The Sink­ing City

The Great Old Ones are the least of your wor­ries

Games Master - - Preview Future Hits Played Now! - Jess Kinghorn

There is some­thing very wrong in Oak­mont. As WWI vet­eran Charles Winfield Reed, you’re go­ing to get to the bot­tom of it. Un­for­tu­nately, that puts you slap-bang be­tween the devil and the deep blue sea. Reed is haunted by a su­per­nat­u­ral in­ci­dent that dec­i­mated his fel­low crew mem­bers aboard the USS Cy­clops, plagued by night­mares that spur him on­ward through­out Oak­mont – come Hell or high wa­ter. And nei­ther of those op­tions are purely metaphor­i­cal. A flood has sub­merged half the town and the wa­ter sim­ply isn’t dis­si­pat­ing. The place is like an Amer­i­can Venice, though with fewer tourists. Reed will need to hop into his trusty mo­tor­boat, the Cy­clops II, to tra­verse much of its trou­bled wa­ters. While these are def­i­nitely cur­rents you wouldn’t want to take a dip into, things aren’t much safer on land.

Why sew quiet?

In our time with the game, Reed learns of the plight of a lo­cal li­brar­ian, Joy, and goes to visit her at her place of work. She is uniquely qual­i­fied for her role – her mouth has been sewn shut. Through su­tured lips she tells us that some­one has bro­ken into her apart­ment mul­ti­ple times. She gives us her key and Reed sets off to in­ves­ti­gate.

Upon ac­cept­ing the mis­sion, no tooltip pops up. You’ll need to pore over your own map of Oak­mont and plot a course your­self. We set sail for Joy’s flat, where quite a scene awaits. The first thing we lay eyes on is a melted cam­era. Reed com­ments that there isn’t much hope of de­vel­op­ing its con­tents. Con­tin­u­ing to poke around Joy’s flat, we learn that she used to be a no­table opera singer and un­cover what pre­cip­i­tated her cruel and un­usual fate. Let­ters from her par­ents chide her for say­ing things she shouldn’t, though ap­pear com­pletely un­will­ing to con­front the hor­ror of what has hap­pened to their daugh­ter… but at the

“Pok­ing around joy’s flat, We find traces of a well-cared-for dog and… well, more than traces of the dog it­self”

very least it ap­pears dear old Mum and Dad were the ones who se­cured her new job. We find traces of a well-cared-for dog and… well, more than traces of the dog it­self; who­ever broke in was hardly a friend to the an­i­mals.

See­ing the poor ca­nine’s corpse opens up a psy­cho­log­i­cal wound for Reed and for a split-se­cond the hor­ror of the scene over­whelms him. Tear­ing his gaze away he fol­lows the blood to a thor­oughly drenched sewing ma­chine and dis­cov­ers the fi­nal ‘project’ on a nearby side­board.

“It’s still wet!” Reed re­coils in dis­gust.

Reed has a unique ad­van­tage as an in­ves­ti­ga­tor: what­ever hap­pened to him aboard the USS Cy­clops now al­lows him to see snip­pets of the past. Re­trac­ing his steps around Joy’s flat re­veals more of the shadow we’re chas­ing, and we learn that it’s not just Joy who’s come into their crosshairs. It turns out the melted cam­era be­longed to her neigh­bour… who won’t an­swer their door.

Time to bust out an­other trick up our in­ves­ti­ga­tor’s sleeve: con­cen­tra­tion mode. When ac­ti­vated, ten­drils of light trace a path to­wards points of in­ter­est, this time lead­ing us to a locked door. Thank­fully the locks on our side are no match for our bul­lets.

We’re led down­wards and right into an am­bush. There’s a fleshy creepy-crawly try­ing des­per­ately to hold our at­ten­tion while a big­ger, un­canny mess of limbs dishes out dam­age. Thank­fully, all it takes is a few shots to fell both. Any more than that and our ammo re­serves would be in se­ri­ous trou­ble. We’re told that bul­lets will be hard to come by and that you should save them for when you ab­so­lutely need them. With the base­ment clear of cos­mic hor­rors, Reed no­tices some­thing fishy – again, prob­a­bly not purely a metaphor – about a nearby box. Con­cen­trat­ing on it, the box is re­vealed to be merely an il­lu­sion hid­ing next door’s key.

Traips­ing back up­stairs, we learn that Joy’s un­wanted vis­i­tor was far more than just cam­era-shy, as the would-be pho­tog­ra­pher is in much the same un­sal­vage­able state as their equip­ment. Pok­ing around the dead ten­ants’ room, we un­cover notes that re­veal not only a fas­ci­na­tion with Joy but also her vis­i­tor – a mythic fig­ure called Granny Weaver. A name’s more than enough to go on, so we hot-foot it to a nearby fast travel point and hit the books.

Cthul-who?

Back at the li­brary, we have a choice as to how we re­late our find­ings to Joy. For in­stance, when we tell her about her beloved dog’s end, we can ei­ther spare her the hor­ri­ble de­tails or choose to com­pletely ig­nore good sense and tact, paint­ing her a glo­ri­ously gory word pic­ture. She loved that dog so she’s not par­tic­u­larly happy ei­ther way, mind; this choice is more about what kind of man you want your ver­sion of Reed to be.

Joy her­self is, un­der­stand­ably, too afraid to tell us more of what she knows. Not want­ing to leave her high and dry, we prom­ise that we’ll find an­other way to help, and try to get a few more clues our­selves with the In­tel­li­gence sys­tem. Us­ing the quick ref­er­ence data­base found in the li­brary, you’ll need to know what you’re look­ing for. The more you in­ves­ti­gate, the more in­for­ma­tion you can re­search. From clues we gath­ered ear­lier, we’re able to nar­row down our search and learn how we can send Granny pack­ing.

Un­for­tu­nately, our time with the game ends be­fore we can in­ves­ti­gate Joy’s case any fur­ther, but we’ve fallen for the Sink­ing City, hook, line, and sinker. In a time when you can’t throw a rock for fear of hit­ting the slimy ten­ta­cles of no fewer than three Cthulhu games, Oak­mont ap­pears to have just a bit more in­di­vid­u­al­ity than other lo­cales we’ve vis­ited across the dark cor­ners of the Earth. We’re look­ing for­ward to tak­ing a deep dive and see­ing what else is new in Oak­mont next year.

Be­low the sur­face, strange and ter­ri­ble crea­tures dwell… but there’s plenty of hor­ror above too.

The flooded Oak­mont is an orig­i­nal set­ting draw­ing in­spi­ra­tion from the works of HP Love­craft.

Charles Winfield Reed is a for­mer soldier turned in­ves­ti­ga­tor try­ing to un­cover the mys­tery of his past and Oak­mont’s present.

You’ll need to poke around, peek at the past, and at­tempt di­a­logue with Oak­mont’s odd denizens. And some are very odd in­deed.

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