|System: PC||Review Rating Legend|
|Dev: White Birds Prod.||1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid||4.0 - 4.4 = Great|
|Pub: Microids / Encore Soft.||2.0 - 2.4 = Poor||4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy|
|Release: Aug. 25, 2008||2.5 - 2.9 = Average||5.0 = The Best|
|Players: 1||3.0 - 3.4 = Fair|
|ESRB Rating: Teen||3.5 - 3.9 = Good|
Standard puzzle work is noticeably light here, which is fairly unusual for a point-and-click adventure game. In the case of Sinking Island, breaking away from the norm yields ho-hum results. Much of the hotspot oriented, item-based puzzles typically associated with the genre - there are still a few here - have been dropped in favor of something called the Personal Police Assistant (PPA). Opening this retro device lets you browse through suspect files, compare and analyze clues, and put together various sets of data to progress in the adventure.
The game is divided into a series of "mandates" each represented by a question and a puzzle piece. As you gather evidence, you'll be able to slowly piece the necessary ingredients together to solve each mandate and advance the story. It's a cool concept that unfortunately doesn't work as well as intended. The main problem is some of the inquiries require a voluminous amount of information to solve. This is less of an issue at first, but it escalates as things become more complex. Picking these crucial bits out of the huge stockpile in the precise combination becomes more of a chore than anything else.
The game's depressing thematic graphical style, mixed with dramatic music and sound effects, actually works well to lay out the gloomy atmosphere on the island and generate a sense of impending disaster. The environments are quite large and detailed. The only downside is you'll spend a lot of time slowly "running" across one large area after another. With all the traveling involved, the developers could have mercifully included a feature to skip the long running sequences. The architecture of the hotel and the classy, retro NYC-inspired interior design is definitely a nice touch.
While they're sometimes amusing, character interactions generally leave much to be desired. Visually, some characters are pleasantly detailed; others are not. Their movements during conversation are quite animated, but this is an attempt to make up for the fact everyone appears to speak telepathically. There are no mouth movements in the game whatsoever. This is a big disappointment. It's incredibly distracting and hard to overlook. Despite this oversight, the voice work is generally solid, with a few exceptions.
Though the gameplay gets extremely repetitive and the excitement factor is mediocre at best, Sinking Island will likely hold the attention of adventure mystery fans. The game does require some good detective work, which can be quite fun at times, if you're willing to look beyond the adventure's issues.
CCC Staff Contributor