Actual play is fairly straightforward. Chronicles doesn't have the animated sequences that something like the Steve Jackson's Sorcery! line has, though game play is similar. A page of text is provided with a picture or illustration, and this will give the player a series of choices to pursue. It's a time-honored approach going all the way back to those "Choose Your Own Adventure" books.
Sometimes these choices lead to a test. These are the equivalent to rolling dice in the tabletop game. Tests come in various difficulties, and these modify your chances accordingly. A wheel appears and spins, resulting in either a pass or a failure. Consequences depend on the test. You might simply fail to notice a clue or to persuade an NPC to talk...or you might take damage.
The game is free to play, but as with all games of this sort there are in-app purchases. These take the form of "tickets." Basically, players get a number of free trials of a scenario, after which they must purchase the scenario and play it to their heart's content or spend tickets for additional single play-throughs.
Are multiple play-throughs worth it? Taking different characters through the scenarios changes the text considerably, and I applaud MetaArcade for tailoring the text to each character. We've all played games like this where it doesn't matter what character you are playing...the text is the same. This is not the case here. Also, multiple plays opens up different story paths, either through making alternate choices or passing tests you might have failed before. On the other hand, just like a pen-and-paper scenario, the second and third time you play it some of the fun derived from surprise and the unknown is dissipated This isn't a fault of Chronicles, just the nature of the beast. I suspect players will want to try at least two or three play-throughs at least.
Cthulhu Chronicles is without doubt the closest thing to playing Call of Cthulhu you can get without a Keeper, and this is really the most attractive feature of the game. The writing is atmospheric, and the music provides suitably creepy immersion playing in your earphones. The real success or failure of the platform will depend on what scenarios are offered in the future (a massive adaptation of Masks of Nyarlathotep, anyone?). A steady stream of classic spine-tingling tails will certainly keep drawing players back. And since the price of admission is free, why on Earth haven't you downloaded it yet?
I give this solid adaptation of Cthulhu three-and-a-half Elder Signs out of five. Recommended heartily for those who need their Cthulhu fix between sessions and for people who are curious what the whole "Call of Cthulhu" thing is about. Find it right now in the iOS App store.