HP Lovecraft’s monster Cthulhu is a malevolent entity so powerful and fearsome that the mere sight of him will drive you insane. Lurking in the shadows of man’s subconscious, Cthulhu likes to recruit worshippers all around the world to do his twisted bidding. His evil followers usually form cults, who then promote Cthulhu’s madness by worming their way into positions of power, conducting bizarre and macabre rituals or by constantly phoning their victims to ask if they have been in an accident or have PPI insurance. In this creepy survival horror title, the lead character Jack Walters has a run in with some of Cthulhu’s friends, causing him to lose his grip on sanity and his job as a police detective. Ending up as a PI, he takes a job investigating the creepy town of Innsmouth, where further horrors await.
The game should install with no problems on a modern PC. Simply place the disc into your computers optical drive and follow the on-screen prompts. If the games installer does not start automatically, browse to the CD/DVD drive in File Explorer and run the “Setup.exe” file manually. During the installation you may see a warning that “Windows Media Technologies” are no longer compatible with your version of Windows, but this warning can safely be ignored.
After installation, we found that the installer had not properly created Start menu shortcuts. To remedy this, you will need to add a shortcut to “CoCDCoTELauncher.exe” manually. The path to this program should be “C:\Program Files (x86)\Bethesda Softworks\Call Of Cthulhu DCoTE\Engine”, unless you changed this during the installation of the game. For more help manually creating Start menu shortcuts, see this tutorial (for Windows 10) or this tutorial (for Windows 7 and 8).
Unfortunately, Headfirst Productions went bankrupt not long after the game released, which means there’s nothing in the way of official patches for this game. Again, as with so many games abandoned by their original developers, it falls to the community to provide support. An unofficial patch exists for the game, but in order to use it you will need to obtain a cracked/hacked version of the games executable file, with the copy protection removed. Unfortunately we’re not able to link to files like this, but with a little detective work you should be able to find it online.
Once you do find the file, be sure to virus check it, then copy it to “C:\Program Files (x86)\Bethesda Softworks\Call Of Cthulhu DCoTE\Engine”, or wherever you installed the game. Overwrite the existing file in that folder (we recommend that you take a backup of the original file first), then you’re all set to use the unofficial patch program.
The unofficial patch is your next port of call and this can be downloaded here. The file is downloaded as a zip file, so once it has downloaded you simply need to copy the DCoTEPatch.exe file from the zip archive to any location on your PC and run it. The following window will then appear, click or tap on the image to enlarge it.
Click on the “Load…” button at the top left of the window and a file requester window will appear. You now need to navigate to where the games executable is installed, usually that is “C:\Program Files (x86)\Bethesda Softworks\Call Of Cthulhu DCoTE\Engine”. Once you have located the “CoCMainWin32” program, the options in the window should become available.
Make sure that “Modify blue light shader to allow normal completion of sorcerers” and “Modify skybox shader” are selected. The other settings in the patcher program are mostly for cheats or undocumented/removed features. There are some interesting settings over on the “Player Settings” tab however.
Notice in the top left we have the settings “FOV” and “FOV sneak mode”. If you increase these values from their defaults, you get a slightly wider view of your surroundings. This is recommended, especially if you want to try the widescreen patch that we will look at later.
Once you have configured these options, click “Save” at the bottom left of the window. If you have difficulty applying the unofficial patch, for example you get an “access denied” error when trying to save, try running the DCoTEPatch.exe program as an administrator (right click on DCoTEPatch.exe and choose “Run as administrator”).
This is all the patching you need to do for the basic game.
Running the game
After applying the unofficial patch, start the game by running the launcher (CoCDCoTELauncher.exe). The following window will then appear.
Under “Display Mode”, you should choose the mode that most closely fits your monitors native resolution. For a 1080p TV, that will be 1920×1080. Call of Cthulhu: Dark Corners of the Earth does not properly support Widescreen screen modes, so choosing a widescreen mode may make some of the games graphics appear stretched. There is a fix for this that we will explore in the next section.
Make sure you choose a mode that is 60hz. The game cannot be run at frame-rates above 60fps without becoming unstable.
Under “Antialiasing mode” choose “8 x”. As this is an old game, even a modest PC should be able to handle these settings without breaking into too much of a sweat.
