It’s been a while since I’ve done a game review on this blog – what better way to re-start this type of post than with a game I replayed recently that nobody cares about anymore, “The Sinking City”!
Frogwares are more known for their Sherlock Holmes games, so I was surprised when they released a Lovecraftian horror title. I had a decent time with it, but I also had my gripes – you’ll have to stick around to find out my thoughts!
Before we begin, you can check out some of my related blog posts below:
“The Sinking City” prides itself on its Lovecraftian roots, and that’s definitely the best part of its main narrative. The apocalyptic setting of Oakmont is filled to the brim with dour stories of betrayal and cosmic horrors, and the game developers did a brilliant job of tying multiple themes – like sanity and discrimination – into its old-fashioned open world.
The side stories are also fairly interesting, albeit slightly shallow and quick in some cases, but it was the ending that let this game down. I won’t go into too many spoiler-y details here, as I’ll save that for my “Not-So-Good” section, but I’ll tell you now that the multiple endings did nothing to satisfy the deep narrative that had been so meticulously set up.
“The Sinking City” wears its Resident Evil inspirations on its sleeve, but I think it’s unique and adaptive enough to be valued as its own idea.
I really loved all of the survival horror elements, and scavenging for the tiniest bits of ammo to fend of the monstrous hordes was genuinely chilling at times. It’s a game that got my blood pumping, I’ll give them that, but the long stretches of tedium travelling between locations could have been handled better.
I’ve mentioned the Lovecraftian inspirations, and I’ve also touched on the survival horror elements – those two things combine to create an unsettling atmosphere like no other.
You never have any idea what monstrosity is lurking around each corner, and the dips in sanity – as well as the general weirdness of Oakmont – did wonders to draw me into its world and inner workings.
This category won’t be scored like the others, but instead I’ll look at some of the shortcomings with the game as a whole, and why I think it came so close to – but didn’t quite succeed in – becoming a classic. There will be SPOILERS in this section.
Let’s start with the story – most of the characters you meet along the way were completely forgettable and one-note, and existed purely as a suspect or to re-emphasise a discrimination against one of the many Oakmont races.
Also, and the worst offender of all, the ending was abysmal. You get three choices in the end if you count the secret option, and all of them suck. You either commit suicide, get lulled to your death like a chump, or delay the inevitable and die later. You don’t get to see the consequences of any of these choices, and it feels as if the dev team ran out of budget.
As for the gameplay, the general locations and movement felt a little static. Getting between points A and B becomes quite a slog, even when you fast travel, and all of the houses and workshops you visit look vaguely the same. It’s okay to have a distinct style, but some decorative variety never hurt anyone!
It’s all well and good if your game is technically perfect, but how fun is it for the average guy to play?
I’d say I had the same level of enjoyment playing “The Sinking City” the second time as I did the first – the survival horror aspect was engaging, and it was easy to get lost in the Lovecraftian lore.
Unfortunately, it got a bit stale after a while. Movement was clunky, enemy variety thinned out, and the story didn’t go to too many bold places. All in all, a very safe game, which is the last thing it should have been.
There were some good ideas on display in “The Sinking City”, and you can tell the creative team were on top form when designing the dreary world and its Lovecraftian story, but it doesn’t quite come together in the way I wanted it to.
Final Score: 7/10
|+ Atmosphere||– Ending|
|+ Survival Horror||– Static Environments|
|+ Deep Lore||– Forgettable characters|
Aaaand that’s my list! You can check out some of my latest blog posts below:
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