THE SINKING CITY
Tide is high for Cthulhu games – could this be your number one?
Where Cyanide’s Cthulhu mythos game (a call we answered last issue) plays it close to the page, Frogwares’ game offers another take. In its titular city, the Lovecraftian monsters and the streets are drawn closer together every day as the flood waters rise. But the city in question, Oakmont, isn’t really a stand-in for Innsmouth.
As Frogwares’ community manager Sergey Oganesyan explains in a recent developer diary, “Lovecraft was really good at exploring these really intricate philosophical concepts, like our place in the universe, fear of the unknown, and fatalism and all that. But when it comes to details and descriptions he was surprisingly vague, which actually works great for us as it gives us a lot of freedom.” Oganesyan later goes on to state that the game is not an adaptation of any of Lovecraft’s work, but rather ‘an expansion’. Familiar monsters may appear, but the story itself, while borrowing ideas, will be original. Playing as traumatised soldier Charles Winfield Reed, a man drawn to Oakmont after a supernatural event in his past, you’ll need to talk to residents, gather evidence and cross-reference clues to fully uncover this mystery.
ON THE CASE
One stepping stone on the path to the bottom of things comes in a note from a librarian named Joy. She asks you to come to her place of work but when you do, you get a sense of what she’s been through already. Between lips sewn shut (disturbing in itself), she hisses, “Her. In my apartment. Again.”
The apartment building doesn’t look like it would be anyone’s home sweet home, with broken walls and detritus strewn around. Not frightening, but unsettling. With Joy’s key in hand, her flat looks like she’s done her best to make the most of a bad spot. A melted camera on the floor is out of place but a well-used rug and dog bowl suggests a not entirely miserable life was led here… well, that’s what we think until we find the dog.
The sight of what remains of the dog is almost too much for Reed to bear. Things tip from unsettling to horrible. He gets double vision and for just a second the world around him is unrecognisable – it’s almost like his wartime trauma is happening again – but Reed returns to himself to further investigate the scene. Not too far from a bloody sewing machine, we see the intruder left a sick gift behind.
WHAT A PICTURE
Having explored the room, Reed reveals his superpower: the ability to see snippets of a selected space’s past. Slowly things click into place. A raspy old woman enters the apartment, she gets the attention of the dog, the dog is killed, and she begins to sew. Then a neighbour apparently familiar with the woman gets a picture of Joy’s visitor but the camera flash draws her attention. The neighbour is definitely someone we need to visit.
After getting no response to our knocking, clearing a cellar of cosmic horrors, and retrieving the neighbour’s key, we let ourselves in, only to discover the neighbour in much a similar condition to Joy’s poor pup – there’s that seesawing between dread and dreadful again; the game racking up the tension before a horrible release. But he leaves a clue behind, a harried note about his recent – and apparently last – photo opportunity with the raspy older woman, also known as Granny Weaver.
Back at the library, Joy is too scared (and presumably pained) to say much else about her unwanted guest. Thankfully there’s a lot we can discover on our own now we have the information in the neighbour’s note. Turning to the library shelves, we quickly discover more about the local myth of Granny Weaver and highlight another address worthy of investigation. We can’t wait to see how the plot will thicken, and our nerves be strained, from there.
“REED REVEALS HIS SUPERPOWER: HE CAN SEE SNIPPETS OF THE PAST.”
The Old Great Ones heavily influence the lives of Oakmont’s citizens. Perhaps they’ll even pay a visit.
Oakmont is a submerged open world, meaning you’ll need to travel across parts of it by boat just as frequently as you will on foot.
Above There are many horrors lurking in Oakmont… and we’re not just talking about the fleshy creatures we encountered in the demo.