The Sinking City Has A Great Vibe, But Is It Enough?
The Sinking City has some good stuff going for it, but it feels like the budget doesn’t meet the ambition.
What’s it about
If you didn’t already know, the game takes place around 1930 in H.P. Lovecraft’s twisted world (which you’ll often hear associated with Cthulhu) and has you playing an ex-navy-diver-turned-private-eye Charles Reed, who has arrived at the isolated US city of Oakmont which has recently experienced flooding and some SUPER strange happenings.
Things get really interesting really quick, especially if you’re someone like me that’s always been intrigued by the Lovecraft vibe but not known too much about it. You start meeting rather strange people who aren’t all that… human, although they still sort of are. While that’s going on you’re also seeing visions, and having to occasionally fight off weird twisted arms with… arms. Did I not mention that you’re affected by all of this nonsense and actually have secret supernatural powers that help you be an amazing Private Eye? I didn’t? Well, that’s a thing – and it’s rather fun.
The majority of the gameplay is taken up by moving around the open world city on foot or in boats, doing investigation work and then putting the pieces together to solve the case. What I really love about the detective work is how manual everything is (you can even set it to be really tough), and requires you to pin your own clues on your map depending on info given, go research things at the police station or library and so on. Something I also really like is that you have to take evidence collected and find ways that they connect, and then once they do they turn into deductions that are then used for you to decide the outcome of the case. It’s not just a final answer though, because you sometimes have to choose between two outcomes… and they’re the kind where you don’t really feel too good about how either of them are gonna go.
The game’s combat feels like a wet fish if I’m honest. Ammo is scarce, but there’s very little impact felt from the guns, be it the underwhelming bang, the weird aiming and the way enemies react. It’s worth looking past to keep on doing the investigation stuff.
I’ve played The Sinking City on a bog standard original Xbox One and from a technical standpoint, the game struggles a fair amount. I’m a bit disappointed that the game is being sold at “full price”, considering that its clearly well below a Triple-A title in terms of… well, a lot. Animations can be janky, graphics are pretty at times but the framerate suffers a lot and the sound and controls are all hit-or-miss in places. Also, don’t expect anything near 1080p/60fps on the standard Xbox One or the S, that’s just not happening.
If this game were priced more between an indie and triple-A I’d be much more likely to recommend it. I might be wrong, but this does reek of Gamepass / PS+ / Sale material, and considering a few more patches might clean the game up, I don’t think waiting would be such a bad thing.