Sinking Island  
by Danyboy
October 27, 2008

 

The Story

An eccentric billionaire named Walter Jones has had an enormous tower built on a heavenly atoll. The tower is more than 200 meters high and meant to be a luxury hotel for the jet set. This architectural madness is built entirely in the "art deco" style, which Jones particularly appreciates.

Before its official opening, ten people are reunited on the island, each one brought by different reasons and motives. It is at this moment that Walter Jones is found dead, lying next to his wheelchair.

An investigator, a specialist in complex cases, is sent to the scene. He will have to investigate the crime and find the guilty party. All ten people have a motive for wanting the death of the construction magnate, but only one is guilty.

During the 3 days that the investigation lasts, the tower, too heavy for its coral foundation, will slowly but surely sink into the ocean. With it, will go Walter Jones and the precious clues...



Introduction

In Sinking Island you play the role of Jack Norm, and you will have three days to conclude your investigation before the island sinks for good. You will need to gather evidence, find clues, and interrogate the suspects. Jack is called by a friend who is unable to go to the island to work the case. It appears to be a simple accident, but soon Jack will learn that the accident is really a murder investigation. What was supposed to be a short and easy case will be far more complicated than he expected.

The opening scene with Jack arriving by helicopter on the island is quite an interesting cutscene. The sound effects are great, and the the scenery is very beautiful. A few minutes after his arrival, he is already jumping right into his investigation.

I should note that the language is somewhat mature. There is nothing too explicit or over the edge, but it should be mentioned.

 

Gameplay

Sinking Island is a third person point and click adventure game. After starting the game, an empty frame appears. You will need to click on the Start button in the bottom right side of the screen, then a start-up menu will appear with Continue, Create, Load and Delete a Profile. On the bottom left of the screen is either the Back, Menu, or Quit buttons. In the main menu you can resume, start a new game, load a game, select Options (with subtitles, video options, and sound controls), see the credits, and view some of the cinematics. You can access the main menu from within the game by pressing Esc key .

When you start a new game, you will have to select the game mode you want to play in. The choices are a regular adventure game or a race against time where you will need to complete your investigation before time runs out. I chose the regular adventure game mode.

After starting the game, you will see, on the top right side of the screen, a brown notebook separated into two sections. On the right side you have the Personal Police Assistant (PPA), and on the left side you can access the inventory. You need to right click to access the inventory or click on the left of the PPA. Sometimes Jack needs to stop what he is doing to eat as the poor guy gets hungry. He then goes into the dining room, and he eats what looks like a sandwich. A funny thing happened to me once. When Jack was in the dining room, he said it was time to eat some soup, but he was eating another sandwich.

One thing that bothered me was when it is time to go from one place to another, you needed to walk there. There is no map allowing you to to select where to go, and sometimes the walk is a very long one.

Character database:

In the Personal Police Assistant, you will find the character database, a clue section, and your progression in the game. As long as you progress in the game, the character database will get bigger, and you will collect more and more information about each character.

Clue database:

In the clue section, you will find material evidence, some of the documents you have collected, pictures, and the statements made by each person you interviewed.

On the top left side of the screen, you can see the actual assignment that was given to you and whether it is resolved as you find enough information about each assignment. You can see your progression by looking at the progression bar just below your assignment. When the bar is completed, it is because you have gathered all the information you need to conclude that particular assignment.

On this same page on the bottom right is a half white and half black head. If you click on it, you can make comparisons between objects, documents or pictures. Items are separated into two columns; you select one in each column to compare them.

Progression database:

There is also a Progression section where you can see how your investigation is going by looking at a jigsaw puzzle. The pieces change color when you are done with an assignment. You can tell how many assignments you have to investigate by seeing how many pieces of the jigsaw puzzle there are.

 

Graphics

Like all of the Benoit Sokal games, the graphics are fantastic. You can see the wind blowing in the pine trees, waves breaking on the shore, lightning flashing, and rain falling from the sky. The colors and scenery are beautiful, and most of the objects in our surroundings are very detailed.

 

Puzzles

Almost all of the puzzles are inventory based or solved by connecting objects, documents, or pictures in the Personal Police Assistant. It's too bad that we don't have any of the legendary Sokal mechanical puzzles or some of his other mind draining puzzle challenges.

 

Interesting facts about the game

Playeable without the CD after installation.

The game is not linear.

There is some auto saving during the game, and the save slots are unlimited.

 

Dialogue and Sound

Interrogating suspects will be the main task of your investigation; most of the time you will ask the different characters the same questions and will get similar answers from them. But it is when there are differences that their answers will take on more importance. Jack Norm's voice was well chosen, and the other voice actors also did a great job with their characters.

The music is quite dramatic and fits well with the atmosphere of disaster that awaits you in every corner. As in every Sokal game, the sound effects are outstanding. Realistic thunder, wind blowing, waves exploding on the shore, and people talking in the background all contribute to the feeling of impending disaster.

 

Bugs and/or patches

I didn't encounter any bugs, but the images flickered ocassionally.

 

Computer specifications

System Requirements:

Minimal:

OS: Windows® XP Home Pro SP2 /Vista
CPU: Pentium III 1.5 GHz or higher (Pentium IV 2.2 GHz or equivalent recommended)
RAM: 512 MB (1 GB RAM recommended)
3 GB free hard disk space
88 X 600 16-bit color display
Video: 3D Video Card with 64 MB of video RAM (3D Video Card with 256 MB of video RAM recommended) Onboard, DirectX® 9.0c Compatible (ARI Radeon 9600 series or Nvidia GeForce 6 series recommended)
Sound: DirectX® 9.0c Compatible 16-bit sound card
DVD-ROM: 16x
Input: Keyboard, Mouse and Speakers

My computer specifications:

OS: Windows Vista SP1
RAM: 2 X 288Go
Processor: Intel (R) Core (TM) 2 Duo 3.00 Go
Video Card: NVIDIA GeForce 8500 GT
Sound: Onboard Sound Controller
Disk space: 1st 221Go and 2nd 266 Go
DirectX 10.0

 

Closing statement

Even with a few downsides, this game was enjoyable. It is a real mystery to solve with a great story, lots of clues, documents, images, and objects to pick up and connect so that each assignment can be resolved. The gorgeous graphics and sound effects help keep you on your mission to find out which of the mysterious characters has committed this murder. While each one has a reason to kill Walter Jones, only one has the killer instinct to carry out the crime.

The end sequence is a typical Sokal ending with a beautiful video showing Jack Norm connecting all of the dots and explaining his progression until he reaches his conclusion which is delivered to the murderer on a silver platter. No one among the suspects seems very surprised with the conclusion.

Will we see another Jack Norm investigation? I do hope so, but I also hope a few improvements will be made to the game before the next investigation takes place.

Official Websites:

White Birds Productions

Microids


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