Game: Kalaban
Platform: PC
Genre: survival horror, action horror
Style: light Lovecraft influences
Verdict: Mixed
Buy: Steam
Lovecraft Video Games received a copy of Kalaban to review through the Steam Curator program.

Kalaban puts you in the shoes of a man named Bob who discovers that the small town where he lives in Finland is under attack by strange monsters. Determined to survive, he begins searching for a way to escape town and possibly learn the truth behind the incident.

Now, I’m not entirely sure whether to call Kalaban a survival horror or action horror game.

On one hand, it felt like it wanted me to fight enemies, and it didn’t have many traditional survival horror elements aside from locked doors. On the other hand, ammo was scarce enough that I eventually started running past most encounters, and this was a viable strategy in many situations.

It also has an unusual take on its health items. You have both a food and hunger meter. Your food meter lets you regenerate health. Therefore, while being hungry won’t hurt you (except on the hardest difficulty), having food on hand is a good alternative to using your rarer healing items.

You are largely free to roam the town as you please, but as you encounter other characters, you’ll gain quests to help you toward your ultimate goal: escape. You need to repair a car to get out of town, and that means you’ll need to find the parts to fix it, most of which are either held by other characters who want your help or hidden behind locked doors.

Kalaban takes about three hours to complete, and it took a good portion of those three hours before I learned why it’s considered Lovecraftian.

On the surface, it appears to be a typical monster-outbreak horror scenario. Your neighbors have transformed into beasts, monsters are rampaging through town, etc. Once the story progresses, however, you learn that the origins of the incident lie with cultists whose goals are definitely straight out of Lovecraft. Just know that the atmosphere (which is fantastic for what it is) leans more toward traditional horror for most of the game.

Unfortunately, Kalaban is a bit buggy.

I enjoyed most of my time with the game, but even by the end, I wasn’t entirely sure how some things worked. It saves whenever you move to a new area, but some progress is always reset. A boss respawned in one area and remained there for the rest of the game, despite me having the item it dropped upon being defeated. I also ran into a bug where key items vanished from my inventory until the developers patched it. The game crashed a couple of times, and whenever I loaded the game, the UI would briefly show a health bar for enemies that otherwise wasn’t present. Add in an awkward slowdown to the character’s movement, and playing Kalaban had its share of frustrations.

But aside from those issues, the atmosphere, quest system, and occasional moments of humor had me enjoying the game. It isn’t very long, and the Lovecraftian elements are light, but there’s an enjoyable little horror game here if you can tolerate the bugs.

Buy: Steam