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‘The Sinking City’: One Step Beyond Madness

Published by Bigben Interactive and developed by Frogwares, The Sinking City looks set to place a fresh emphasis on two long-neglected aspects of Lovecraftian videogames; discovery and investigation. The recently revealed details about the mechanics and systems of these processes of revelation, including the time-warping retrocognition feature, have reaffirmed my decision to name The Sinking City as one of my most anticipated games of this year.

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Published by Bigben Interactive and developed by Frogwares, The Sinking City looks set to place a fresh emphasis on two long-neglected aspects of Lovecraftian videogames; discovery and investigation. The recently revealed details about the mechanics and systems of these processes of revelation, including the time-warping retrocognition feature, have reaffirmed my decision to name The Sinking City as one of my most anticipated games of this year.

As we saw with Cyanide Studio’s Call of Cthulhu in late 2018 and the ill-fated Alone in the Dark games, adapting this particular intellectual property to gaming platforms has proven especially difficult. Perhaps that’s a problem with the source material itself being so inherently unusual (even by the standards of gothic horror) more than a failure of creative ambition on the part of previous development teams that have tried to tackle Lovecraft’s loosely connected sequence of nightmarish narratives. All-too-often, developers try and bend Lovecraft’s work to their will in the hopes of creating barely adequate gunplay-based action titles only to fail repeatedly. The unspeakable monstrosities of the Cthulhu mythos are not your common or garden variety of ferocious interdimensional beasts. Able to sculpt the very flesh of reality and drive even the stoutest soul to the darkest recesses of madness, they are in essence a manifestation of the twisted whims that bubble beneath our civilized facades. For the most part, they require a more subtle approach; but it never hurts to pack a shotgun, just in case.

Frogwares are best known for their popular series of critically acclaimed Sherlock Holmes games, and the experience they’ve garnered over the years is on proud display in their latest offering. The developers have paid close attention to the central force that drives any good mystery story. The gradual acquisition of clues, the methodical piecing together of information, and the thrill of dawning understanding are central components of what give great works of detective fiction their cultural longevity. No one can resist solving a good puzzle, but in the cursed city of Oakmont there might be some puzzles best left unsolved.

All great detective stories share a common factor: the non-linear potential for discovery. As such, Frogwares have made absolutely sure that the player’s experience as war veteran turned detective Charles Reed, and his struggle against insanity from without and within will be as freeform as possible. To invest players in the actual mechanics of solving a mystery, there are no objective markers on the map and no task will ever be as straightforward as it might seem. The simple act of traversing the city and encountering its many unconventional inhabitants will slowly reveal different clues that will guide players to uncovering the method behind the madness afoot in this twisted version of 1920s America. In-game advice to help players navigate some of the more convoluted elements of the plot will be available, but purists will no doubt want to turn off those hints. As such, some evidence will be obvious enough that there’s a clear indication of how to proceed, but other clues will need a more thorough investigation.

The retrocognition system is one of the primary tools in Reed’s analytical arsenal. If you want an idea of how this system works, then think of detective vision from Rocksteady’s Arkham series of games but with a supernatural twist. The boundary between dimensions in Oakmont is frayed at best, and fractures in time give players the opportunity to take a glimpse beyond the veil to piece together events as they transpired. Searching through the archives of various institutions and talking to law enforcement officers, allows players to gather crucial hints that will help them determine who or what is behind the various macabre crimes that plague the city. Even though you might not be sure about exactly what to do next, there will always be something to point you in the right direction; it’s just a matter of finding it, and then probably wishing that you hadn’t.

Keeping track of all that information might be a task that could drive even the Great Old Ones to madness, but thankfully The Sinking City provides players with just the right tools for the job. The Casebook functions as a journal that updates as Reed fleshes out the details of his various objectives. Couple that with the mind palace system, where players are given the opportunity to work through the information they’ve gathered to determine who they believe is guilty or innocent of all manner of occult atrocities. The outcome of each case depends entirely on the evidence that players collect, the information they obtain, and their own interpretation of the facts as they stand. No matter who Reed decides to accuse or absolve of each crime, rightly or wrongly, the outcome will have a measurable impact on the wretched lives of the inhabitants of Oakmont, and on Reed’s own quest to rid himself of his burgeoning insanity.

The attempt to explain the otherwise inexplicable has always been a central thread of Lovecraft’s fiction, and The Sinking City is promising to be the most faithful adaptation of the mythos released to date. Fans of survival horror games who might be newcomers to the Cthulhu mythos will find this game to offer captivating and intriguing variations on established genre mechanics and narrative systems. For devoted fans, Frogwares’ most ambitious game thus far, might just be the Lovecraft game that they have spent years saying forbidden prayers for. Whether or not those prayers are answered remains to be seen, however. Initially slated for a late March launch, the developers elected to push the release date back to June this year. Such delays are often a cause for concern, but hopefully, the extra time allows the talented Ukrainian developers to solve any late-stage issues and add that little extra polish needed to make this a truly memorable game. If initial indications are anything to go by, then gamers on PC, PS4, and Xbox One can look forward to taking the plunge into The Sinking City on March 21, 2019.

