Lovecraft and the terrible creatures in the service of Cthulhu seize Switch. In the analysis of The Sinking City, we delve into the peculiarities of this interesting adventure that gives us the freedom to explore its dark game scenarios while escaping the clutches of madness.
We are so used to being taken hand in hand from side to side, to tell us where to go and when to do it even in open-world games, that when The Sinking City entrusts you with the difficult task of locating a murderer you, instinctively, you expect to be told where to find it. But they do not. No one does it in this video game inspired by the work of the legendary HP Lovecraft that gives us the freedom to explore a dark city, named Oakmont, plunged into chaos after suffering a terrible flood. The reason why this thriller adventure that now opens on Nintendo Switch is such a special title.
As a private investigator you will have to manage to discover for yourself where your goals are hidden; search in police archives, analyze evidence or even check the newspaper library to locate the place of destination on the map. And it is an incredible feeling. Nobody gives you anything in an adventure that forces you to wander in a hostile environment, like real detectives, while step by step you expand your information of the place. All this, of course, with the cosmic horrors of the Providence writer roaming freely. So the experience is incredible, at times exciting, but when you want me to go further, keep surprising … just do the opposite. It deflates, loses strength because of the repetitive that comes back. And it’s a shame. I will talk about it in this analysis, where I also review the particularities of this version for the Nintendo console.
The Sinking City, Dam of Madness
Even after so many years I still remember with affection the many channels with which the classic Eternal Darkness of GameCube put your fear in your body. Has the game been deleted? Has the TV stopped working? Was the mission you just completed not even real? The Silicon Knight team was able to translate the effects of madness into the video game format that Lovecraft portrayed in such stories with such style. Something like that I expected to see in The Sinking City; that he tormented me with insane scenes that changed everything, that made me wonder where the hell I got. He has it … in part.
Our detective suffers from strange hallucinations that torment him in a terrible way, they assault you while you play !, but these are more a narrative resource than an element that truly influences the action. Yes, it is true, his vision is clouded and it costs horrors to shoot with precision or even walk normally, but do not expect to face challenges that really play with your sanity. Only when Charles Reed is seriously affected by madness will creatures appear from his mind capable of physically damaging him; and yet it is easy to escape from it. It is enough to take a medicine to alleviate the effects of madness … and now, what I believe detracts some charm from a video game that successfully recreates the earthquakesCthulhu myths.
The premise is great, but in the end you always perform the same actions.
The first steps by Oakmont are exciting. It is a dark, decadent place that you want to explore knowing that an ancestral evil is hidden in the shadows, prepared, ready to resurface at any moment and end everything. You also do it alone, without allies, marked as “another outsider” that nobody appreciates and therefore, that nobody wants to help in their mission. Want something? Train them to discover for yourself where you are. I said it before. It is one of the aspects that I value most of The Sinking City; the feeling of feeling like a real detective. It could not be otherwise considering that the video game is born from the authors of Sherlock Holmes: Crimes & Punishments.
When investigating you will have to thoroughly explore the crime scene to find clues that help you understand what has happened. Bloodstains, photographs, text notes, the murder weapon! or whatever. All very detective, of course, very much like graphic adventures. Due to his strange visions, the protagonist can even glimpse small bits of the past, fragments of a puzzle not always difficult to solve that will eventually give way to the reconstruction of the facts. How did the attack occur? How did the crime happen? With the key clues in your possession you will enter a kind of dream state where, through echoes of the past, you will have a clearer view of the facts. Your homework? Set the sequence order. It is not very difficult and it is something that leaves you wanting more in the short term.
The premise is great, pure research, but within a few hours, you realize that The Sinking City does not finish exploiting all its virtues. It is exciting to explore, investigate and theorize because you also have the ability to decide and change history with your actions (and if the lack of a clue does act wrongly?), But in the end, it is always the same. Be it a murder, a kidnapping or whatever you want; you will always perform the same actions without changes along the way. And while having fun, because the story catches, disappoints that the game does not go over. There is stealth, yes, but it’s almost useless. You can catch some enemy by surprise … period. In the end, you will have to shoot, whether you like it or not when the essence of the game is a very different one.
