The Sinking City

Release date: June 27, 2019
Platforms: Microsoft Windows, Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, Xbox One

The Sinking City Guide: Useful Tips to Save Your Sanity in Oakmont

In this guide, we look at gameplay basics, game world and exploration, items and crafting, combat and weapons, and more

The Sinking City is a detective adventure horror game which tells a story about a private detective Charles Reed. Suffering from nightmares and hallucinations, he accepts the invitation of Johannes van den Berg who asks to deal with madness at Oakmont island. It turns out that many residents of the island also suffer from similar visions after the flood.

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20 things you should know before starting the game

Let’s start with the most important things:

  1. The game has a fast travel system. Find telephone booths marked by a compass icon. Each district has a minimum of three such booths.
  2. You won’t have to pay for fast travel.
  3. The game does not have a day/night cycle. The hero does not need to sleep but you’ll have to periodically return to your hotel to read various updates about your previous investigations.
  4. You can move across the flooded streets using a boat. There is an unlimited number of boats in the game, and they appear at the same places even if you have moved them.
  5. Interactive entrances and breaches in the walls can be found in the flooded streets.
  6. Any interactive door or container with resources is marked with a #. It is visible in the ordinary mode but is best highlighted when the Mind’s Eye is activated.
  7. The Mind’s Eye allows you to find secret symbols that dispel magic walls or turn some things into quest items.
  8. Each clue in the journal may have an icon. The absence of this icon means that the clue is useless for advancing your investigation.
  9. The compass symbol indicates that the clue leads you to the place that must be investigated.
  10. The book symbol indicates that the information about this clue should be searched in the archive of the hospital, police station, newspaper, library or city hall.
  11. You may also see symbols of ‘’three dots’’ or ‘’gears’’. The first one indicates that you need to talk with someone while the second one tells you to use the previously found object.
  12. If all clues lack any symbols, it means that you must find key evidence in some of the places or use the Mind Palace.
  13. All research sites are indicated by the magnifying glass icon. The color of this glass indicates different stages of your progress. Gray – the necessary evidence was not found, yellow – you have found all the key evidence, green – you have found all evidence and earned experience points.
  14. Crafting is available right from the start. Open the game menu and select the Inventory tab. Press Space on those items that you would like to craft. Below, you’ll see a list of required ingredients. If any of these ingredients is red, you cannot craft the item.
  15. The crafting ingredients are hidden in boxes, chests, suitcases and trash cans. Components do not fall out of the enemies or ordinary people.
  16. Experience points are awarded for killing any mobs but not people.
  17. Shoot the yellow outgrowths of the monster to deal maximum damage.
  18. The hero does not have stamina scale, so you can run nonstop. You can also use Shift to speed up the boat.
  19. Experience points are provided for completing quests, finding telephone booths and interesting places, killing enemies.
  20. Try not to engage in battle if it is not necessary. Ammo is limited in the game. However, you can easily find components to craft it.

The game world

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Once you have arrived at the island, you can use the map of Oakmont which consists of several districts. All of them are available to you immediately from the start, right after you have completed the first storyline case.

The town is full of people but most of them are neutral towards Reed and you cannot interact with them. Even in random scenes of robbery or assault, there is no sense to help anyone: having killed the robber, you will lose ammo (in the best case) and get nothing in return.

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However, those who have something to tell you will have a question mark symbol

The most important objects are marked on the map. You will find others as you progress through the game. The magnifying glass icon shows the crime scene, location of the potential murderer/victim, and so on. The gray icon indicates that you haven’t found even the key evidence. If the icon is yellow, Charles has found all the key evidence that is sufficient enough to move further along the storyline. However, you can continue exploring the place and find more clues until you see ‘’All evidence collected’’. In this case, the magnifying glass icon will turn green, and you’ll get additional experience points. All ‘’storyline’’ locations disappear after the completion of the case. Sometimes, a building becomes inaccessible after you have left it although the quest is not finished yet.

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Some streets of the town are flooded but you can travel by boat. In some cases, a pier may be located right in the middle of the flooded street – it leads to a breach in the wall which leads to a location with loot.

When moving around the game world, you can use acceleration by holding the left Shift. Charles does not have stamina scale, so he can run without getting tired. If you hold Shift when in the boat, it will speed up a little.

Mind’s Eye

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The Mind’s Eye is a special skill of Charles Reed which allows him to find a rift into the past and see hidden signs across Oakmont. All doors, boxes, suitcases or thrash containers that can be opened by Charles have the same symbol — #. There are also other symbols which are usually depicted on fences or doors – they indicate areas with a big number of enemies.

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In addition, the Mind’s Eye is a very important function during the walkthrough. It allows you to find symbols on the walls and objects. When you examine them, walls disappear while objects turn into important items.

Crafting system

The main character of The Sinking City finds crafting materials for practically all consumables – first aid kits, antipsychotics, ammo, throwing objects or traps. There’ll be plenty of loot in the game, so craft basic necessities if you see that the inventory is full when searching another suitcase.

Ideally, you should keep all consumables at one unit less than you can as there’s always a chance to craft the last first aid kit and then find one in the next room – that will be a major disappointment.

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For crafting, open the inventory and press Esc, then go to the Inventory tab. There, you’ll find all items that can be crafted and used. There’s a system of limitations: 12 rounds for the revolver, three first aid kits, three sanity kits, three foot traps, and so on. For some things, the limits may be increased by using perks.

Traps are the most useless items. They take years to install, and you’ll also have to lure the enemy into a certain place. We do not recommend spending crafting materials to get them.

