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Call of Cthulhu: Dark Corners of the Earth

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Call of Cthulhu: Dark Corners of the Earth
Call of Cthulhu - Dark Corners of the Earth.jpg
Offical Boxart
Release Date: 2005
Developer: Headfirst Productions
Publisher: Bethesda Softworks
Series: Call of Cthulhu
Platforms: Xbox
Genre: First-Person Shooter

The first entry in a planned-but-never-realized trilogy of games based on H.P. Lovecraft's Cthulhu Mythos, Call of Cthulhu: Dark Corners of the Earth is a first-person survival horror game heavily based around Lovecraft's novella The Shadow Over Innsmouth, and also has plot elements borrowed from the Call of Cthulhu tabletop RPG adventure modules published by Chaosium, Inc.

The game puts the player in the role of a private investigator named Jack Walters, known for this preternatural hunches, in the year 1916. Summoned to deal with an armed standoff between the authorities and an armed cult in Boston, Massachusetts, he discovers alien technology within the cult's manor house and quickly blacks out after activating a gate-like device. Deemed insane and sent to Arkham Asylum, he is shortly released and spends the next six years in a fugue state before regaining his former memories and personality. Trying to restore a sense of normality to his interrupted life, Jack resumes his former career in 1922 and takes on a missing persons case in the isolationist port town of Innsmouth, Massachusetts. What he discovers there will severely test his physical and mental limits, and bring into question his own true nature.

The following weapons appear in the game Call of Cthulhu: Dark Corners of the Earth



The game was notable for being among the first FPS games to feature no ingame HUD by default, and an ingame sanity meter (the first video game to use the latter element being Eternal Darkness). The sanity meter tracks Jack's mental resistance to distressing imagery and/or alien mental influence. If it drops too low, Jack's vision will start to blur and waver, he may start to hear hallucinatory audio, and the player's controls may be scrambled. Taking too much sanity damage will result in "Massive Sanity Failure," whereupon Jack will commit suicide with whatever weapon he has at hand or go irrevocably insane.

The lack of an ingame HUD necessitates the use of iron sights on firearms for accurate shots, and the player will need to mentally track ammunition expenditure to avoid being caught with an empty firearm at an inopportune moment (reloading with a partially-loaded firearm will simply return the unused rounds to the common ammunition pool, however). The game is also somewhat unique in that the trajectory of a bullet is directly tied to the angle of the firearm's barrel when it is fired; for example, if the player reloads the ingame M1911 in this game and fires before the reload animation brings the barrel back to the direction he's looking, the fired bullet will travel in the direction it was pointing when it was fired.

To increase the survival horror factor, firearms and/or ammunition cannot be looted from killed enemies and must instead be found throughout the game's various levels. Ammunition in this game is also capped to a maximum value Jack can carry with him at any given time, specified below for each weapon. Jack can, however, use a firearm in melee when it he has no more ammunition for it.

An unrealistic visual element used for this game's firearms is the extreme amount of muzzle smoke each puts out whenever one is fired. This is opaque enough to immediately but briefly obscure the target being fired at if the firearm in question was being aimed at the time. This design choice is ostensibly to discourage "spray-and-pray" shooting, but would only be realistic with older black powder firearms, and then only after a few shots in the same direction.


Colt M1911

The Colt M1911 is the most common handguns available in the game, is chambered for .45 ACP, and has a magazine capacity of 8 + 1 rounds, with the extra round available if Jack performs a tactical reload (even though his only reload animation involves him racking the slide every time, which in reality would eject a still-chambered round). Unfortunately for fans of this handgun in real life, its stopping power in this game is among the lowest of the ingame weapons- 2 or 3 headshots are necessary to take down a deformed Innsmouth citizen, the most common ingame enemy (who are in fact hybrids created from humans interbreeding with the ichthyoid Deep One monsters).

The M1911 can be first found in the "Jailbreak" chapter of the game in a police weapons locker, when Jack sneaks into the Innsmouth police station while evading a mob of deformed Innsmouth citizens out for his blood, after his investigation delves too deep into the town's secrets.

