The works Lovecraft have always been a source of inspiration for videogame productions, and recently we had the opportunity to appreciate the Call of Cthulhu di Cyanide Studio.
Even the boys of Frogswares they wanted to be inspired by Howard's stories for theirs The Sinking City, creating a narrative formula that manages to marry perfectly with Lovecraft's style.
The independent study of Frogswares is not new in the investigative genre, given that among its recent productions stand out the various titles dedicated to Sherlock Holmes, the detective of the tales of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.
Seeing the team take on a completely new challenge was certainly pleasant, also because with Sherlock Holmes: The Devil's Daughter they had managed to do a decent job.
We wanted to try The Sinking City and so we threw ourselves into the depths of evil to be able to talk about it in this review.
The origins of evil
Within the story we will take on the role ofprivate investigator Charles W. Reeds, tormented by macabre nightmares and which refer above all to the great dreamer: Cthulhu.
Physically it is fragile and visions with the passage of time become more and more frequent and brutal and, as if that were not enough, the "disease" is visible from the outside through the eyes, as they take on a reddish color, highlighted by dark circles.
Because of all of this, he will end up in having to leave Boston to get to Oakmont, where there are people who are afflicted by the same malaise as the protagonist.
Curiosity drives the protagonist to seeking explanations as well as a cure. The main problem is that the disease is nothing more than a first layer of what awaits him, since the horrors that start from Oakmont are anything but visions or a disease.
Inside the story are the refugee citizens of Innsmouth, refugees who are treated with distrust because of their physical appearance.
The story is revealed as we go through the investigation that we are going to face, trying to mix supernatural elements with human ingenuity.
Everything we learn during our investigations will be filed inside the mental palace, where with a clear mind, we can draw our own conclusions for the case that we will be facing.
Every detail matters
Facing an investigation is never easy, because the game environment is very large e every single element must be analyzed very carefully.
A certain trace will take us to a certain place, but within the crime scene there are also some trivial clues that can sidetrack the investigation leading us to a totally negative consequence, ending the investigation in a bottomless pit.
The investigation component works perfectly, everything is managed by a simple structure but which involves one great responsibility on the shoulders of the gamer who has to face the case.
Learn about the mythology of the works of Lovecraft it will be helpful, especially with regard to certain elements that are omnipresent during the investigation.
Unfortunately it is not easy to be able to trust someone within the game, the wrong choice can lead you to a brutal conclusion, because the game is not kind to anyone.
Not too simple
The only flaw with this component is that it takes a great deal of time to finish a single investigation with dignity, because in every single case there are an enormous number of viable roads.
Even the notes that we will find in "suspicious areas" they can push us to explore faraway places such as hospitals or libraries.
The development team has not included a full-bodied tutorial: everything is in the hands of the gamer, who will have to be able to master the system by himself.
There is also one component that pushes us to fight against creatures and humans, but it doesn't shine particularly and has a number of very obvious defects. The aiming system it is very woody, at least in the PC version which is the one we tried.
The covers are non-existent and the artificial intelligence is rather primordial and does not react rationally. Monsters are used to scare our protagonist, to add a little more difficulty in the reasoning of the cases.
The lovecraftian style
The gloomy and macabre settings they manage to give the right “feeling” of the works of Howard Philips Lovecraft, adding a pinch of personal madness on the part of the Frogwares team.
The dubbing does not particularly excel, but it is not completely discarded either. The soundtrack is functional, there aren't many memorable tracks, but those few manage to enhance the macabre notes of The Sinking City.
On a graphic level we have a swinging engine that particularly stands out in some settings, but fails in animations, since they are very woody and not very "realistic".
We tested the title in detail "Ultra," optimization is well managed and we had no framerate issues. However, we would have expected a little more for the textures of the environments.
Among the defects we point out one paucity of variety of NPCs, many are recycled and it is "slightly" annoying to be talking to the same faces all the time. We feel like promoting the Italian translation, well cared for and we have no errors to report.
It was a very special experience that of The Sinking City, it was thirty hours of pure madness and wickedness. On the narrative side we were very satisfied, Lovecraft's tales have finally received a good videogame adaptation.
Unfortunately, we cannot say the same about the technical sector, the animations are quite woody and often skip a few frames. There is one of the most pleasing things about this work the investigation system, difficult to master but that manages to give the right satisfaction at the end of a case.
We would like to recommend The Sinking City mainly to those who love Lovecraftian stories, or to those looking for an investigative title without great technical claims.