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Sinking Island

Score: 78%
ESRB: Teen
Publisher: Microids
Developer: White Birds
Media: DVD/1
Players: 1
Genre: Adventure

Graphics & Sound:

Sinking Island takes your standard mystery adventure format, but adds a bit more to the clue-matching and deduction aspects to make it stand out.

While the game has a very 1950's look to it, there are a few times when the visuals feel a bit rough around the edges. Not the pre-rendered backgrounds by any means, but the harsher lines tend to show up in the more pulled back views featuring characters and other objects that exist in the foreground. While not extremely frequent, every time I came across one of these environments, it really stood out and yanked me out of the game experience.

Outside of that, there are a lot of closeups while looking for clues that have a lot of detail, but also convey a very plastic feel, especially in the initial scenes when examining the body of billionaire Walter Jones.

Audio isn't all that bad. Dialogue is pretty solid (which is good because there is a lot of it), but lip synching is nonexistent since there isn't even an attempt to move the characters' lips during conversations.


While Sinking Island doesn't have a lot, or many, logic puzzles in it, the game's story is very much a mystery tale. So there won't be any locked doors that need opening through some strange mechanism, or clues secretly hidden in puzzle boxes that require codes etched in some old desk or anything like that. For the most part, solving the murder mystery will involve talking to all of the people that were on the island at the time of death, examining objects to pick up clues that are right in front of you, and putting it all together. So, while the standard adventure crowd might be a bit put off by this, those who really enjoy the deductive reasoning focused sub-genre will probably get more out of it.

You play a detective who is called to the site of a murder. It appears that billionaire, Walter Jones, who has built a massive hotel on an island that is currently sinking, has been killed. He was dumped out of his wheelchair and off of a cliff. Now you will have to match up torn clothing, footprints and broken fingernails in order to decide which of the dozen or so suspects could possibly have committed the crime. Of course, like always, pretty much everyone has a motive; it's a matter of figuring out who had the opportunity and means.

Sinking Island also offers a second play through where the island's state is actually based on time, so players are racing against the clock in a very real manner, and while this is an interesting feature, it should definitely be left to your second play through.


For the most part, Sinking Island is direct and straightforward, the most difficult part is the sheer repetitive nature of this particular game. Since you are trying to figure out which of the characters could have committed the crime, you will go to each one and ask them the same questions over and over again. You might ask where they were when the crime happened before you start asking their opinion of the other suspects, but in the end, it's the same basic queries, and quite frankly, by the time you get to your last couple of suspects during that initial pass, it will get very tedious.

As far as the actual clue-finding and piecing together of all of the information, the game's clue-manager really makes it easy to combine different items you've collected into meaningful information.

Game Mechanics:

Sinking Island's most eloquent system is probably the aforementioned Clues Manager. Here you will be able to view any scraps of objects you've picked up, as well as clearly tell you what your current objective is (determine alibis, where a chain that Jones wore ended up, etc.). You will use a combination of material clues, photographs, documents and statements people say in order to determine the answer to the question at hand. By solving these smaller deductive problems based on the clues you find, you gain progress in learning who is behind the overall murder.

At first glance, Sinking Island appears to be your standard point-and-click adventure, but the lack of any real logic puzzles outside of the deductive reasoning that follows from the massive leg work you will be doing, makes the target audience for this game even more narrow than your standard adventurer. If you have a hankering for a good murder mystery and don't mind doing the dirty work, then Sinking Island might be worth looking into, but others who find extensive dialogue trees boring should stay away.

-J.R. Nip, GameVortex Communications
AKA Chris Meyer

Minimum System Requirements:

Windows XP (Home & Pro) SP2/Vista, Pentium III 1.5 GHz or higher, 512 MB RAM, 16x DVD-ROM Drive, 3 GB Hard Disk Space, 800 x 600 16-bit color display, DirectX 9.0c compatible or higher 3D video card with 64 MB of video RAM, DirectX 9.0c or higher compatible 16-bit sound card.

Test System:

Alienware Aurora m9700 Laptop, Windows XP Professional, AMD Turion 64 Mobile 2.41 GHz, 2 GB Ram, Dual NVIDIA GeForce Go 7900 GS 256MB Video Cards, DirectX 9.0c

Nintendo DS Red Bull BC One Windows Outcry

Game Vortex :: PSIllustrated