Anyone who has ever played the board games Arkham Horror or Elder Sign will know that, more often than not, investigating some Great Evil usually ends with either a violent, bloody death or becoming a gibbering, insane wreck. Upcoming PC game The Occult Chronicles from Cryptic Comet looks set to provide no exception to that rule.
The Occult Chronicles is the brainchild of Cryptic Comet games, an outfit previously known for its deep, complex strategy games Six-Gun Saga, Solium Infernum and Armageddon Empires. The developer describes the game as a "computer turn-based strategy game whose design is heavily influenced by both modern adventure board games and the classic roguelike formula." Players are cast in the role of an investigator sent to determine what is going on at the obligatory creepy old mansion out in the country. By exploring the mansion, you'll be presented with all manner of different challenges and must attempt to survive as long as possible without either dying or going insane.
The game features a peculiar combination of top-down adventure, role-playing and card game mechanics. You'll begin by creating a character and assigning them points in the four suits of the Tarot deck: Swords, Wands, Cups and Pentacles. Each of these corresponds to an appropriate ability -- swords represents physical capability, for example, while wands represents mental and psychic challenges.
When you're presented with a specific challenge, you're given options on how to proceed according to what skills you'd rather attempt to use. Once this happens, you're taken into a card game whereby you must take tricks of tarot cards by playing cards from your hand and exceeding the value of those on the table. Depending on whether you succeed or fail, you'll then be presented with an array of face-down cards that conceal either good or bad things according to how the challenge went.
As in the board games that have provided the clear inspiration for The Occult Chronicles, you'll find yourself collecting items and improving your investigator's abilities as you progress through the game, and will also be challenged to complete various quests. There looks like being a lot of possible ways through the game -- and, of course, a lot of ways to die.
The Occult Chronicles is available now via a beta buy-in program -- $14.99 will get you access now, on the understanding that the game isn't quite yet feature-complete or bug-free. Cryptic Comet estimates that the game will be pretty much finished later in the spring, but in the meantime it's keen to get feedback from beta players to improve the experience for everyone.
Find out more at the official site.