Back in October, 2018, Call of Cthulhu came out as a video game with a bunch of huge promises. Not the least of which were an open world, an RPG system that mattered, multiple methods to solve cases, and stunning quality development.
They pretty much failed to deliver on every single point with the exception that SOME cases could be solved in different ways. All around, it was a pretty big disappointment, one that I regretted paying full price for. So when the Sinking City was on the verge of coming out, I had high hopes this company could actually deliver.
And for the most part, they did. This is a far better example of the Lovecraft Mythos, focusing on a fictional island town that's been the subject of a terrible flood, turning it into horror Venice. You are a private detective heading out there because you've had creepy visions and sanity problems so immersion therapy is on the menu.
Much of the set up is exactly the same as Call of Cthulhu. The Sinking City has a world that feels a little more realistic in the sense that there are more people roaming around. Sadly, you can't interact with most of them. The place also is vast by comparison and you can free roam it for the most part.
These are the folks who brought us the Sherlock Holmes games and as a result, they focus heavy on collecting evidence and putting it together into deductions. You also have a supernatural power that lets you see into a spirit realm of sorts then engage a 'retrocognition'. That's you recreating crime scenes so you understand what happened.
There's a combat aspect of the game as well where you can shoot monsters or people who take shots at you as well. It's pretty creepy. Resources are tight (the town immediately turned to bartering because I guess they figure they'll never reconnect with the US) so you can't go hog wild with your guns.
Crafting is simply gathering the necessary parts, going to your inventory, and making stuff. You have a health meter and a sanity meter and a couple items to restore each of them. As you lose the sanity, the screen freaks out and you really do start seeing things. They did a great job with that one. I've wasted ammo on things I'm certain were hallucinations.
The atmosphere is spot on. It's a gorgeous game that's scared me several times. It's also far more fair than say...Resident Evil 7. That game was just brutal for no reason where this one you can squirm your way out of real problems easily enough.
Before I move on to the next part, I will say I'm enjoying the hell out of the game. I really like it. But there are problems and they MIGHT be show stoppers for you. Read on to see what I found to be issues.
First off, the voice acting, while dramatically better than Call of Cthulhu, is still pretty bad. It's almost like the people they got to do the acting don't know how to inflect questions properly. Sometimes they sound cheerful, then annoyed then apathetic...it's like their Prozium isn't at the right dose or something.
Second, there are a LOT of bugs. I've been trapped behind walls, fell behind things you can't get out of, etc. Some of the monsters glitch into the wall and you can take your time shooting them. That gets old pretty fast.
Third, there was a scene where a normal person ran in and started shooting at me. It was about the least climactic, most ridiculously comical firefight I've seen in a game. He ran in, arm out, taking shots as he sort of danced back and forth like he had to pee.
I have a minor gripe about how they send you to new locations. Some are on the map and others you have to hunt down by looking for cross streets. If I understood why some are on there and others aren't, I'd forgive it. But it seems pretty arbitrary.
They also released 3 side missions as day 1 DLC. That's pretty shifty IMO. It's obvious it should've been in the game and yet they stiffed you for an extra 25 bucks. Plus, they did it by relating it to the Necronomicon. Kind of shameful to be perfectly honest.
Some of the cases seem pretty linear. It doesn't entirely hold your hand, but it's obvious enough where you have to go. Plus, you can't avoid certain steps. They're required to continue on. This cuts into the 'open world' part of the game a bit.
The RPG part is rough. I've done a lot of stuff and only picked up three knowledge points (each one buys a new skill). They seem useful enough (carry more ammo, carry more first aid, take more damage) but it'll be a while to get even half of them.
I'm still really enjoying it and I look forward to finishing the game. I've already put more time into it than it took to beat Call of Cthulhu. I recommend the game if you really enjoy Lovecraft work, want to play an adventure game that harkens back to the Gabriel Knight days (with some light combat) and want to see an interesting story.
Rating: 3.75 out of 5
Author of several books, composer of several CDs. Please check out the rest of the site for some of my work.