Chris is a Cambridge, UK based freelance writer and reviewer. A graduate of English Literature from Goldsmiths College in London he has been composing poetry and prose for most of his life. More than partial to real ale/craft beer and a general fan of sci-fi and fantasy. He first started gaming on a borrowed Mega Drive as a child and has been a passionate enthusiast of the hobby and art form ever since. Never afraid to speak his mind he always aims to tell the unvarnished truth about a game. Favourite genres: RPGs, action adventure and MMOs. Least favourite genre: anything EA Sports related (they're the same games every year!)

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Watch the Trailer for ‘The Mandalorian’ the First Live-Action ‘Star Wars’ Series

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Thanks to the arrival of the D23 Expo, Disney has revealed the first trailer for its long-awaited Star Wars original series, The Mandalorian.

Created by Jon Favreau (Iron Man), the series is set after the events of Return of the Jedi and follows Pedro Pascal as a mysterious, gun-slinging Mandalorian bounty hunter who navigates the seedier side of the Star Wars universe.

Along with Pedro Pascal, The Mandalorian stars Gina Carano, Nick Nolte, Giancarlo Esposito, Emily Swallow, Carl Weathers, Omid Abtahi, Werner Herzog, and Taika Waititi. The first season of episodes will be directed by filmmakers like Dave Filoni, Taika Waititi, Bryce Dallas Howard, Rick Famuyiwa, and Deborah Chow.

the mandalorian trailer

Here’s the official description of The Mandalorian:

After the stories of Jango and Boba Fett, another warrior emerges in the Star Wars universe. The Mandalorian is set after the fall of the Empire and before the emergence of the First Order. We follow the travails of a lone gunfighter in the outer reaches of the galaxy far from the authority of the New Republic.

The Mandalorian begins streaming on Disney+ on November 12, 2019.

Check out The Mandalorian trailer below.

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Jordan Peele’s ‘Us’ Soundtrack Gets a Vinyl Release

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While we don’t publish music news or music reviews here at Goomba Stomp, we are huge fans of vinyl and since we cover film, we figured this announcement would interest some of our readers.

Back in 2017, Jordan Peele’s Get Out topped our list of the best films of 2017 and while the year isn’t yet over, there’s a good chance his follow-up Us, will land somewhere on our best of the year list as well. There are many reasons why we love Peele’s ambitious sophomore film including for the suspense, cinematography, performances, and direction, but one thing that doesn’t get enough praise is the soundtrack by Michael Abels. And if you like us, love the original score, you’re going to love this bit of news.

After giving his Get Out soundtrack a vinyl release last year, Jordan Peele is now doing the same for the soundtrack to Us.

WaxWork Records announced the news earlier today and if you’re planning on buying a copy, you don’t have to wait since it is now available to purchase through the label’s website.

The soundtrack, which received a digital release earlier this year, features composer Michael Abels’ score, in addition to songs from Janelle Monáe, Minnie Ripperton and the “Tethered Mix” of Luniz’s “I Got 5 on It” that appeared in the film’s first trailer. The album artwork was created by illustrator Edward Kinsella and features an interactive die-cut mirror board back cover, a heavyweight art print and an exclusive essay from UCLA Professor, scholar, and activist Shana L. Redmond Ph.D.

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Trailer for the Twisted Dark Comedy thriller ‘Villains’

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Alter has released the first poster and the official trailer for Villains, the upcoming dark comedy thriller which stars Bill Skarsgård (IT) and Maika Monroe (It Follows) as a couple who rob a gas station and scores enough cash to start a new life in Florida. Unfortunately for them, their getaway plans turn upside down and the young couple end up stumbling on much more than they bargained for.

Villains hits theaters on September 20th and was written and directed by Dan Berk and Robert Olsen. In addition to Skarsgard and Monroe, the movie also stars Jeffrey Donovan and Kyra Sedgwick. It’s co-produced by Bron Studios, Star Thrower Entertainment, Creative Wealth Media Finance, and The Realm Films. You can watch the trailer for Villains below.

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Beanie Babies: The Collectables with Heart

Toys We Love Spotlight

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For our Toys We Love Spotlight, I’m looking at one of my personal favourites: Beanie Babies. I had collected so many of these growing up, and households worldwide in the 90s and early 2000s were sure to have at least one Beanie Baby in their possession (was it even the 90s if they didn’t?). These plushie companions were cute, cuddly, and collectable, so it’s not a surprise that the Beanie Babies craze swept the globe, forcing parents and toy collectors everywhere to dig into their wallets.