Once these options are set, click on “Launch Game”. Unusually for a PC game there aren’t any other quality/detail settings to configure. The first time the game is run it may ask you to download and install “DirectPlay”, you can of course answer “Yes” to this prompt.
Playing in Widescreen
It’s possible to fix the game to run properly in widescreen screen modes, while keeping the pre-rendered cut-scenes in proper 4:3 aspect ratio. To do so requires some advanced IT skills however, so isn’t for the feint of heart.
Widescreen Gaming Forum have the instructions here, if you’re interested. To complete their instructions you need to do the following.
Firstly, you need a hex editing tool, we recommend Be.HexEditor. The hex in question here is hexadecimal, rather than some kind of curse that Cthulhu’s followers put on you.
Using Be.HexEditor, you need to open the CoCMainWin32.exe program file. That’s the same file you located/opened when using the unofficial patch program above. We strongly recommend taking a backup copy of this file before attempting to edit it.
With CoCMainWin32.exe open in Be.HexEditor, you need to search for the hex values “A5 AC A9 3F” and replace them with the values given on WSGF. For a 1080p display, use the 16:9 values of “39 8E E3 3F”
You need to find and replace three instances of “A5 AC A9 3F”. Be careful NOT to edit anything else. Accidentally changing a single other value could cause all kinds of problems. If you make a mistake, exit the hex editor and start from scratch, copy in your backup file if necessary before trying again. Do not forget to save your changes once you have successfully edited the hex.
Once you’ve successfully hex edited this file, download the Call of Cthulhu Widescreen Fix file from this page. The file is downloaded as a Zip file and it’s a little confusing where to put the files contained therein. What you need to do is open the Zip file, then open the “CallOfCthulhu.WidescreenFix” folder that lives inside and then open the “Engine” folder that is inside there. You should now see a folder called “scripts” and a file called “dinput8.dll”. Copy this file and this folder to the same directory as the “CoCMainWin32.exe” file you were hex editing a moment ago. Normally that will be “C:\Program Files (x86)\Bethesda Softworks\Call Of Cthulhu DCoTE\Engine”.
If you manage to do all that correctly, the game should now run flawlessly in widescreen. Start the game as normal, if the widescreen patch program prompts you to install an update, you can safely opt to do so.
Getting this game to work might not drive you as insane as Cthulhu might like, but it may come close. Many players have reported multiple locations and events that can cause crashes and other problems. Here are some workarounds you can try if you encounter any problems.
Compatibility mode – Some gamers recommend using Windows XP compatibility mode to avoid crashes, if you want to try this you can find a tutorial here on how to set compatibility modes.
Prologue trapdoor crash – In the games first prologue level, you will come across a trapdoor at the back of a library. You will hear a scream and Jack will say “S**t that doesn’t sound good”. At this point, if you open the trapdoor and go down, the game may crash. To work around this problem you can try one of two things.
1 – Approach the trapdoor slowly, and climb down the ladder slowly. If that still fails, try climbing down slowly and jumping off at the end.
2 – Use the ladder crash fix executable available here. This is yet another fan-made patch for the game that fixes this particular bug. However, this version of the game had very low FPS on our system and it is not compatible with the unofficial patch. It also required the mouse sensitivity to be reset to 1. We recommend using this executable solely to get past this point in the game, then simply exit the game as soon as it auto-saves your progress and then switch back to the regular game executable.
Random crashes – Random crashes in the game can sometimes be mitigated by setting the game to run on only one CPU core. If you want to do this, you can download our batch file here. Simply place this file into the games “Engine” sub directory, with the “CoCMainWin32.exe” file (yes, the same one you found when using the unofficial patch). Now, run the batch file to start the game and make it run on only 1 CPU core. Don’t forget to update your shortcuts to point to this batch file too.
Vertical sync – Call of Cthulhu: Dark Corners of the Earth becomes unstable if you try to run it at more than 60 frames a second. If the game is crashing or glitching, try forcing vertical sync on using a tool like the Nvidia Control Panel. Make sure your monitor is set to 60hz refresh rate too. Forcing vertical sync on can also help eliminate graphical tearing in the game.
A GOG.com version of the game, which supposedly fixed several of the long-standing issues with the games stability, was released then mysteriously pulled a few months later after users complained of problems with save files getting corrupted, spooky.
Click on any screenshot to enlarge it.