The Sinking City | Review | Switch - Japan-based Nintendo Podcasts, Videos & Reviews!


Friday, September 20, 2019

The Sinking City | Review | Switch

by James Charlton

The Sinking City is like a recipe of different games mixed into one. The movement and enemy encounters are like Resident Evil or Silent Hill, the story and atmosphere are like Eternal Darkness, and the open world nature and sleuthing / puzzle solving features are like LA Noire. Quite a mix!

The story takes places in a fake city called Oakmont which is in a real state called Massachusetts, and oh boy is the city in real state! After a devastating flood, the whole city is covered in dirt, slime, and pieces of giant squid. It’s not a pleasant place to be in, and the constant feeling of death and despair never goes away. Couple that with the fact the main character is suffering from delusions and anxiety, and almost everyone he meets has something wrong with them and/or is horrifically ugly, it’s probably not the game to play as a pick-me-up!

The main character Charles Reed is a private detective on a mission to discover the source of his nightmares, and the cause of mass hysteria amongst the Oakmont citizens, all of which seem to be caused by the flood…but what caused the flood?

You will be picking up evidence from around the environment, reading notes and combining clues to make conclusions. I mean all of these things literally by the way, none of this is automatic or spelled out for you, no markers are dropped onto the map with a big “go here” sign. Much like Sherlock or any other good detective you have a “mind palace” where you must sift through items and notes you’ve collected to form ideas of what to do or where to go next. Thankfully the game lets you adjust the difficulty of both the combat and investigation parts of the game, so if you’re feeling a bit overwhelmed you can make things (a bit) easier. If you don’t like reading or doing actual detective work, you might get stuck even on the easiest settings.

Some of the coolest parts of the investigations are straight out of Batman Arkham Origins. First you switch on your “Mind’s Eye” (detective vision), and then you proceed to recreate events which happened in the past by exploring the area in that mode.

The story is probably the most interesting aspect of the game, and you will feel compelled to keep going. As I mentioned earlier it has a lot of Eternal Darkness vibes thanks to its heavy inspiration from H.P. Lovecraft, there is even an insanity meter that goes down when confronted by enemies or places with weird vibes. The focus in the Sinking City is mostly on story, with combat areas being clearly marked as “infected zones”, meaning you can even avoid them completely in early parts of the game. It’s probably for the best that the shooting and combat is not the focus of the game, as neither feel very good. Shooting some of the medium-sized enemies feels like a waste of money (bullets are the currency in the game) as they seem to take way more bullets than any zombie in a Resident Evil game ever did.

Technically, it’s a marvel at how this is even running on Switch. After a lengthy load at the start of the game, there isn’t much at all after that which is impressive considering the whole game takes place in one huge open world city. The graphics have been scaled quite a lot to fit it on Switch and it’s impressive that it even runs on the console, but this is not a beautiful game. It also features some of the most egregious pop-in I’ve even seen in a game, with grass being rendered literally metres from where the main character is standing.

So who should buy The Sinking City? If you’re a huge sucker for film noire and H.P Lovecraft, care more about a games’ story and atmosphere than literally anything else, then maybe this is for you. If you’re looking for an open-world Resident Evil game, then you will be disappointed, it’s far too slow-paced and clumsy to satisfy you.

Final Score: 6.0

Review code provided by the publisher

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