Arkham Horror: Mother’s Embrace – Review

Arkham Horror: Mother’s Embrace is a detective adventure and turn-based strategy game.

You choose one of seven characters as your main protagonist for the whole game. Every character has different stats, a different trait, a back story, and a unique voice. As soon as you did that, the game starts.

Wilhelmina Tillinghast, a professor of Astronomy at Miskatonic University invited you over to her house. As you arrive, no one opens the door but the lights are on… so you break the window to get into the house. Soon after that, you’ll hear screaming from another floor. As you search for her, a detective arrives. Together, you find her body and mysterious man, who you’ll need to fight.

As you probably know, Arkham Horror: Mother’s Embrace is set in the world of H.P. Lovecraft’s Cthulhu mythos. It’s safe to assume that the story gets supernatural in some kind of way.

Your team of detectives will get bigger throughout the story. More people will join you and help you find out what happened to Wilhelmina Tillinghast.

Arkham Horror: Mother's Embrace - Review

Gameplay

The gameplay loop consists of adventure elements and turn-based fights. You’ll walk around the environment and search for clues, people, and objects. You’ll need to talk to people, break things, and so on. Stats of your characters define how successful your actions are just like in a board game.

Many of them also let you choose what you do (e.g. try to break a box, shake it or look at it). Your characters can give you hints to let you know which of those actions will be successful.

Some cruel things will happen down the line and your character’s mind will suffer from it. The game will automatically roll a dice and if you miss the test, your character loses one sanity point. If your sanity reaches zero, your character gets a trauma that will negatively affect him in some way. Between scenarios (missions) you can leave your character at the bureau. If you do that, his trauma will disappear.

Besides sanity, your characters have health points. Just like in most games, your character dies if his HP reaches zero. You can revive them in a fight with items. There is no permadeath in the game.

Let’s talk about turn-based fights.

There is a timeline on the upper screen which shows the order of characters making their move. This gets decided through the individual initiative of every character.

You have 5 Action Points. Every action costs one to five AP. Different weapons have different stats and cost different AP to use. There is magic to use as well as some abilities like Overwatch.

The voice acting is good enough IMO, even if many reviews on steam say otherwise. It may have something to do with me not being a native English speaker but I know some other games with very bad voice acting. The graphics and the sounds are okayish.

Some things will get on your nerves early on. For example, almost after every object, you inspect the camera will change and a “cutscene” will start – even if it just for one sentence. It feels unnecessary and disturbs the otherwise fluent gameplay.

Well, it would be fluent if your character wouldn’t move like a tank or get stuck on edges and these “cutscenes” often feel cheap because what they say and how their mouth moves don’t match at all. Animations in general are very generic and repetitive.

The camera often feels like it is in the wrong position or too close to the character which is another bad thing they should work on.

The adventure elements are very expendable, too. You’ll mostly click on everything you can see and find and that’s it. There aren’t challenging puzzles. There isn’t even a mode where you can combine clues to find something out (like in The ABC Murders).

Add to that, that the turn-based fights are pretty generic, too, and not too innovative or hard, there is not much left to like you will assume and in some way this is true.

Summary

Mixed reviews on Steam show that there is much to dislike about this game – but keep in mind that this is a 20€/USD game and nothing more (On sale you can even get it for 15,99€). I feel like many people expect way too much for that money.

The game offers a pretty interesting story and thanks to the fast-paced switch between turn-based fights and story elements it doesn’t get boring at all.

If you mainly want a tactical turn-based strategy game, this is nothing for you.

If you’re into an atmospheric detective adventure with easy turn-based fights and can turn a blind eye to those little flaws, you should definitely check this out on a sale.

Credits

AuthorCurtis Pyke
YouTuberThe Indie Gaming Guild
ProgramFreedom! Scholarship
PublisherMGN
GameArkham Horror: Mother’s Embrace

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