who’s covered entirely with belts. You know, Beltman.

The gameplay itself is more traditional, with dungeons to explore, townspeople to chat with, and plenty of random battles to engage in. And finding your way through the linear storyline and world isn’t a chore. Even the dungeons, which attempt to trip you up with water puzzles and conveyor belts, are pretty simple to navigate. It’s satisfying, though. The battles are quick and challenging (especially if you play on the higher difficulty) and you are even given some freedom when it comes to how your characters evolve. Whenever they gain a level you’re given two options for how to upgrade the character. Sometimes this means picking between two different technical abilities or magic spells, and sometimes it means deciding which attributes will get a boost. It’s simple, but it works well.

But even though it’s mostly traditional, Cthulhu Saves the World also eliminates many of the frustrating elements inherent to JRPGs. Yes, there are still random battles, but if you enter into more than 25 of them in any dungeon you’ll be given the option to turn them off. There’s also no backtracking because you can simply warp back to any town you’ve previously visited. Plus, you’ll earn back both health points and magic points after each battle. There are even one-ups to collect in case you die in battle.

More important than all of those features, though, is the length. Not everyone has 87  hours to dedicate to an epic role playing experience, and Cthulhu Saves the World is made for those people. It can be completed in under 10 hours and if you really push through you can probably have it done in around six. It’s short by full-sized RPG standards, but it feels complete and never overstays its welcome.

The Indie Games section of Xbox Live is full of crap, but there are also a lot of great games to be found. Cthulhu Saves the World is one of them. It’s for players who love RPGs, players who no longer have time for the genre, or even players who just want a damn funny game. It looks old but it packs more personality than most big budget blockbusters. Cthulhu may not want be a hero, but he’s helping to save a genre.

January 7, 2011

More Info

Release date: Dec 30 2010 - Xbox 360 (US)
Dec 30 2010 - Xbox 360 (UK)
Available Platforms: Xbox 360
Genre: Role Playing


  • AuthorityFigure - January 21, 2011 1:30 p.m.

    Poor H.P. Lovecraft - he's still inspiring artists and designers a century after his writings (The Call of Cthulhu). It's such a shame that he never found any recognition when he was alive...
  • Pruman - January 20, 2011 8:49 p.m.

    Bought this last night after playing the demo. It is great so far. Feels like a forgotten 16-bit classic!
  • JohnnyMaverik - January 19, 2011 3:17 p.m.

    Big chance of it coming to PC apparently, can't wait to get my hands on this.
  • FETALJUICE - January 13, 2011 10:05 a.m.

    I love this game. Its so funny and the gameplay is rock solid. What more could you ask for a mere $3?
  • DirkSteele1 - January 9, 2011 7:33 p.m.

    I have recently rediscovered my love for classic RPGs. Thanks for drawing my attention to this. Will be my first Indie XBLA purchase.
  • talkraider - January 9, 2011 2:29 a.m.

    As in the cthulhu BP oil company unleashed
  • RamenChimera - January 8, 2011 9:26 p.m.

    So, you're saying that this game is better than Big Rigs: Over the Road Racing?!
  • skeletalbutton - January 8, 2011 10:17 a.m.

    Has anyone else noticed, that if you want to only know the review score at the END of the review, you have to somehow block out 'The Knowledge' section on the right of the screen. Please get rid of this Gamesradar.
  • TRAVthe3RD - January 8, 2011 8:36 a.m.

    so YOUR TELLING ME this is better than.... just kidding haha i was actually expecting this to be on the iphone instead of the 360, it would probably get more exposure on the iphone too
  • garnsr - January 8, 2011 7:34 a.m.

    @crumbdunky- Thank you. I did indeed miss that. I still think something in the article would be good, though.
  • nikos_the_great - January 8, 2011 6:32 a.m.

    So you're saying this game is bett- *shot*
  • crumbdunky - January 8, 2011 4:53 a.m.

    garnsr-look at the top of the page and, usually, one of the platform tabs will be darker which is a good clue and it usually states at the side panel if it's on more than one. Anyway, another good little XBLA indie game IO won't get round to playing-damn backlog!!
  • garnsr - January 8, 2011 3:55 a.m.

    Again, it'd be really great if you'd tell us what system the game is on without making us scour the review. This one only seems to come at the beginning of the last paragraph. There must be a section I'm missing that makes it easy to tell.
  • PimplesInYourAsstista - January 8, 2011 1:31 a.m.

    Ia! Ia! Cthulhu fhtagn
  • mEgAzD - January 8, 2011 1:10 a.m.

    No tentacle prawnz? Fail! Nah just kidding, hope to pick this up.
  • asljirk - January 8, 2011 12:47 a.m.

    Barkley Shut Up and Jam Gaiden, anyone? Also looks good. I'll have to pick this up.
  • flabslapper - January 8, 2011 12:21 a.m.

    wow I actually wish I had a 360 now
  • PooPSock - January 8, 2011 12:19 a.m.

    You have pretty much tied me down and forced me to buy this game. Done deal, my friend. Done deal.
  • NappyAfro - January 8, 2011 12:10 a.m.

    Wow! Since when did you guys review indie games? Awesome. I'd really love to know what Xbox Live Indie games you guys really enjoy, considering how long they've been hitting the marketplace and there's a lot of gems that seem to get no attention what so ever. I'm glad this was reviewed though. For the longest time I kept looking for a indie RPG and this one made me very happy.

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