Many NPCs use this gun, but it is less common than the M1917 revolver among hostile Innsmouth citizens. It is treated as the standard-issue handgun among the various NPCs who are part of the FBI ingame, even though the FBI would not issue a semiautomatic pistol until the 1980s (and the FBI was still known as the "Bureau of Investigation" in the 1920s). Two notable named NPCs using this weapon include the game's depiction of J. Edgar Hoover, the director of the Bureau of Investigation at that time in its history, who hands Jack two Colt 1911s at different times during the Marsh Gold Refinery raid, and Lucas Mackey, an undercover FBI agent sent to investigate Innsmouth's possible criminal activities before Jack arrived.

Original Colt M1911 (dated 1913) - .45 ACP
The M1911 in a safe
Aiming and firing with the M1911.
Racking the slide to load a new round.
Bashing with the M1911.

Smith & Wesson M1917

The Smith & Wesson M1917 is the less common of the two handguns available ingame. The ingame version is chambered in the fictional ".45 LR" caliber (in reality the M1917 chambered .45 ACP rounds held in moon clips) in a 6-round cylinder. This is likely a mistake on the developers end to refer to ".45 Long Colt". It is commonly used by deformed Innsmouth citizens, and is the most powerful handgun in the game, with increased damage and recoil over the ingame M1911.

The revolver has been suspected to have been one of three different types; a Colt M1917, a Smith & Wesson M1917 Revolver, or a Smith & Wesson Model 10 Military & Police model. The words on the barrel read "Colt 45 D.A." which is only present on the Colt variant of the revolver, and it lacks the release-latch seen on the Smith and Wesson variant, instead using the latch built into the blast guard like the Colt variant. However, due to the caliber of the gun being in .45, as well as the overall frame and grip design, it was led to be discovered that it was a Smith & Wesson M1917.

The M1917 is first available to the player in the Innsmouth Cannery section of the "Escape from Innsmouth" chapter of the game, and is commonly found in various places thereafter. A few notable named NPCs who use this weapon include USMC Sergeant Sam Carter, Captain Stephen Hearst (of the US Coast Guard Cutter Urania), and Sebastian Marsh (an influential figure in Innsmouth society who is behind one of the plot's major conspiracies). It is interesting to note that the M1917 is also featured in the introductory chapter of the game which takes place in 1916, one year before the revolver's historical release.

Earlier builds of the game included wooden grips and a chrome finish for this weapon, but it was eventually modified to have a grittier finish and ivory grips. The M1917 was also originally much more common and issued to the player at the start of the game, and used much more heavily than the 1911.

Smith & Wesson M1917 Revolver (Military issue with lanyard ring) - .45 ACP. Note the ejector-rod socket, common of a Smith revolver. Also note the S&W style cylinder release latch. These are the only easily distinguishable external differences between the Colt and S&W versions.
An M1917 laying on the ground.
Ejecting the used rounds.
In a early screenshot from the Steam Store page, Jack aims the Chrome version with Wooden Grips at some Deep Ones.


Double-Barreled Elephant Shotgun

A Double-barreled shotgun is found in the Police station and various other areas of the game. It is technically an Elephant gun, as there are two shotguns that currently still exist in the game, an Iver Johnson Hercules 12 gauge double barrel shotgun which is only wielded by enemies, and the current 4-bore Elephant Shotgun which is wielded by only the player and is known as a simply "double barrel 12 gauge shotgun". It has fancy engravings, a very large barrel, and a cheek-rest on the stock that remain to show its previous history in the game as an elephant gun.

Merkel 40E Shotgun - 12 gauge. Somewhat similar to the one in game.
Lifting the shotgun up after loading new shells.
Giving the shotgun a nice use.
Ejecting used shells, even though they do not appear to be used at all.

Iver Johnson Hercules 12 Gauge Shotgun

The Iver Johnson Hercules 12 gauge shotgun is a double barreled shotgun, smaller than the standard game shotgun and is only wielded by enemies. It was previously wielded by both the player and enemies in early versions of the game.


Submachine Guns

M1921 Thompson

An M1921 Thompson can be found multiple times in the game. It has the standard 50-round drum magazine and the anachronistic Cutts compressor (a late feature introduced in 1926, after about 4 years after the events of the game). Earlier variants of the gun in the game could be used with a stick magazine that held 20 or 30 rounds (the amounts were switched as developers playtested it) before finally settling on the classic drum magazine.

