Call of Cthulhu isn’t just a tabletop RPG. In addition to the short story that inspired it all, Call of Cthulhu could refer to two different video games: a game that came out in 2018, and another one that came out thirteen years previously. I own both, but for the purposes of this article, I will be referring to the 2018 version, which was developed by Cyanide.

One question I came across recently is why Call of Cthulhu is rated M. I thought this would be an appropriately spooky question to answer for you, so I’ll be diving into the Lovecraftian deep once again here in this post.

What Makes a Game Rated M?

Let’s start by looking at how games are rated in the United States. This will give you some background info on how the process works, which may help you make decisions about games in the future.

The agency that rates games in the US is called Entertainment Software Rating Board. They rate things based on a scale of a few options that are defined by which ages they’re appropriate for.

E for everyone, everyone older than 10, teen, mature (17+), and adults only (18+) are the ratings that are applied to most games. You may also sometimes see a game rated RP, which indicates that the ESRB is still in the process of rating it.

You can compare an M-rated game to an R-rated movie. It achieves this rating by having elements that are suitable at a minimum for older teens, such as blood, violence, foul language, and sexual content.

The difference between M and AO (Adults Only) generally comes down to how graphic the adult content is and how long the scenes containing these elements are. Scenes with “prolonged” graphic sexual and violent content usually push the game into AO territory.

So, Why is Call of Cthulhu Rated M?

It’s gory.

Call of Cthulhu starts off with a rather bloody bang. It immediately opens with your private eye character in a cave filled with blood and body parts.

Frankly, it’s not clear if those parts are all human. It looked like there were some sea creatures mixed in.

However, it’s worth noting because it kind of sets a horror tone right from the start of the game. The entire thing is far from some kind of blood-drenched gore fest, but there are certainly scenes that get a little messy.

There’s violence.

Just like the game opens with a pretty bloody scene, it also starts off with a bit of violence, too. You watch characters in a dream sequence, one of which shoots a faceless, cloaked, and betentacled figure.

This is far from the only instance of violence in the game. Fairly early on, you’ll meet some bootleggers who, during the Prohibition, were not known as peaceful people and are certainly not portrayed as such in this game.

Again, it’s not a constant bloodbath littered with violence. You’re still going to encounter some violent scenes, though, especially when you’re investigating crime scenes.

There’s drinking and smoking in the game.

We’re all aware that adults drink and smoke. Not too long ago, you could show these things in movies without it necessarily raising the rating – just watch some of the older Disney movies if you don’t believe me.

Nowadays, however, as people become increasingly aware of health risks involved with drinking and smoking, rating agencies apply higher ratings to media showing these habits. While I don’t think it had the greatest impact on Call of Cthulhu’s rating, I think the presence of drinking and smoking certainly contributed.

Remember, the game takes place during the Prohibition and one of the important secondary characters is a bootlegger. You’re going to see quite a bit of illicit alcohol in the game, especially in the Stranded Whale, which is the dreary town of Darkwater’s bar.

The characters use strong language.

Swearing is another thing that will drive up the rating in any movie or game. Again, probably not as much as with things like violence or gore, but I don’t doubt that the “spicy” language used by the characters in Call of Cthulhu is part of the reason for the rating.

Private eyes and bootleggers aren’t exactly known for their pristine language. Expect to hear some words that could be brutal for more sensitive ears here and there.

Let’s not forget, it’s a horror game.

Of course, Call of Cthulhu is a horror game. It has some more horrific scenes including cults, rituals, and stalking monsters.

Naturally, there are elements you will not want to expose younger audiences to…unless you want to traumatize them, anyway.

Call of Cthulhu FAQs

Is the Call of Cthulhu game scary?

Whether or not the game is “scary” is a matter of opinion. We all have different things that scare us.

Call of Cthulhu is defined as a horror game and has horror elements in it. If you find rundown oceanside towns, occult activity, insanity, and inhuman monsters scary, then yes, it is terrifying.

But it’s not scary in the way that excessive slasher-like gore and continuous jump scares are. I hesitate to call it subtle, though, because there are a lot of in-your-face occult and ritual scenes.

How many hours is Call of Cthulhu?

According to the developer, totally completing the game will take approximately 12-15 hours. If you rush through it, however, you may be able to beat it in less time.

What type of game is Call of Cthulhu?

Call of Cthulhu is a horror game with RPG elements in it, such as choosing which of your character’s stats to increase and the ability to make choices. That being said, I think it only leans slightly into RPG territory, because you won’t have a party of characters or multiple class customizations to tinker with.

How many endings does Call of Cthulhu have?

Sources show that Call of Cthulhu has four different endings. The good news is, this gives the game some extra replayability, especially if you’re a completionist who likes to see all aspects of a game.

Wrap Up

I hope this helped you learn a little bit more about the recent Call of Cthulhu game. Maybe it helped you make up your mind about whether you’ll play it yourself or whether it’s suitable as a gift for someone.

I have this one in my Steam library, but I haven’t honestly played it yet. I imagine I’ll get to it soon, though, because I guess you could say it’s been calling to me. Maybe I’ll share my thoughts about it down the road.

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