#13: Delivering our verdict on The Sinking City…

In this issue of DailyBits, we look at the history of Cthulhu-inspired horror games, deliver our verdict on The Sinking City and bring fresh news about Pokémon Masters.

Top Story

The Commodore 64 Is Back!

Children of the 1980s will likely remember the Commodore 64, a popular 8-bit home computer that dominated the market for over a decade. Well, this classic system will relaunch this winter in an updated package as THEC64.

Developed by Retro Games Ltd., THEC64 is a fully-licensed remake, featuring a full-size keyboard, an updated micro switch classic joystick and four USB ports. The system can connect to any modern TV via HDMI and will include a variety of C64 and VIC20 games like Boulder Dash, Paradroid, Hover Bovver, Attack of the Mutant Camels and Gridrunner – 64 preinstalled games in total. If you already happen to own a stack of ROMs, you’ll be able to load them onto the console via USB drive, giving you the freedom to play whatever classic you can get your hands on.

Retro Reimagined, THEC64 will feature 64 preinstalled titles

THEC64 will feature three modes offering different experiences. You’ll be able to boot into the original C64 BASIC mode, the VIC20 BASIC mode or the Game Carousel, which will give you the option to play the preinstalled games at either 50 or 60Hz at 720p. Optional CRT filters and screen modes will also help you achieve that retro vibe.

THEC64 will be available in stores from December 5th with an RRP of £109.99/€119.99. Pre Orders have already opened and the console will be available at different stores across Europe. Following the NES, SNES and PlayStation Classic mini consoles that have already released, THEC64 looks as though it’ll be a nice addition to fans’ collections.

Time For A Quick Daily Quiz?

What was developer Frogwares’ first Cthulhu-inspired game?

  • The Lurking Horror
  • Sherlock Holmes: The Awakened
  • Eternal Darkness
  • The Testament of Sherlock Holmes

The answer will be revealed at the end of this issue!

News Bits

Catan VR Launches On PSVR

After releasing on Nintendo Switch just last week, Catan is about to settle on PSVR. The VR version of the popular tabletop classic offers a fresh, modern twist on the old-school routine of sitting around a table playing a board game, placing them in a virtual reality setting where they sit around a table… uh, playing a board game.

Players can compete online against opponents from around the world, or play against Catan personalities in the single player mode. Catan VR also supports cross-play with all major VR platforms, so you shouldn’t have any trouble joining your friends for a few games.

CATAN VR launches today on PlayStation VR.

Run-And-Gun Platformer Blazing Chrome Gets A Release Date!

Developer JoyMasher has released a new trailer and confirmed the release date for their upcoming side-scrolling platformer Blazing Chrome. Heavily inspired by old favourites like Contra and Metal Slug, this high-octane pixel art shooter takes place in a time where machines have taken over, almost driving humans to total extinction.

As part of a small rebel group, players attempt to defeat the robots and save humankind. Sporting local co-op play and epic boss battles, Blazing Chrome will offer five challenging post-apocalyptic environments teeming with enemies.

Blazing Chrome is out on July 11th for PC, Xbox One, PlayStation 4 and Nintendo Switch.

Daily Fact

The Lovecraft-inspired Alone in the Dark was the birth of the survival horror

This week sees the release of The Sinking City, an open-world survival horror detective game inspired by the Cthulhu mythos of HP Lovecraft, from the creators of the recent Sherlock Holmes games. But it’s not just The Sinking City that owes a debt to Lovecraft – the entire survival horror genre does.

The similarly-inspired Alone in the Dark, which arrived on PC in 1992, was the equivalent of Wolfenstein 3D or Dune 2 – the progenitor that started the whole thing, even if more-polished later games would prove more popular. In this case, 1996’s Resident Evil would be analogous to Doom or Command & Conquer – the later, better game that took everything established by Alone in the Dark and improved it.
Alone in the Dark was proudly inspired by the Cthulhu mythos – in fact it said so right on the box! It had the combat, fixed-camera perspective, puzzles, zombies, a creepy mansion, a choice between male and female characters – and it even featured Cthulhu.

The later sequels wouldn’t live up to the power of the original Alone in the Dark, with the series sinking lower and lower until it reached its nadir with the online-only and utterly awful Alone in the Dark: Illumination in 2015. Hopefully The Sinking City will carry the torch for Cthulhu-inspired survival horror adventures in 2019!