Colt M1921A Thompson with 50-round drum magazine - .45 ACP
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Firing the Thompson.
Removing the drum...
...and loading a new one.


M1903 Springfield

The game features a M1903 Springfield rifle. The rifle in the game holds 5 rounds loaded into the internal magazine via stripper clip. Early variants of the rifle in game had working adjustable sights and a bayonet for melee-charges, as well as a scoped version for longer range sniping. The usable variant of the rifle only features a circular hood sight rather than the standard sights for an M1903. These are generally only fitted to protect the blade during transport.

Springfield M1903 Mk 1 - .30-06
The M1903 in game.
Ejecting a round.
Loading new .30-06 rounds with a stripper clip

Machine Guns

Browning M2

The Browning M2 is seen twice in the game, one in the Marsh refinery where it is used by one of Marsh's men open fire on the player at the start of the refinery level, and again on the Cutter Urania where it was originally meant to be used by the player. Current versions are no longer usable and the Urania version is described as "something else that's broken" by the player upon inspection.




The game features a flamethrower, mostly based on the anachronistic (as noted by the developers themselves) M2 Flamethrower, which is used by the player to melt ice away from a door and kill Josiah Bentley, a Star Spawn of Cthulhu. In earlier versions of the game, flamethrower could be wielded by players and carried around, however the decision to remove it was made as there were too many weapons in the game at that point in development. It currently is only carried by a US Marine and is then left in the snow. It is also worth noting that initially the flamethrower was a complete analogue of the M2 with three cylinders (as it can be seen in the old weapons render in this article), but was later changed to one large cylinder, in the style of the Kleinflammenwerfer M.16.

M2 Flamethrower
The render of in-game flamethrower. Note that weapon, oddly, has a grip from a Colt M1911.

Cut Weapons

Multiple weapons were removed from the game and only exist in the beta. The weapons of beta version can be seen in the photo below and consist of the following:

"Elephant" shotgun, М1903 Springfield with bayonet and scope, Iver-Johnson shotgun, Winchester М1897, Thompson М1921, Browning М2, early version of М1917 revolver with wooden grips, Mauser С96 with clip, М1911, Мk 2 grenades, М2 flamethrower in its original form.

Mauser C96 "Broomhandle" Pistol

The game initially featured a Mauser C96 self-loading pistol which was removed close to release as it was determined there were too many guns in the game. It was chambered for the 7.63×25mm Mauser round and the internal magazine held 10 rounds. It was reloaded via a stripper clip similar to the Springfield M1903 seen in the game.

Pre-War dated Mauser C96 "Broomhandle" Commercial Version - 7.63x25mm Mauser
Mauser broomhandle 02.jpg

Winchester 1897 Shotgun

Police in the game initially carried a pump action Winchester M1897 shotgun. It held 5 rounds and was the lowest-power shotgun in the game in order to balance out the gameplay with the double-barrel shotguns.

Winchester 1897 Field shotgun - 12 gauge

Other gameplay weapons that have been omitted (as they are not firearms):

Stag Knife, Crowbar, Baton, Yithian energy cannon, Deep One poison spear, fishing harpoon, hand grenade, dynamite, tomahawk, metal bar, and a 2x4 with a nail through it. These can be seen in the old weapons render in this article.

Early Weapons

Some other weapons existed only in early builds of the game, later replaced by others.

Colt Python

Early versions of the game included a .357 black Colt Python with wooden grips and a 4" barrel. The Python was a temporary weapon and removed once research began on authentic 1920s era weaponry where it was replaced with a Smith & Wesson M1917.

Colt Python with 4" Barrel and factory wood grips - .357 Magnum
The Colt Python, as it appears in a 2001 screenshot, before research began on authentic 1920s weapons.

Luger P08

Early pre-2002 versions of the game include a Luger P08 in 9mm. It was removed as it was determined there were too many handguns in the game.

Single Barreled Shotgun

Early pre-2002 versions of the game include a Single Barreled Shotgun. It was subsequently replaced with the more effective double-barreled elephant shotgun.

The player holds the single barreled shotgun in a 2001 screenshot.

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