GameTech: Plumb the depths of adventure

GameTech: Plumb the depths of adventure
The Sinking City is primarily an adventure game which takes place in the weird and twisted city of Oakmont.

Sometimes, you get that sinking feeling when playing a game. Other times, a game floats your boat immediately. The Sinking City is one of those rare experiences that might just do both.

Yet another game based on the works of HP Lovecraft and his Cthulhu Mythos, The Sinking City isn’t just soaked in water — it’s drenched in atmosphere too. Primarily an adventure game, it takes place in the weird and twisted city of Oakmont, where the inhabitants and their stories create most of the entertainment. From oddball cults to a librarian with her mouth sewn shut, the people of Oakmont are a crew well worth visiting.

Meanwhile, the main protagonist Charlie Reed has his own problems. A veteran of the Great War, detective Reed has been having nightmarish visions and believes he is losing his grip on sanity. He journeys to Oakmont to find the source of his visions and quickly becomes wrapped up in the city’s strange flooding and the mystery behind it all.

The Sinking City comes from the creators of Sherlock Holmes, a highly successful series of adventure games which were released across multiple platforms. Some of the same approaches and mechanics can be found here, including a ‘mind palace’ in which Charlie pieces together investigations, and the manner in which he picks up clues from books and his surroundings to solve mysteries.

The dialogue and the atmosphere are the definite standout elements of The Sinking City. While not the greatest story or writing we’ve ever seen, the subject matter and the unique setting do add a welcome twist to the mid-budget genre in which the game belongs.

What doesn’t work so well are the other elements shoehorned into The Sinking City. There are some poor shooting sections that never feel polished and can often get irritating. You can also craft items, which isn’t something that would transitionally appeal to the adventure fan and doesn’t add a huge amount to the overall enjoyment in this case.

We don’t like to be too hard on mid-range games like The Sinking City. If you like the sound of the Lovecraft setting and a detective game in a weird environment, then ignore the lack of polish and sink some cash into The Sinking City.

RISE TO THE CHALLENGE

On the other hand, if you’re looking for something on the rise, look no further than Awesome Games Done Quick. The annual speedrunning event came to an end on Sunday and raised an incredible $3m (€2.6m) over the course of its weeklong run, blowing past last year’s total of $2.1m (€1.8m). There were more than 50,000 donations, with an average of $60 per donation.

As always, there were plenty of great moments during the week, but the highlight for this writer came right at the very end. The closing run of the event was the masterful Chrono Trigger, widely considered the greatest 16-bit RPG ever made. Watching runner puwexil beat the game 100% in less than six hours was a wonderful trip down memory lane and, considering the time travel theme of Chrono Trigger, a fitting journey into the past.

Meanwhile, there was also a cool speedrun of Minecraft, a surprising choice given that it’s such a randomly generated game, but the result was loads of fun to watch.

Finally, if you want to watch something mind-boggling, take a look at the blindfolded Super Mario relay race, in which the featured players take turns running the game while blindfolded.

The Awesome Games Done Quick 2019 speedruns can all be viewed on YouTube and you can still donate to the event at gamesdonequick.com despite its finishing, with all proceeds going to Doctors Without Borders.

CAN’T CATCH ‘EM ALL

Finally, from The Sinking City to a flood of complaints. The creators of the highly anticipated new-generation Pokemon Sword and Shield have been facing the ire of hardcore fans, after the developers announced that we won’t be able to ‘catch ’em all’ this time around.

Traditionally, players were able to import previously captured pokemon into their new games, but this Sword and Shield will only allow Pokemon from the featured Galar region to be collected.

“The world of Pokemon continues to evolve,” said the game’s producer. “The Galar region offers new Pokemon to encounter, trainers to battle, and adventures to embark on.”

They might have to capture back their fans, next.

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