Any loot can be found exclusively inside containers (all storage) marked by the # symbol. You won’t get consumable items or crafting ingredients when killing people or monsters.

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Any container with loot in the game is renewable. If you have collected all the loot, use fast travel or visit another place, get back and see that the box is full again. The same applies to monsters: you cannot clear the area full of these creatures once and for all.


The best weapons in the game are shotgun, revolver and submachine gun. However, the latter quickly consumes ammo while crafting expenses are material. The battle rifle is a good weapon, but it needs to be reloaded after each shot. As for the ordinary pistol, it deals too little damage.

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As for items, you’ll need hand grenades and firebombs (in addition to first aid kits and antipsychotics). Explosive throwing weapons will allow you to kill certain bosses like Usha or the Hidden Daughter.

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When using first aid kits and sanity kits, act the same way as with other objects and weapons: hold RMB, then hold LMB for three-four seconds until you see the effect.


The protagonist may purchase skills. Skill points (or ‘’knowledge points’’) are awarded for 1000 experience points. Later in the game, this number turns into 1500 experience points, but about first fifteen skill points will be obtained via this scheme – every 1000 experience points.

Skills are divided into three categories. Interestingly, none of the skills simplify investigations. You will increase the supply of first aid kits, strengthen your weapons, expand the inventory capacity, spend less money on crafting, and so on, but this only relatively simplifies your task.

How to get experience points in The Sinking City

  • kill monsters (however, if your enemy is a human, even if you need to do it according to the storyline, you won’t get any experience points);
  • find new telephone booths or notable places (like the theater or crematorium);
  • search key evidence at the crime scene;
  • search all evidence;
  • complete side and storyline quests.

Fast travel system

For fast travel, you can use telephone booths which are scattered in all Oakmont districts. There are at least three such booths in any district. In most cases, you’ll be able to find four booths which are placed approximately in the same pattern – in the northern, southern, western or eastern parts of the district.

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Go to the telephone booth, interact with it and choose another one which is marked by the compass icon on the map. You won’t have to pay for fast travel.

Health and sanity

There are two scales in the lower left corner of the screen one. The red one indicates the supply of health while the blue one is for clarity of your mind. Obviously, Charles dies when the red scale comes to naught. However, it will later be possible to unlock a perk that allows you to restore health points.

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As for the blue scale, the longer you fight monsters, the faster it decreases. You will see the same effect if you kill innocent people on the streets. In turn, detective’s hallucinations will appear on the screen – they slightly complicate the walkthrough. You can go to a safe place and wait when the blue scale is restored or use the antipsychotics (similar to first aid kit). If the blue scale drops to zero, a black monster may appear – you’d be better off running away from this creature. Decreasing sanity to zero too often can result in Reed’s death.

Combat system

You’ll fight a lot in the game. If you wish to unlock all skills, you’ll also have to frequently visit dangerous zones which are full of monsters (a ‘’red scull’’ icon on the map). Yes, you’ll spend plenty of ammo, but these locations are typically full of loot which allows you to craft everything you have invested in monster extermination. Thus, it’s a great way to quickly farm experience.

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Infested area sign

In close combat, Charles uses a shovel (activated by E key). In ranged battles, he uses various firearms. A pistol is available by default. Later, you’ll get access to revolver, shotgun, rifle and submachine gun. All these weapons are unlocked as you move along the storyline.

Be sure to upgrade skills that allow you to strengthen a melee weapon and two or three firearms. Ideally, you should also upgrade skills that increase the number of experience points that you earn, and then go to clear dangerous regions.

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Note that jumping monsters (not centipedes) and huge creatures have glowing yellow parts. These are vulnerable points – if you shoot at them, you’ll deal material damage. Try to aim at the yellow dots to save ammo.

Storyline and side quests

When completing storyline tasks, you’ll use the Mind’s Palace. Only in certain cases an action can be considered mandatory as it allows you to find a clue for the journal or to get further in your investigation.

A few words about the casebook. It contains information about all current and completed cases. Choose the case and see clues’ icons in the center. Any clue without identification marks (in the upper corner) was either applied or is necessary for you to make an informed decision. However, you should be interested in the clues with small symbols:

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  • compass – you should search some place on the map (the clue contains the address);
  • book – you must visit one of the archives of the municipal institutions of the town and search according to the conditions set in the text of the clue (the archives are located in the hospital, police station, town hall, library, and local newspaper;
  • speech bubble with three dots – you must discuss the evidence with someone;
  • gear – this evidence (typically, it’s an item) must be applied to something – for example, open a door with a key.

If there is no evidence with icons in the journal and you have examined all interesting places on the map (all ‘’magnifying glasses’’ are at least yellow), you should look into the Mind Palace and combine the corresponding evidence, leading to new clues which are used to form a conclusion in the case.

Regardless of what you choose (you may choose nothing at all), you’ll ultimately have to make a decision from the ones that are available even if it is contrary to the conclusion in the Mind Palace. Thus, you are interested in finding new evidence that is guaranteed to have some icon.

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The side tasks are provided by characters who are located in some important places that are marked on the map or near telephone booths. Also, you can get additional quests when reading a diary lying on the reception desk, and so on.

The game has a very useful function – you can make marks on the map. Select the necessary place from the evidence, press Space and choose from several markers the one that corresponds to this place. It allows you to easily track tasks and navigate the map. In certain side tasks, you’ll have to visit many places, so start by marking them on the map and then create an optimal route.

Some interesting places can be marked with any other common marker (of red color), for example, with a question mark.

Robert Summers