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Everything in The Sinking City reminds me of last year released game The Call of Cthulhu: The Official Video Game. Not just because everything resembles the same original writer’s works, but the visual execution, as well. I was interested of seeing how well the The Sinking City captured the look and feeling of the same genre. It promises of weird horror and surroundings, good and twisted story, and seemingly great gameplay.
It is 1920’s and Charles Reed, private investigator, goes to a flooded city on an island Oakmont, Massachusetts, he found himself being in weirder situation than he thought. Originally he went to investigate the city’s flood, but then gets to know the islander’s weird behavior and disturbed minds that something is causing. Charles himself isn’t in the best of health of his mind either and seems the island also affects him with delusions and insanity.
The Sinking City’s plot is interesting and curious, having influenced by weird universe of horror of H.P. Lovercraft’s, and it really shows. I’m not personally super familiar with H.P. Lovercraft’s works, other than The Call of Cthulhu. Overall the story was good and I liked it. The plot got enough thrill to keep me hooked.
Gameplay & Controls
Finding clues, edivences, solving crimes by using player’s supernatural powers, finding the right destinations on your own, connecting pieces of the evidences and order of the happenings, fighting with enemies, upgrading your skills all sounded so nice, but they were really lackluster and boring in the end. The execution of everything somewhat was there and everything worked, but it all felt very dated. The game didn’t ran that smoothly technically either. Lots of frame drops and cuts happened all the time and make the game very sluggish (I used PS4 Pro+boost mode).
Even the controls felt outdated and awkward sometimes. Nowdays games have very advanced controls; quick and precise. Yet again, everything worked in The Sinking City, but it all felt slow and sluggish. With the game usually getting slow and cutting lot of frames, it made even harder to control the guy.
I could see many quality differences in the graphics. Example, just by looking a character’s face I could see some high quality eyes, but everything around them were lower quality, then comparing the clothes to the skin and even different parts of the clothing and then to the surroundings… it seemed as all was made with totally different technique that gave totally various outcomes and then just put together. It gave the game extremely dated look, but sometimes I could see more effort, making all more nice. Even the pre-rendered cutscene videos were so badly packed that they looked like old pixelated Youtube video. Then comes the countless of bugs that usually contained NPs floating in the mid-air. I’m not sure did it affect to my gameplay in any way, because I always couldn’t interact with the floating ones.
The horrible voice acting was the first thing I noticed. Some characters were OK, but almost all NPs were so bad that they made me laugh. Also the inconsistencies in the conversations and sudden jumps of the moods were hilarious and reminded me of some badly made RPG game from 2007. I can see the effort there, sure, but it was still bad.
The Sinking City offerd me various settings for the difficulty. I got three basic choices that set my basic gameplay style and I chose the middle one. I could also choose the difficulty of enemies and health and I took the Normal. I soon found out that the game won’t escort me into the gameplay in any way and I had to figure out everything on my own. The gameplay being somewhat different and “new” it was difficult to begin a good gameplay. Thankfully, there was a ‘How To Play’ manual in the options, but making players read the whole gameplay-system rather than simply showing it with tiny little tutorials, was a total killer of the mood. I had to change to the easiest settings and go from there. Still, I didn’t have the exact knowledge what to do or how to do things overall and it was just trying different things.
In The Sinking City it was all about solving the crimes, finding the right evidences, connecting the dots, being in right places and finding the right locations by your own and pinning them to the map. The latter was the most killer with the gameplay flow, because often I didn’t know where to go or what to do next and trying different things in different locations took lots of time, because travelling to places was slow. Missing countless of others basic little everyday things made the game just too difficult for the player, when everything could’ve been much easier and keeping up the player’s pace. With the easiest gameplay settings (with Normal difficulty) the game was not that hard, but it wasn’t that smooth as I expected.
It’s so easy to critizes something, especially something someone had done. I got these mixed strong feelings when playing The Sinking City. I saw where the developer was going, I totally got that, but the execution of it all was the one that let this game stumble. After getting into the gameplay I finally realized the whole picture. Everything just ran very short with this game; sluggish gameplay, dated graphics, bad voice acting, no introduction to the gameplay, countless bugs. Very unfinished feeling. A fully realized idea and game was there, but maybe due to the small budget or lack of talent; The Sinking City is just barely OK game, but it truly let me down because of my high hopes of it.
RELEASE DATE: Jun 27, 2019
GENRE: Adventure / Horror
PLATFORMS: PlayStation 4
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