Daily Giveaway

Irony Curtain: From Matryoshka with Love

Time for another giveaway from your pals at Dailybits! Are you a fan of funny point-and-click adventures like Monkey Island, Sam & Max, and the Deponia series? Well, there’s a new one out now – comedy spy thriller Irony Curtain: From Matryoshka with Love – and we’ve got a Steam code to give out every day this week to one lucky winner on our active reader list!

“Take a look behind Irony Curtain in this satirical point-and-click inspired by the best works of LucasArts and Daedalic Entertainment! Experience the totalitarian Matryoshka through the eyes of Evan – a low-ranking, goofy journalist involuntarily pulled right into the middle of an espionage stand-off between two powers. Jump into the wacky spy adventure, uncover secrets of the bizarre communist country (and the powerful capitalist empire!), witness a story full of unpredictable twists and turns, and discover the true agenda of the mysterious Supreme Leader!”

Daily News

Automachef Bringing A Tasty Demo to PC & A Nintendo Switch Release

Arriving much earlier than anticipated, Automachef is now scheduled to release on July 23rd. Originally scheduled for Q3 2019, the indie culinary puzzler from Hermes Interactive and Team17 will have you designing kitchens and programming appliances in order to build an automatic restaurant.

Featuring three modes, Automachef will test players’ resource management skills with culinary conundrums involving fire, food shortages and more. The Campaign and Contracts modes will provide you with a bit of structure, whereas the Test Site sandbox mode will give you free rein to experiment. Once you’ve achieved the perfect production line, you can always save your blueprints and reuse them in your future kitchen designs.

Are your kitchen designs straight fire?

If you’re looking for a new title to pick up and play on the Nintendo Switch, and you enjoy the stresses of resource management, Automachef may be a good shout. PC Players will also be happy to hear that Hermes Interactive has already confirmed mod support via the Steam Workshop.

Sounds pretty DELICIOUS, right? Well, you don’t have to wait long to play the game as Team17 are releasing a demo for Automachef today on Steam.
The demo will give you a taste of the game, featuring two tutorial levels alongside three missions from the game’s campaign to test your newly learned skills. This demo should give you enough of a free sample to know whether or not the game is for you. You can also check out the new trailer right here.

Tactical Adventures Announce Their New 3D RPG

Founded just last summer, Tactical Adventures is a new studio focusing on Tactical RPGs. Today they announced their first title, Solasta: Crown of the Magister – which will be releasing on Steam – and dropped an announcement trailer to show off their work.

Players create parties of four characters, which can span a range of races, classes, traits and backgrounds. In true tabletop fashion, the game depends on four complementary heroes working together, rather than one character and a party of followers.

In Solasta’s dev diary, Gameplay Director, Xavier Penin, also outlined what makes Solasta different: “Our first pillar is verticality. Solasta is a three-dimensional world, rather than a series of flat maps. When exploring locations, you’ll be able to climb up walls, fly, teleport, crawl through tunnels… This brings a whole new dimension to battles.”

Teamwork is the cornerstone for success

Promising fully 3D battlegrounds, the game will offer more than just standard attacks when interacting with enemies. Players will be able to shove enemies into chasms, topple walls and columns onto them and even escape down narrow passages to stop them pursuing the party. Light will also play an important role in Solasta. “Light will not only help you see what’s around you, but will become a weapon against the creatures of the dark.”

The minds behind Solasta: Crown of the Magister are a modest team of 15-20 people, featuring veteran game developers and experienced tabletop players. Tactical Adventures’ website states the developers want to create a game that incorporates their favourite parts of the Baldur’s Gate and XCom series. The team’s dev diary also announced that Solasta will be hitting Kickstarter as soon as the team is ready.

Game Spotlight

The Sinking City is a fun open-world Cthulhu detective game that didn’t need an open-world

(Frogwares/Bigben Interactive – PC/Xbox One/PS4/Nintendo Switch)

It’s very difficult to make an open-world game, which is why we’re always wary when a developer who’s never done one before decides to go for it. CD Projekt RED succeeded with The Witcher 3, but even experienced open-world studios can screw it up – like Saints Row creators Volition with Agents of Mayhem. It’s not enough to build a world – you had better invent lots of interesting things to do in it, too.

The Sinking City has a few issues, but is generally a fun and compelling detective game steeped in HP Lovecraft’s Cthulhu mythos. Unfortunately, there was no reason for it to be an open world. While Oakmont is grisly and atmospheric, there’s pretty much nothing to do there outside of prescribed locations. Consequently, half the game is spent running between these locations, and it’s just tedious. There needs to be random events or some interesting NPCs to talk to and get information from, otherwise… why bother? The game would be a lot more enjoyable limited to specific locations you warp between, rather than forcing you to traverse an empty open world.

