First Impressions: The Sinking City

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***Apologies for the lack of images.  I’d planned on using my own, but of course the PS4’s screenshot feature isn’t working for me the one time it’s actually useful instead of superfluous.***

Nowadays I think $60 games have to be better than ever.  There’s simply too many quality budget and indie titles for a full-priced game to be anything less than great.  As I’ve mentioned before, as a big Lovecraft fan I was really looking forward to The Sinking City, so I figured I’d throw down some impressions.  I love the source material and I’ve enjoyed some of the Sherlock Holmes games of the recent past, so I welcomed the investigative elements that this game was going to have.

Unfortunately, this game has been a bit of a rough ride so far.  I’m about 5 hours into it and I’ve been struggling with it most of the way.  Almost everything I’ve taken issue with has been on the technical side.

The graphics are merely passable compared to what we’re currently used to.  I’m mostly able to live with it other than the cut scenes.  It would’ve been nice for them to have at least given the main character some decent facial animation.  He has dead eyes that never move and it’s distracting.  Also, everyone has about a five second loop of gestures while speaking.  Said loop sometimes ends a moment after the character has finished talking, so you have moments where someone goes silent but is still gesticulating with their hands.  The game also seems to have problems simply cutting the camera back and forth between characters.  It hitches and glitches weirdly when simply alternating between two people talking.

The above is not unlike the Sherlock games I mentioned earlier, so I’m mostly at peace with it.  Not happy about it, but at peace with it.  The game has other technical issues though.  There is a lot of pop-in for a game released in 2019.  The typical frame rate of 60 FPS drops fairly often, even if just a little.  The game is open world, but there isn’t much to do.  This choice honestly makes the game worse.  You’re constantly running around, desperate to find one of the meager fast travel points provided.  Much of the flooded city must be traversed by boat, but it’s not impressive.  It’s just boring and cumbersome, and I haven’t even gotten into the graphical bugs.

You know what though?  I’m still interested in progressing in this one simply because it really does nail the Lovecraft theme.  That’s what I wanted the most.  Of course, a better technical experience would’ve been nice.  From what I’ve seen I don’t think my opinion will change much, but if you want a Lovecraft game then you’ll enjoy this enough.  If you don’t care about Lovecraft, I would do your research before spending your money.

The developers seem to have taken great care in capturing the look and feel of the horror master’s works.  For those of us who deem that important, I don’t think they can be thanked enough.  I was hoping to seen an evolution in the Sherlock gameplay I’ve seen prior though, and it’s just not there from what I’ve seen so far.

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