Walter Jones, an eccentric billionaire, is found dead on the Maldivian island of Sagorah. There, he had built an enormous Art Deco tower that he hoped to turn into an exclusive holiday resort. His death seems like a nightly accident at first, but turns out to be a mysterious murder. Furthermore, a heavy storm is raging, almost cutting off the island from the rest of the world. At the time of Walter Jones' death, there are eight people staying in Jones' pompous hotel: his grandchildren with their spouses, his lawyer, and the tower's architect. Two native Maldivians live nearby.
This traditional point-and-click adventure game is a classical Who Dunnit. As inspector Jack Norm, you have to investigate which of the suspects might have a reason to want Walter Jones dead, talk to everybody, collect evidence or compare fingerprints. Your PPA (Personal Police Assistant), a kind of inventory/recording device, helps you during your inquiries.
Sinking Island can be played in two modes: real-time mode and adventure mode. In real-time mode it's a race against time. In adventure mode you can go through each place at your own pace.
- Sumptuous décors: from the idyllic beaches to the exaggerated proportions of this extravagant tower, discover a rich environment and great graphics.
- A heart-racing scenario: hate, resentment, treason and intrigue on a tropical island.
- A Noir novel in a video game: the game is divided into ten simple questions that you have to answer one after the other to make headway in the investigation.
- A full and accessible enquiry solving system: thanks to your personal assistant, you can confront the different suspects, compare their statements to evidence and move on in the enquiry by using your sense of deduction.
Worth checking out!
I bought Sinking Island in late 2020 more or less on a whim, without doing any research on it and without knowing what to expect. This year, I have played and enjoyed the much more well-known Syberia series, but was a little skeptical here due to the mixed reviews and the 2007 release date.
I am happy to report that I loved this game. In fact, I ended up staying up until about 4:30 AM on a Saturday night to play it, and I plowed through the entire thing from start to finish in a single sitting. I was not expecting it to get so hooked; I booted it up around 7:30 thinking "hmm, let me dip into this for an hour or so to see what this is about", and I didn't get up again until the credits had rolled.
Sinking Island is a pure detective game with a mystery that could be taken out of an Agatha Christie novel. You play as a police detective who visits a remote tropical island where an obese octogenarian billionaire businessman has been building a massive and ostentatious luxury hotel - the very same businessman whose corpse has just been discovered rotting at the bottom of a rocky seaside cliff. There are ten suspects on the island - a shifty lawyer, a young architect, the deceased's three adult grandchildren and their significant others, and two local natives, and the rest of the game is spent wandering around, asking questions, finding clues, and trying to figure out whodunit. Meanwhile, a growing monsoon rages outside, and the slowly rising water level threatens to destroy the island and everything on it.
Sinking Island uses a fairly unique system for your investigation. You do have a regular inventory, and you will run across a handful of basic inventory puzzles as you play through the game. Everything else - clues you pick up, any important testimony, any photos you take, goes into an "evidence" inventory. Your AI assistant will ask you a question, like "Who was present at the scene of the crime?", and there will be a progress bar for the question. When you collect enough evidence to fill the bar, you must select all evidence you have found that answers the question, and the investigation will proceed. When you answer all nine main questions, you will have found your culprit.
If you are unfamiliar with B. Sokal, this game's creator, it is hard to describe the lovely, lonely atmosphere that defines his games. In Sinking Island, we begin our investigation on a large island. Hotspots are sparse, and there are dozens of screens that serve no gameplay function other than to look nice and add to the atmosphere. The art is extremely memorable, both outside, with richly detailed palm trees whipping against a rainy red sky as a Gothic skyscraper of a hotel rises in the background, and inside, with dim lighting and slowly cracking walls and floors casting a pallor on the empty gilded corridors.
Sinking island isn't a perfect game, and there are some negatives. There is a lot of running back and forth and backtracking. I don't mind this too much, and I think this is partly by design, as this same trick is used in all of the Syberia games, and it does help in evoking a certain feel to the gameplay. Also, I will add, that as the story progresses and as the water level rises, the areas you have available to you will shrink considerably as your investigation centers on smaller and smaller areas.
There's a few minor technical issues; in the build I played, there was no lip sync during the interrogations. I believe there may be a fix for this on the forums, but it did not bother me. I also saw people complaining about a bug that turns off the game after one hour which has since been fixed; I did not experience that issue.
Additionally, there are a few missteps that I think might put people off their investigations. First, there is a major difficulty spike just after the first tutorial - the first major question the game asks you to tackle is one of the most complicated in the whole game. I advise sticking through that, as the game gets a lot easier once that is out of the way - except for a handful of truly obscene pixel hunts which could derail your investigation. I did 95% of the game on my own, but did dip into a walkthrough a few times to help me locate an object I had just plain missed.
Overall, however, I would advise you to consider picking this one up if you are on the fence, and giving it a shot. It frequently goes on sale at a deep discount, and it is one of the most pleasant gaming surprises I have had in quite a while.
Une enquête rare et étonnante
Sokal est célèbre pour ses bandes dessinées. Il l'est aussi pour ses jeux, à juste titre : toujours emprunts d'une ambiance fabuleuse, ils sont aussi beaux qu'ils sont originaux et profonds, offrant des aventures pleines de poésie. L'Amerzone, Syberia, Paradise, ... aucun n'échappe à son talent graphique et d'écriture. Sinking Island n'est pas en reste avec son histoire inquiétante, son cadre original, ses décors vastes et de toutes beauté. Ainsi, le joueur fait face à la mort d'un riche homme d'affaires sur une île qui affronte une terrible tempête : mener l'enquête en passant d'un village d'autochtones à une tour art-déco pour touristes fortunée ne sera pas chose aisée. Le système d'enquête avec confrontation des preuves est l'un des premiers du genre et demeure très bien réalisé. Reste à trouver et comprendre avant que la tempête ne se déchaîne et entraîne un game-over ... Surtout que toutes les personnes présentes sur l'île ont en réalité tout pour être l'auteur du crime. Un véritable Agatha Christie à temps limité !