Have you ever heard about the Arkham Horror line of games? It's not the most popular one, but still, it qualifies as one of the best cult classics in the world of board games. That's why we were really interested in this PC adaptation called Arkham Horror: Mother's Embrace... until we played it.
No, It's Not a Batman Game (It's a Cthulhu Game!)
Many of you probably associate the name Arkham with the Batman mythos, and that's okay because we're talking about the most popular asylum of them all, not only fictional ones. However, Arkham is also one of the most famous places created by H. P. Lovecraft, and that city is where this game takes place.
Yes, this may not be a Batman game, but being a part of Cthulhu's universe is equally cool... or even more so! In Arkham Horror: Mother's Embrace, the protagonists—much like Batman himself—must use their detective skills to solve a murder mystery that slowly turns into a larger cosmic drama, with cults and ancestral monsters involved. Are you willing to lose your sanity in order to find out what's going on?
Not All Board Games Work as Video Games
We've played Arkham Horror before, in board game format, and we must say we really enjoyed its mechanics and lore. That can't be said about this video game, unfortunately, as it feels terribly unpolished and boring in comparison not only to its tabletop counterpart but also other similar video games. The idea behind Mother's Embrace is that you pick your favorite investigator, all of them with unique stats and background, and then you do your best to gather clues and recruit new allies to your cause.
Instead of adapting a board game, something that has been done many times before, Mother's Embrace tries to combine turn-based combat and third-person point-and-click exploration. Needless to say, it didn't work out as intended. The characters move too slow, and the animations don't look good. Actually, there's a button to accelerate the movement, but it's more like a placebo. For that reason, it's hard to find yourself enjoying the exploration portion of the game... which is sad. Even if you can ignore that, sanity checks and combat damage calculation don't even try to be as exciting as one would expect. On top of that, unless you're a really bad player, everything is so easy that most mechanics feel pointless anyway. Thanks to the Mythos Clock and how it penalizes you for making the wrong decisions, it could have been a fine little horror game about inventory management and casual turn-based strategy... but what's the point of it all when you can still finish the game without thinking about the consequences of your choices?
Please, Don't Talk
So let's say Arkham Horror: Mother's Embrace is not fun to play, but what about the lore and storytelling? That's always the most important part of any game, novel, or movie inspired by Lovecraft's work, right? Well, it kinda works, to be honest, but the voice acting is so annoying and badly edited that it's hard to connect with the characters.
It's tough to recommend this game to you. Hardcore fans of the Arkham Horror board games will see it as an unworthy cash grab, and gamers, in general, will definitely notice there are a lot of things wrong with this title. In fact, we don't want people to think Arkham Horror is a bad board game just because their first experience with the franchise was this flawed video game. Still, it could be a delightful experience for those who only care about expanding the Cthulhu mythos and don't really analyze video game mechanics.
It's an enthralling horror story that happens to be part of a poorly developed video game...