Is Operation Lovecraft A SCAM?

Project Helius’ long-running game in-development Operation Lovecraft: Fallen Doll, has been years in the making. It first appeared as Fallen Doll but after a survey of players, the decision was made to ditch the original concept and change the game entirely to include Lovecraftian type beasts and alien beings. For the record, Operation Lovecraft is for mature audiences. There is really not much here for anyone else just yet. However, it is this fact alongside the lengthy development time and seemingly slow progression that has led many to label the project a SCAM. Don’t listen to the naysayers, they are wrong.

Firstly, let’s take a quick look at the developer themselves without going into specifics. Project Helius is run by a lone developer of the same name. It’s not clear where they are located, but we believe they are possibly of Chinese origin residing in North America. Now, the thing that is really important to note here is that Project Helius is literally just a handful of people and not a massive or even a small studio. It’s just a few dedicated programmers, artists and project lead. With this in mind then, it is no wonder that development is slow. Reason being, NO publishers want to invest in this type of mature game for obvious reasons. A shame, but that’s how things roll. Slow development then is not unique to this project. In-fact, it’s mirrored across-the-board especially those which are VR focused. Therefore, it’s only the ignorant who expect the game to be finished on a timescale equivalent to mainstream gaming. Development takes time, and the less people working on the game the longer it takes. That should be obvious, but it seems some people have forgotten this, or believe that game development is easy.

The other issue that rises from this, is the business model employed by these developers. Usually, subscription based on websites such as Patreon or Itch.IO. The reason why some people call the game out as a SCAM is because, the game you pay for today, is not the game that is promised because the fully fledged game is still work-in-progress. Many will have you believe that these additional elements won’t ever see the light-of-day as part of the SCAM to entice people to part with their money. They also believe that you have to keep paying more money each month to continue having access to the latest builds. That is simply conjecture, ill-informed speculation and plain lies. For the record, we paid for the Cleric tier some years back for £30. That’s all we paid, and thus far we have been granted access to everything the game offers including all the updates and three new characters. There will come a point where if we want to unlock more characters when they become available, we’ll have to pay some more which is pretty standard-fare (think DLC in mainstream gaming) but we will still receive any game updates.

Going back to the first point then, development for any game takes ages and Operation Lovecraft is not the exception especially given the size of the team. There is also the issue of how well the project is being managed. Some might have you believe that Project Helius are sunning themselves in the Bahamas on an exotic yacht with party girls and champagne every day. That is most likely not the case. Despite pulling in 1000s of dollars every month from the community. Costs and wages can eat into the pot quite substantially leaving very little for anything else including hiring more staff. It’s easy to sit and speculate without knowing all the facts of where or how the money is being spent. At the very least, it doesn’t afford a dedicated project manager which in itself causes other issues. With a project that isn’t managed very well as it would be if a publisher invested in the project, ideas can spiral out-of-control. Feature creep can rear its ugly head and the game can start biting-off-more-than-it-can-chew. Some believe that has already happened.

So, let’s look at what you actually get today if you put down the same £30(Cleric tier) as we did via the Patreon. From the get go, we have access to past builds including the original Fallen Doll release. We have three characters and access to the Harem Mode Beta on Steam. Our pledge also grants us access to the full-game when it is finished. In the meantime, we get all the game updates. The Harem mode is the main meat of the game at the moment, offering two locations to explore. The Archamedes Station in space, and the Erotes Nightclub. The latter became part of the game at a later date at no extra cost.

The Harem mode (a multiplayer-lite mode) lets you unlock characters outfits and has other bits planned such as gifting to raise affinity levels. You can give and receive “likes” from other players, learn experiments from them and see them within the game world walking around or doing the do. The battle-mode which sees you using the experiment cards you collect in the Harem mode is not implemented yet. Each character has a number of these cards which offer various poses which you can place within the levels. It’s a mini game of sorts and allows you to unlock more bits. Yes, it’s very grindy but also fun to look at the highly detailed UE5 character models. Our Steam account says we’ve invested over 130 hours playing this game, and thus far we have two characters research passes to complete having finished 4 already. In its current form, the game is worth the investment. The sheer numbers of experiments is commendable, and some of the outfit designs are top-tier. The character models are also some of the best we’ve seen. What’s more, a native VR mode is being worked on, and according to the developer this is slowing down progression of the entire game. We’re glad they have not abandoned VR despite the fact the game works well using Praydog’s UEVR mod.

To conclude then. There are a number of online people who have jumped on the “it’s a SCAM” bandwagon regarding this game. They have made too many assumptions and relied on information from people who previously worked on the project who might appear disgruntled or have an agenda. The bottom-line is, the £30 we spent years ago has given us enough content to be happy with the purchase . If you were to buy in today, you would find a very basic but fun-to-play experience that is perhaps lacking in features. They will come eventually, we have no doubts about that, but how long it takes is up in the air. So, in this regard, we would suggest exercising some caution before diving-in. There is a free demo on Steam, but this is just a simple model viewer. The Harem mode is quite different from that and shows the game’s true potential. No-one is being forced to continually part with cash for this, so calling it a SCAM is simply overkill and irrelevant. We suggest you forget the promised features and just roll with what is available today and you’ll enjoy the game more. When the promised features eventually make their appearance, that will be a bonus and the icing-on-the-cake.

Written by: Rob Cram

Rob Cram has hundreds of video game reviews, thousands of articles under his belt with years of experience in gaming and tech. He aims to remain fair and free from publisher/developer influence. With his extensive knowledge, feels his gaming opinions are valid and worth sharing. Agreement with his views are entirely optional. He might have a bias towards cyberpunk.

No comments yet.

Leave Your Reply