#17: Cthulhu Visits A Casino?

What games are you hitting up this weekend? If you’ve picked up a copy of The Sinking City, we’ve got a handy little guide to help ease your pain into the Cthulhu mythos that lies within. We also blast into the past to look at Casino Inc, an early 2000’s casino management sim from Hothouse Creations.

Getting Started Guide

The Sinking City

The Sinking City is the latest detective game from the team behind the Sherlock Holmes series of adventure games, and it’s an open-world title inspired by the Cthulhu mythos of HP Lovecraft. It also needs to explain more than it does, so we’re here to help you get going. Let’s get started in The Sinking City!

Don’t be afraid to flee rather than fight!

Despite being a detective game, there is combat in The Sinking City, although it’s admittedly not that great. While you do get XP for killing monsters, you always have to remember that bullets aren’t plentiful, and neither is crafting materials to make more. Use all your shotgun shells on one of the big lumbering creatures and you’ll be trying to get back to maximum for the rest of the game. If they’re in your way you can certainly kill them, but don’t be ashamed if you’d prefer to either sneak past or even run away! This is not a shooting game, and killing monsters is not your goal.

Search everywhere for clues!

The good news about the investigations in the game is that they’re pretty much confined to a single area or building – you won’t be asked to track a case into the street or anything, and if you’re on Normal difficulty you’ll be told when you’ve collected all key information in a place. It can still be hard finding everything you need though! Search everywhere. Search on the floor, on shelves, on other objects, everywhere. And make sure to turn on your Mind Palace power – some clues are hidden behind swirling symbols, and you’ll have to focus your power and stare at them until they become revealed!

Watch your sanity as well as your health!

With all the monsters, gangsters, and deranged cultists trying to kill you, it can be easy to forget that you have two health bars – and two types of special kit. Red is for physical health, but blue is your sanity bar. Certain encounters – like finding magically hidden locations, seeing twisted monsters, dead bodies, or giant freaking underwater creatures – will knock or drain your sanity. It’ll replenish, but the lower it is you’ll feel different effects. First your view will be distorted, then you’ll start to see fake monsters or item boxes, then those fake monsters will actually attack you, then finally the whole screen will go black and white with limited vision. Don’t let it get that far – use a mental health kit!

Fast Travel is the phonebooths!

The Sinking City is set in a large open-world map, and other than the occasional motorboat (which isn’t that much better than walking) you’ll be exploring most of it on foot. Fortunately, as that would get boring very fast (Oakmont is pretty big you know) there is a Fast Travel system available. It’s done with the Phonebooths scattered around the map at key points, and they’re marked with a star. If you ever see a star on your compass (top of the screen) head toward it, and the Fast Travel point will unlock as you get close. To use them, interact with the map on the phonebooth, and hold the use button on the star point you want to go to. Easy!

Just avoid enemies while diving!

At certain points in the game (referred to by our reviewer as ‘the worst moments”) you’ll be jammed into a slow-moving diving suit and forced to investigate the murky waters around Oakmont. You don’t have access to any of your weapons, and all you get is a Flare Gun and Harpoon Gun – both of which are utterly useless against underwater enemies. Flares can distract an enemy (if they haven’t seen you), and Harpoons can stun them – they can’t kill them. Don’t bother with the flares – shoot those eels and run for it!

Remember to buy new Skills!

This is the fact that took us an embarrassingly long time to notice – The Sinking City has character upgrades. The Skills screen is mentioned in a tutorial at some point, but at the start of the game you get skill points so sparingly it’s easy to forget about it! Make sure you go to the Skills screen and get some upgrades! Crafting bonuses, accuracy assists, being able to carry more ammo or items, extra health, no fall damage, extra XP or items earned from quests… all useful improvements – and they all just cost 1 skill point each. Don’t sit on those skill points, get those upgrades!

Now get out there and solve some murders! Hopefully not your own…

Blast From The Past

The house always wins – usually – in Casino Inc.

It’s the early 2000s and you’ve got a sleazy, neon-lit gambling flop house to run in Casino Inc. There are many kinds of business management sims out there, but every once in a while there’s a diamond among the rough. Hothouse Creations’ take on the vice of slot machines, cards, booze and efficient management was one such gleaming jewel.

The premise is pretty simple: you’ve got a casino to run in a city with rivals nipping at your heels. They want those walking bags of money called tourists getting the shakedown in their joint – not yours. You might initially think it’s just all about floor designs with enough slots, card tables and bars. Of course there is staff to hire to keep people playing nice and to catch any cheats as well.

Load the dice, count the cards, brass the knuckles

The reason Casino Inc. shines brighter than most business tycoons is because Hothouse decided to take some inspiration from their previous franchise of Gangsters. You see there’s a whole other strategy element going on under the surface and it’s up to you to use these less-than-ethical methods to keep on top and the competition at bay, or outright broke.

Cheaters never prosper – not the ones caught on my casino floor – but my cheaters doing the rounds at my rivals’ card tables? They’re making serious bank, and now it’s just a matter of when to get them out of there and back home to collect the winnings. It’s not a game that takes itself seriously, as even recruiting a cheater happens with a knuckle-sandwiched interrogation in the basement. Sorry granny, but we’ve got some ‘questions’ for you.

Keep an eye out for any Clooney-looking types

Of course you could always opt for outright sabotage and get all the bars at your rivals casino spiked. This will, quite hilariously, lead to a lot of guests bumbling around and harassing staff or starting fights. Staff morale is a major factor and guests care for cleanliness so you can imagine how… messy things can get. Of course this can also be used against you! Still, there’s always the ‘nuclear option’ of hiring a hitman to take out a target. This’ll almost certainly get the hitman killed too, but it will shut the floor down where the hit took place for a time.

It managed to strike a pretty great balance between your more traditional business tycoon elements of running a successful enterprise and keeping things from going stale with the wild card of cheaters, hitmen and saboteurs. If things are running fine at home then it’s time to harass the competition, but wait there’s been a shooting on your poker table floor! You’ll have to do without those sweet high rollers for now. In revenge, I’ll spike the drinks on their cinema floor!

Where to get Casino Inc. today

Fortunately lady luck is still with Casino Inc. because it’s readily available for PC. The community even came together to help Casino Inc. keep running after the Windows 10 Anniversary Update appeared to have broken it, and the fix was included as part of the official release!

Right now in fact it’s over 50 percent off on Steam. Why not give the dice a roll?

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