The Call of Karen: An Entertaining Eldritch Endeavor

In preparation for the ending of season 1 of HBO’s Lovecraft Country, I have been searching for something to fill the Eldritch hole that is about to be in my life. While it is definitely more humorous than traditional Lovecraftian media, The Call of Karen seemed interesting enough for me to give it a try. Although there are several technical drawbacks, which is to be expected of an indie free to play game on Steam, The Call of Karen contains several endearing and entertaining features.

Despite the ever-approaching menace of a Cthulhu-esque entity, The Call of Karen is mostly a comedy. The player’s avatar is a 1950’s housewife named Karen who must carry out various mundane household tasks, all while a sinister presence infiltrates her home. However, it is not the supernatural scares that get Karen down, instead it is society’s underappreciation of her role as a homemaker. This is displayed several times early in the game, primarily through Karen’s underwhelmed and disgruntled reactions to things she hears on the radio.

Example of the radio program Karen listens to. Screenshot by author.

In addition to Karen’s lack of concern for the approaching evil, there are also several small touches to the environment that add humor. For example, one of the books the player is tasked with putting away is titled “Your Nuclear Family: no not that kind of nuclear” and is written by a Jane Strangelove. In this one game object alone there are numerous references (i.e. the perfect white-cisgender suburban family, reliance on nuclear power, and arguably the best satire of the Cold War ever made) that reflect the post-World War II aesthetic that permeates the game. I could have easily spent the entire duration of my gameplay examining each object for Easter eggs. This is something that I feel is important for games to have, but is not present as much as it should. Not only does it help with worldbuilding and immersion, but it also shows that the creators of the game cared enough to add such little details. It gave me the sense that the developers enjoyed working on and really cared about the game. This is something I rarely feel when playing video games, but that I hope to instill in the games I make in the future.

Part of a screenshot by author.

Sources

The Call of Karen. Worcester, MA: Trumbus Games, 2020. Video Game.

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