It’s hard enough being a private eye when the world makes sense, but when there’s fish-men on every corner, weird cults and magic involved, investigating crimes in The Sinking City looks tricky. It’s a challenge I’m eager to try my hand at, though, after seeing the latest chunk of footage from Frogware’s upcoming survival horror detective adventure. There’s clues to find, but no prompts popping up saying you’ve cracked the case – the player gets to decide when they’ve built up a strong enough profile to accuse a suspect. Take an investigative peek for yourself below.
While The Sinking City will include some combat against supernatural monsters, and the occasional trip through mystical realms, the heart of it looks to be proper detective-work. Using systems lifted from Frogwares’s Sherlock Holmes series, players piece together a profile of the crime from a board of motives, suspects and evidence gathered. It’s an intriguing web of systems, aided by the protagonist knowing a bit of magic himself. In classic early 2000s supernatural detective fashion, he can see visions of the past, although they’re not exactly admissible in a court of law.
The game is set in a post-Lovecraftian 1920s where people are adjusting to the rising, haunted tides. Not everything otherworldly is trying to kill you – some of them just appear to be regular citizens. You shouldn’t accuse a suspect of seeming a fishy just because they’ve got gills and recently moved here from Innsmouth. It subtly shifts the tone of the whole game, with the obligatory eldritch horror ‘insanity’ effects just being something to deal with, rather than a looming failure state. After all, if the world’s gone mad, then you’d stand out if you didn’t freak out a little, too.
The Sinking City was originally slated for a March 21st release, but that number has disappeared from its Steam store page in favour of a vague “2019”. You can see a little bit more on its official page here. It’s to be published by Bigben Interactive.