There is nothing more stimulating than going to the hospital, the police station or even the local newspaper, and with a few data in hand, to find the position of your goals. Here you have opted for a track system based on labels. What are you looking for? Celebrities, suspects, criminals, sick … and from what district? Date? It is not especially complex but it is varied and open to research. Also, the palace of the mind, Sherlock Holmes style, is another of those elements that make you feel like a real detective. You already have the clues, now bring them together and make sense of them. The best? That there is no single option; As I said you will have to decide and this will determine how some missions are solved. You may pass them without shooting, or you may have to kill dozens of enemies. Do not go to think that it is an action game without more.
The lack of ammunition will be a constant in an adventure that forces you to use your scarce resources with your head, looking for a way to strike at the weak point of the monstrous creatures to save bullets that could later save your life. When you complete missions you will receive ammo as a reward, but you can also manufacture it with the raw materials that you will find exploring the scenarios. The same goes for first aid kits and medicines for sanity. There are many options but rarely deepens them and this takes its toll. Stealth, action, survival, terror … Although The Sinking City is fun and knows how to get hooked on its suspense story, it is hard to get rid of the idea that it wants to cover too much for the resources from which the project is born.
The city is a large stage, well designed, but essentially an empty place, with little to do and lifeless. Yes, of course, there are citizens moving from one place to another, but they are always the same, performing the same actions, walking without a clear direction as souls in pain. The aesthetics are good, the atmosphere is achieved, but after the first hours, the walks through Oakmont become a mere process to go from one crime scene to another. And that’s it. There are better-designed scenarios than others, it is true, but in the end, in all of them you will perform the same actions. It’s a shame because of that you may discard fulfilling some side missions when they have a good story base that delves into the horror universe of Lovecraft. The main story? Interesting, with some exciting moments, but with a rather irregular pace of action that makes him lose strength.
He wants to do a little of everything and in the end, he falls short of most of his facets of play
In general, The Sinking of City is a video game with many chiaroscuri. To give you an idea. You can dive into the deep sea, And see the horrors that are hidden there! but they are so limited game sequences, and even clumsy, that they immediately lose all their appeal. All this with a technical section that complies without great boasting; with scenarios that have lost some detail regarding the PC version, Xbox One and PS4, but that show an acceptable general finish. A greater variety of locations is missing, as there comes a point where you will feel that you explore again and again the same places, the same interiors; and in this case in particular also, with the added problem of popping, that is, elements of the stage such as pedestrians or various objects that suddenly appear in front of us.
The version of Nintendo Switch also hits some pulls and slows down especially when you move in the outdoor areas, but it lets you play and includes certain improvements such as motion control, which helps pointing, or inventory management with the touch screen, which is especially appreciated when you play in portable mode. For all this, although this is a fun and interesting experience, it is hard not to feel somewhat disappointed with this Frogware’s work. He wants to do a little of everything and in the end, he falls short of most of his game facets.
Feeling like a real detective and investigating the cosmic horrors of Lovecraft is great, and just for that reason, any fan of the writer should try The Sinking City. Action, stealth, terror, and survival go hand in hand in an open-world adventure that is faithful to the dark myths of Cthulhu, with a story that captures and surprises by the macabre of its stories, by the murky of the environments it describes. The game feels limited in many ways, but it is one of the best experiences based on the work of the author in the mountains of madness.
- The commitment to research; have to find the goals for yourself
- The story follows with interest and takes advantage of the cosmic horrors of Lovecraft
- A successful setting, with a good design of scenarios and enemies
- Decisions that subtly change the course of events
- Stealth is very wasted and there is little variety in action
- History loses some strength due to lack of a better narrative rhythm
- Although the effects of madness are fine, they could have given more of themselves.
- Some slowdowns cloud a correct visual section on Nintendo Switch