Beanie Babies had a few aspects to them that made them stand out from your average plushie. Firstly, they did not have as much stuffing as most soft toys. Whilst some thought that this made them look cheap, it also made them light, posable, and gave them a realistic feel and look. The bear Beanie Babies were particularly good to pose, and this set them apart from run-of-the-mill teddy bears. Another element that made Beanie Babies more unique was their special tag. Each toy had a tag attached which had the toy’s name, date of birth, and a quotation etched inside. The former was something that could have been a risky choice, as although it wasn’t completely taking away the child’s choice of name — there was nothing stopping them from just calling their Beanie whatever they wanted — a pre-selected name can be difficult to sell, as kids can often take great pride and pleasure in naming their toys.

It was a great success, however, and worked as a nice finishing touch for the Beanie Babies, adding a dash of personality and flair (something much needed in the often critically over-saturated soft toy market), as well as making each Beanie Baby feel like their own creature with their own little stories. Adding to that was the wide variety of animals that were available, such as Tiny the Chihuahua, Pegasus the Unicorn or Swampy the Alligator. This means that the desires of each individual child or enthusiastic collector could be catered to (I myself favoured the dogs and bears).

The puppies were my Beanie Baby of choice. They were all such good boys and girls.

The Beanie Babies also had their own way of tackling difficult issues in society, showing them to kids through the guise of a soft toy. I’ll give you an example through my own experience: I had a Beanie Baby that (as odd as it may sound) gave me more of an understanding of the horrors of September 11th. Weird, right? Allow me to explain. I was only just nine years old on that now-historical day when the twin towers in New York were attacked and so many innocent people lost their lives. I had come home from school (it was afternoon time here in the UK when it happened), and I remember my mum watching it on television in complete shock. She had watched the whole thing whilst I’d been at school.

I didn’t really understand what was happening to be honest. Even when I was watching the repeats of the plane crashing into the side of the tower, I was somewhat oblivious the gravity of the situation (though as a nine year old child, I suppose I could be forgiven for that). The news continued to report the tragedy for a long time, and my school held assemblies to discuss the matter. I knew people had died, and that made me very sad, but I remember thinking that people died all the time, so why was this one incident reported on so much? About a month or so after, TY released three Beanie Babies as a tribute to those lost during 9/11. One of these was a Dalmatian Beanie Baby called Rescue, and I wanted him the moment I saw him, not really knowing the true nature of his purpose. My mum obliged happily, knowing what he represented. I remember taking my little Dalmatian with the red collar and American flag on his leg home and reading his tag. It read:

To honor our heroes
who lost their lives in the
national catastrophe that
took place on September 11, 2001.
We mourn for them and express our
deepest sympathy to their families.
God Bless America

Rescue the Dalmatian was joined by America the Bear and Courage the German Shepherd. The Beanies were a set of three released to honor those who perished in the tragedy of 9/11.

I found Rescue in my room recently, and the memories flooded back to me upon reading it again. I remember looking into all the acts of heroism and bravery after reading Rescue’s tag, and that’s when the situation really hit home to me. I looked into the stories of firefighters and first responders and those who had died, as well as all the search-and-rescue dogs attempting to save people among the chaos. As a child, it can be hard to see past your immediate opinion and truly consider the sheer weight of a situation, but with Rescue’s help, I was able to see just how this event was indeed very different to anything I had ever seen before, and how serious it was. It was the first time I felt like I was thinking like a grown up. I looked at the world differently from then on — obviously as I got older, but also from my ability to think harder and search deeper. Honestly, I don’t know if I would have even bothered if it wasn’t for Rescue reminding me of exactly how much was lost on that day.

Rescue, perhaps the goodest and bravest boy of them all.

Beanie babies will forever be ingrained in culture. They are still bought, sold and collected even now and will remain a timeless staple of most of our childhoods. They certainly are for me. Especially you Rescue, the bravest firefighting Dalmatian the world has ever known.

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‘Shenmue III’ Gamescom Trailer Details a Day in the Life of Ryo

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The original Shenmue games pioneered the open world genre, in part through their inclusion of many different minigames and side activities. The Kickstarter-funded Shenmue III looks to continue that legacy, as developer Ys Net and publisher Deep Silver have debuted a new trailer at Gamescom 2019 entitled “A Day in Shenmue.”

The developers provided the following description of the trailer via their latest Kickstarter update: “Exploring the town, playing minigames and battling! We hope it feels just how a Shenmue day should!” Sure enough, the footage showcases the series protagonist Ryo participating in a number of minigames, such as a boxing game and a pachinko machine. The end of the trailer also includes a good look at the series’ signature kung fu combat.

Beyond the new trailer, the Kickstarter update also noted that Yu Suzuki, the famed creator of Shenmue, will be present at Gamescom for autograph signings.

After numerous delays, Shenmue III will finally launch on November 19, 2019 for PS4 and PC via the Epic Games Store.

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Freelance Film Writers

Goomba Stomp is the joint effort of a team of like-minded writers from across the globe. We provide smart readers with sharp, entertaining writing on a wide range of topics in pop culture, offering an escape from the usual hype and gossip. We are currently looking for Film, TV, Anime and Comic writers.

Contact us: Editor@GoombaStomp.com

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