Raking Out of Horror: The Sinking City Review (Topic)

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Raking Out of Horror: The Sinking City Review


The Ukrainian studio Frogwares has established itself as the creator of good games about Sherlock Holmes, where the focus has always been on deduction mechanics. However, their interest was not limited to one icon of twentieth century literature, Conon Doyle, and they decided to lean towards the second - the stories of Howard Lovecraft. So an attempt was born to mix these two works of different spirit in the form of the project The Sinking City. The attempt came out, of course, not bad, but not great, but the mystery of the "Sinking City" is still worth solving, which we will do in our review on The Sinking City.

Burial at Sea

We play as Charles Reed - a former sailor from the Cyclops ship, which disappeared many years ago in the Bermuda Triangle. Our protagonist turned out to be the only survivor from the entire crew and moved his head: he began to see the dead, hear strange sounds, and with such a track record of mental disorders, he has one road - to private detectives [there can be no other way in Lovecraft games, if you don't believe, read our top lovecraft games].

He learns about the city of Oakmont, where a strange flood occurred, because of which the city began to slowly sink. Moreover, the flood turned out to be so possessed that people there began to suffer similar problems with their heads, like our hero. Comparing two + two, he decided to go to this town and find answers about his past.


Quite quickly, we plunge into a political struggle for power in the city, and all our cases that we investigate, one way or another, have political motives. Plus, the police will also attack you, because you are taking away the bread here.

The game shows that the developers know exactly how to work with the source material, touching on a lot of the principles laid down by Lovecraft, and have created their own unique story.


The killer is ...

The game has two bold pluses. The first is the detective component. And it is not surprising, given that the studio has previously dealt with such games only. You collect evidence from different places, and then connect them using deduction to move on. Also, our hero can use his "abnormality", because with its help he turns all sorts of mystical tricks. For example, looking at the corpse, Charles sees what happened to the person shortly before his death. He sees mysterious figures that may point to clues or even plunge into the recent past.


I am glad that the developers refused to lead us by the handle. We are constantly looking for clues, drawing conclusions and juxtaposing everything in our "Halls of Mind", the local analogue of the notebook. So we go from location to location, collect everything bit by bit, and then draw a conclusion. Moreover, our conclusions can be quite subjective. For example, is the criminal a brutal killer, or is his mind taken over by local dark forces (which is common in Oakmont) and he is not responsible for his actions? So decide whether to give it to the authorities or not, but the game will not give you an unambiguous conclusion.

There are no signs in The Sinking City that kindly say “come here”. Most often, we only have a general description of the place to which we need to go, so we will have to study the map for a long time in the hope of finding this place. It happens that you yourself need to find a description of the location, go to the town hall or the police station, rummage through the documents, find addresses or leads. But even there no one will give you documents just like that, you need to correctly, so to speak, "add funds". As a last resort, you can read the newspaper and find some information there.


The downside is probably that going back and forth around the city is a rather difficult process. Constant swimming, jumping and running around get bored with time. Yes, you can use fast travel, but long loading screens make it slower.

But the investigations themselves, although interesting, rather strongly knock down the Lovecraft story itself. It seems to be served in fragments, and those that you quickly forget and hardly remember. And it happens in the spirit of "Oh, right, I forgot that the game is Lovecraft, tax, what we had a couple of hours ago?"


Sinking in the atmosphere

The second significant advantage of the game is the atmosphere. There are no questions at all, Oakmont is simply gorgeous. All these gray colors, humidity, dim lanterns are ugly people - it is as if you are being dipped headlong into a barrel of atmosphere and covered with a lid.

And everything seems to be fine, until the monsters come out ... This is where the most frail part of the gameplay begins. The combat system isn't bad, namely sluggish, slow and boring. It tires more than it should please. Melee combat, consisting of one attack animation, with no reaction of the enemy to damage, looks at least rotten, and the weapon feels unnatural, as if it were a toy fart that does not cause damage.


However, the grotesque monsters themselves create a constant tension, which should accompany the immersion in this dark and mystical world. Although one should not expect any special revelations from the game, because the very essence of Lovecraft's work is in forcing and fear of the unknown, but there is no such thing.

Applied Lutology

Broken in the game is not only combat, but also the loot system, which is emphasized here. In the city, because of the cataclysm, as in Metro, people trade in supplies, and cartridges act as currency. But if in Metro you feel a constant lack of ammunition, then in The Sinking City, with a reasonable use of resources, their lack is imperceptible in principle. Plus, the crafting system isn't perfect either. You can find a cache full of valuable loot, pick up everything, move away from this place, return in a minute and loot it again, because there is a respawn here.


A bit of madness

The whole game is tied to different triggers, which at times enrage. For example, the evidence will not appear on the location until you talk to a certain character. You will not be able to go to another location until you complete a series of actions, and do not care that you already understood where the climax of the quest will be.


The game also suffers from the "spineless six" syndrome. This is how I describe the heroes of the game who, while completing one quest (and a flawed one), stumble upon hundreds of others, as if they have nothing to do. It's like in Skyrim, when, after killing a dragon in front of the local guild, it sends you to poison rats in the basement to test your fitness. Specifically, in The Sinking City, when completing one quest, you speak to a character, and he is like: "No, go do this for me and this," then you come across another character, and he also sends you on the third task. And how did it all begin? Who knows.

And as already mentioned, concentration on Lovecraft is only at the beginning and at the end, and everything in the middle is quite distinctive, but not that.


As a result, the game has a lot of technical problems, but the investigations, visualization and side quests are good. But everything else is kind of sluggish. Due to the rigid harness to the triggers, the open world feels a bit linear ...

And the underactive combat system leaves an unpleasant impression. The game should obviously be shorter, because 30 hours is too much even for a good detective.


After the review on The Sinking City, you can only put 7 tentacles out of 10. I would like this to be an excellent Lovecraft game, but alas, it did not become so. However, it is not bad and I still recommend playing it.

The Topic of Article: Raking Out of Horror: The Sinking City Review.
Author: Jake Pinkman