How The Sinking City Redefines Investigation in Games

Hands-on With The Sinking City

Much like their film counterparts, crime games are a blast to follow along for the ride and see the elaborate story unfold before your eyes. The bad guy frames the good guy, bodies are piling up, and in the end, our plucky hero comes out on top. Of course along the way said hero has had to do some sleuthing and learned the facts along the way, and this sort of thing is what video games as a genre excel at – examining and piecing together a puzzle. Developed by Frogwares and published by BigBen Interactive, The Sinking City has taken the investigation mechanic of games and turned it into something much more beautifully complex yet easily approachable – and of course put it against one of the greatest backdrops in narrative, Lovecraftian horror.

The Sinking City was on full display at E3 this year and I was fortunate enough to go hands-on with this fascinating nightmare that our hero Charles Reed is forced to endure. As a P.I. from Boston, Charles has begun experiencing terrible visions and heard tell of people in the strange city of Oakmont, Massachusetts experiencing the same haunting visions. Upon arriving in the city, Charles discovers it has been perpetually flooded and cut off from the mainland, yet the water has nowhere to go and an eerie silence wades over the town.

The Sinking City

During the demo, Charles is asked to solve the murder of a medium at the Crown Theater. Arriving at the crime scene you’ll clearly see the police markers for the evidence yet this is the only help the game offered. You’ll take the time to examine everything you can in the room and utilize a strange ability Charles has when inspecting things; he is able to examine a piece of evidence and see through time to the items history and gather more information on its origin. Once all of the evidence in the theater was collected, Reed entered a portal that ripped through reality in the room and was able to use the evidence to see a few glimpses of moments that occurred. It is then up to the player to determine in which order these events happened.

The Sinking City

As the developers told me, as long as the order in which you place these events makes logical sense, the game will allow it, play out the scene, and adapt the narrative to your findings. It was incredible to watch and the possibilities for mid and late game use of this system could mean so much as the crimes get more and more complex. The murder in question was perpetrated by a man pretending to be Charles, and through a strong of dialogue you hear someone is claiming to be an eyewitness to the crime. Hearing the witnesses name, talking to other citizens, and gaining intel will give you a wide range of options in how you feel is the best way to approach the situation and NO way is right or wrong. It’s a fascinatingly complex system and I really cannot wait to get lost in The Sinking City when it launches June 27th on PC, PlayStation 4, and Xbox One, and a little later to the Nintendo Switch.

Are you interested in The Sinking City? Will you be picking it up? Let us know your thoughts on Facebook, Twitter, or the comments section below, and for all things, E3 be sure to keep it locked on COGconnected.