The Sinking City looks like a Lovecraftian nightmare

LONDON, ENGLAND - MARCH 28: A detailed view of a PS4 controller as players practice during day one of the 2019 ePremier League Finals at Gfinity Arena on March 28, 2019 in London, England. (Photo by Alex Pantling/Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND - MARCH 28: A detailed view of a PS4 controller as players practice during day one of the 2019 ePremier League Finals at Gfinity Arena on March 28, 2019 in London, England. (Photo by Alex Pantling/Getty Images) /

We delve into the Lovecraftian world of “The Sinking City” to see if we can uncover the mystery and keep our sanity in Oakmont.

After playing Call of Cthulhu and giving it a really good review, I was excited to play The Sinking City. There has been a wave of Lovecraftian games that have hit the hands of gamers in the last year and most have been really good (Fade to Silence being the real exception). With gameplay being compared to the Sherlock Holmes games, I was super intrigued, especially with the subject matter and how good the game looked, but it turned out to have a lot hidden in its depths.

The Sinking City was developed by Frogwares and published by Bigben Interactive. The story follows a detective named Charles Reed, who has been having strange visions for years. He gets called to a small fishing village called Oakmont that had a devastating flood that just won’t recede.

Due to the flood, assistance to the area is impossible. The inhabitants of the near decimated city are also having strange visions.

He is looking into the cause of the flood and of the visions and along the way gets hired by both the wealthy and the needy to help in their own mysteries. He does all this while trying to maintain his own dwindling sanity.

The town’s districts are beginning to be overrun by strange creatures out of the flood called Wylebeasts. These horrifying creatures come in many shapes and sizes and cause parts of town to be blocked off to keep the creatures from roaming the streets (although you will find them in houses). Money means nothing in Oakmont anymore and people pay in booze or bullets, the latter of which are very hard to come by.

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In terms of staying true to the Lovecraftian theme, The Sinking City is great. While I enjoyed the gameplay of Call of Cthulhu a bit more, this game definitely holds its own. The Sinking City is heavier on fighting your enemies but doesn’t hold your hand in terms of research.

The city is broken up into districts which definitely represent a class system, with the poorer fisherman in the south and the wealthy to the north. Everything looks great and by great I mean it really gives the atmosphere of being soggy, decrepit and held together with hope and fish guts. There is a stark contrast between how the wealthy district of Reed Heights and the crime ridden streets of The Shells look.

Monsters lurk everywhere which would make for an exciting game except that you have to craft your own ammo, med kits and sanity pills and those aren’t easy to come by. Finding the required pieces to create different rounds, shells and other assorted pieces of ammunition is a scavenger hunt and not always a fun one.

Most of the time, the places where you get the ammunition supplies are the same places filled with spidery, bloated or serrated-mouthed creatures. Granted, my lack of ammunition could be because I was a terrible shot.

My gun flailed wildly like a rogue fire hose because I had the sensitivity too high. Let’s just blame that, shall we?

The unusual looking character models don’t just come in the monster-y variety, either. There are men that look like apes and men that look like fish and of course they all hate each other. The Sinking City oddly takes on racial tensions in the middle of a story about awakening old gods.

You have different ways that each case can go and your choices matter ESPECIALLY toward the end of the game. My playthrough could be very different from yours.

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So, was The Sinking City fun to play? Yeah, it was a lot of fun but it was also frustrating. I found myself many times stopping the game because I was tapped out of ammo and coming face-to-face with a house full of baddies and only a dinky melee weapon to kill them with.

Sometimes, you just can’t even face it which is unfortunate because this game is pretty awesome. Frogwares has created a game that is visually beautiful with an engaging story.

The investigating aspect of the gameplay is so fun because this game doesn’t baby you.  You have to actively seek clues and information at police stations, universities, hospitals and just by talking to people. If the game was literally all that, I wouldn’t have minded it one bit.

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Overall, I had a lot of fun with The Sinking City. It isn’t perfect and there are some things that I would change if I could, but for the most part it is a really well-constructed game with a well-thought out story, a hopeless and beautiful environment, unsettling creatures and sometimes horrific things that take place in Oakmont (looking at you librarian!).

What did you think of the game? Let us know in the comments!