The Sinking City: Story, Gameplay, and Trailers

The sinking city, lovecraft, cthulhu, frogwares, monsters
Your character's mental health will worsen upon seeing anything traumatic.

The Sinking City Story

The Strange Land: Given that The Sinking City contains many elements of mystery, your guess is as good as mine when it comes to answering “What the hell is this place, and why is that man walking toward a cascade of what appears to be lava?”

Open world. Investigation. Lovecraft.

These are the three main pillars of The Sinking City, an upcoming third-person adventure game inspired by the works of American horror writer H.P. Lovecraft. Set in 1920s America, this is very much a game of investigation and mystery, where you’ll descend into an open world terrorized by floods of supernatural origin. Dropped into the fictional Oakmont, Massachusetts, you’ll step into the shoes of a private investigator who must uncover the shadowy source that’s taken ahold of the city and its residents.

It’s not the water itself driving those of Oakmont beyond madness . . . it’s more so what came with the floods.

The Sinking City Development & Release Date

Frogwares, the Ukrainian-based developer best known for its Sherlock Holmes series, first announced production on The Sinking City back in the spring of 2016. The game is still in production, which is to be expected considering the studio has labeled it their biggest and most ambitious project to date in terms of gameplay, story, and the overall user experience.

Steeped in mystery, many answers won’t come until the game’s official release date on June 27, 2019. In today’s I-want-it-and-I-want-it-now! landscape, that feels like a lifetime away, I know. But rest assured Lovecraft enthusiasts, this game is in good hands, as Frogwares previously (and successfully) plunged into the mythos of the revered author in Sherlock Holmes: The Awakened.

Still, when the game drops, we can expect many elements that have become associated with the Roaring Twenties. As Frogwares puts it, “It’s a very distinct and often romanticized period of time in the U.S. history: economic growth, rise of consumerism, jazz, prohibition, gangsters and ethnic conflicts.”

Couple those 1920s’ ingredients with the fact that Oakmont is a place of “dark and sinister secrets,” and you’ve got yourself a compelling game-world with endless possibilities.

The Sinking City Trailers

The Sinking City Teaser Trailer

This fantastically eerie teaser provides glimpses into the cosmic horrors terrorizing the drowning city of Oakmont.

We’ve got a man motoring between buildings via boat, firing a handgun at a swimming monster with writhing tentacles. We’ve got said monster flipping the man’s boat with one of its slimy appendages because monsters have to protect themselves, too, right?

Underwater the man goes and a sense of otherworldliness ensues, as though we’ve crossed into a new plane of existence. A door looms and then beckons. The man pushes the door ajar, and now we’re (maybe) back in the real world. But what’s real? Giant scaly hands?

Me IRL. This is going to be quite the hallucinatory, kaleidoscopic adventure. Take my money, Frogwares. Take it now.

The Sinking City E3 2018 Trailer

Another teaser, this one no less strange and spectacular. It’s the kind of stuff that dreams are made of: a guy with facial tats amidst scarring and gashes, sitting in a lantern-lit bar . . . a self-rotating chair luring our protagonist to sit, as though it’s been moved by a supernatural force—which, yeah, it probably has been . . . warped images of a creaking floor and, yep, our main character being dragged by an invisible energy across the room to that eerie chair . . . something, maybe blood and guts, in a glass on the tabletop (no way this bar is up to code) . . . no words were spoken . . . a cough from the old bartender and, long shot, the facial-tatted man has disappeared.

I don’t know about you, but I need a drink. Barkeep, slide me some bathtub gin.

The Sinking City Gameplay

The Sinking City Interview and Alpha Gameplay

At E3, Sergey Oganesyan, the Community Manager at Frogwares, sat down with NVIDIA to discuss The Sinking City. Spliced with the interview is some alpha gameplay, which, in spite of not being wholly polished, gives us a better look at the flow of the game. Also, creepy monsters.

Oganesyan really stokes the open-world fire by hinting at the game’s “no-handholding” approach, meaning you, the gamer, will truly get to play detective and solve mysteries. For instance, he says, “. . . we give [the gamers] information, we give them evidence, we give them clues, we give them all of that.” In return, however, Oganesyan urges soon-to-be players of The Sinking City to use all supplied information wisely.

At the end of the day, expect neither map markers nor specific objectives, as in Go here! This game’s all about freedom of choice, cause, and effect. So tread lightly in this world of desolation, decay, and cosmic fear.

The Sinking City News

Above water: Presumably the angry, tentacled beast from the Teaser Trailer

The big news, of course, is the aforementioned release date: June 27, 2019. But Frogwares has also released some tidbits regarding the roles of insanity and gunplay in The Sinking City.

In a recent blog post and Q&A, Sergey Oganesyan confirms that, yes, gamers can expect what he calls the “insanity mechanic,” a nod to the recurrent theme of insanity in much of H.P. Lovecraft’s work. “Discovering beings so ancient,” writes Oganesyan, “so incomprehensibly complex and powerful can easily devastate one’s mental state. So to no one’s surprise, we want to have it in our game.”

Given what we’ve seen from the two trailers thus far, I think it’s safe to say that our leading private investigator will have to overcome both physical and psychological horrors in his—and our—quest for answers.

Re: How do guns work against cosmic beings, Oganesyan answers, “. . . combat is a major part of The Sinking City, and it’s not a game where you can only run away or hide from enemies. We actually want to give you tools to stand your ground if necessary.” Expect weapons like revolvers, shotguns, and rifles—guns common throughout the 1920s. However, there’s not an unlimited amount of ammunition, so you’ll have to make decisions about whether to engage in combat, use stealth around creatures, or sometimes run the hell away.

In addition to the above information pertaining to the insanity mechanic and gunplay, Frogwares has released a couple of fascinating behind-the-scenes videos, illustrating their approach to city generation and character creation. If you like having nightmares, the time-lapse video is the perfect catalyst, so watch it right before sleepy time in a dark room with headphones on. Also, dangle one of your feet over the edge of your bed.

Peep both videos below.

The Sinking City “City Generator” Tech Demo

Is it just me or does Sergey Oganesyan sound like Tommy Wiseau?

Jokes aside, the above video gives us an intriguing behind-the-scenes glimpse at how the creative team behind The Sinking City developed their very own tool to generate the game’s “vast and diverse map.”  

The Sinking City 3D Concept Art Time Lapse

You may also be interested in: 

The Sinking City Gameplay: 10 Most Interesting Facts You Should Know
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