Wednesday, September 02, 2009

CthulhuTech or Eclipse Phase

Catalyst Game Labs feels to me like a serious up-and-coming publisher. It already had two solid properties in Shadowrun, the first big cross-genre rpg, and Classic BattleTech, the granddaddy of the mecha combat games. Recently, they added CthulhuTech, poached from Mongoose, and Eclipse Phase. The former peaked my interest early on, even before Catalyst became the distributor, but after buying the pdf for Eclipse Phase, I find myself more attracted to that game. It lacks the supernatural horror component of CthulhuTech, which is something I usually look for in my quest for the perfect sci-fi horror setting, but the game mechanics are far superior to the gimmicky CthulhuTech game engine. Also, the kitchen-sink approach of CthulhuTech left much to be desired. Though there are many play options, they don't all mesh together well. Mecha combat doesn't work with cloak-and-dagger style role-playing. The game ends up being spread too thin and there just aren't enough options once you distill the components of the game that apply to your particular choice of campaign style. The final nail in the coffin was Damnation View, which I reviewed in an earlier post. It is a beautiful book with lots of pretty pictures and well-written short fiction, but there just wasn't enough meat on the bones given the price. For these reasons and my limited gaming budget, I am making the switch to Eclipse Phase. By the time I finish reading through the core book in about six months, the next book, Sunward: The Inner System, should be on store shelves.


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