Holmes in the Dark

Which is sad, because game is a lot of fun when it allows you to play detective and the time spent investigating is by far most memorable part of The Sinking City. Nothing is handed to you on a plate – you have to figure it out all by yourself. Most times you’re told “they live on the corner of this and that street, over-there-ish to the east”, and then you’ll have whip out your map and discover the location by yourself. Sometimes you’ll only get a vague description, or information about an arrested or injured person – in which case you’ll have to go to the police station or hospital to check their records.

When you get there, you’ll be scanning for clues, making deductions, and employ protagonist Charles Reed’s psychic abilities to reconstruct crime scenes or find hidden clues. This is undoubtedly the best part of the game and it’s a lot of fun doing the detective work, especially when otherworldly things start appearing. We just wish there was a a bit more conversation in your detective work, or some more involved dialogue options like opportunities to threaten or persuade your interlocutors. It gets a bit easy after a while, but at least there are a lot of side missions to keep you occupied.

The story is pretty cool, and involves dangerous cults, betrayals, class divides, racism, xenophobia, nightmares from below, and more. We wish there was more of an impact on the world around you (another strike against the open-world), but the story draws you in and keeps you on your toes. The worst part about the story is Charles Reed himself, who’s a grumpy void of boringness. Could we please have a protagonist with some emotion next time?

Call of Copyrighting

Aside from the open-world, the worst part about The Sinking City is the shooting. Yes, there’s gun combat, and it’s a bit rubbish: Bullets have no sense of impact, aiming feels imprecise, and enemies aren’t particularly fun to fight either. The game tries to create some tension by insisting that ammunition is scarce, but we were generally fully stocked – and had plenty of crafting materials to make more. Why do Cthulhu games always have boring gunplay?

While it has a few significant flaws, The Sinking City is a fun detective game based around the Cthulhu mythos – and it’s a lot more enjoyable than that “official” Call of Cthulhu game that came out last year. If you want a spiritual successor to Alone in the Dark and can stand a bit of tedious wandering and lacklustre shooting, The Sinking City’s well worth picking up.

News Bits

Sunny Times Ahead On The Nintendo Switch

Wired Productions and developer Storm in a Teacup announced today that their first-person horror game, Close to the Sun is coming to Nintendo Switch. While no date has been announced, the developer stated that it will arrive some time in 2019. Xbox One and PlayStation 4 versions of the game are also due to release later on in 2019.

To get an idea of what the game will look like on the Nintendo Switch, you can check out the trailer here.

Pokémon Masters premieres with an eight-minute video on Friday

Nintendo is keeping up their mobile endeavours with Pokémon Masters, their latest iOS and Android game. Pokémon Masters offers a new, on-the-go Pokémon battling experience, and developer DeNA are building the game around famous Pokémon Trainers from the series’ long history.

If this sounds exciting, you should tune in to The Pokémon Company’s upcoming eight-minute video on June 27th at 23:00 JST on YouTube for more information.

Quiz Answer - Did You Get It Right?

When was the first Call of Cthulhu game released?

Answer: Sherlock Holmes: The Awakened!

Sherlock Holmes: The Awakened was released in 2007 to considerable acclaim, mostly thanks to the inspired decision to pair London’s greatest detective with the Cthulhu mythos. It wasn’t the first Sherlock Holmes game from Frogwares, but it was the first full 3D game (the previous titles featured static, pre-rendered backgrounds). It was also the first to put Holmes and Watson against a supernatural foe.

The Lurking Horror was one of the first videogames with a direct inspiration from Lovecraft, a text adventure from 1987 in the style of Zork. Eternal Darkness on the GameCube is one of the most famous Lovecraftian horror games. The Testament of Sherlock Holmes was one of the team’s later games, but was a more traditional Holmesian story. With The Sinking City out this week, clearly one Cthulhu detective game wasn’t enough for them…

DailyBits Feedback

Help us Improve DailyBits!

We hope you’ve enjoyed this issue of our e-zine, DailyBits! Feedback is extremely important, and we are grateful for any time you can spare to provide feedback on this issue and help us improve future ones. It would be very helpful if you could add us to your email contact list, or otherwise drag our emails from the “Promotions” folder to “Primary” (on Gmail only) just to ensure that future editions don’t come in as spam.

Please feel free to send any feedback over to team@dailybits.news. Thank You!