The Sinking City: Combat and survival guide

Survival of the creepiest.
The Sinking City Combat And Survival Guide Feat

In The Sinking City, you’ll spend most of your time investigating cases and gathering clues. There are, however, some harrowing moments that’d require you to bust out the big guns and mow down wylebeasts. These dangerous creatures are the brainchild of Frogwares, with a dash of Lovecraftian influence. This is our mini guide to help you succeed in The Sinking City‘s combat. It’s survival of the creepiest in the mean streets of Oakmont.

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Note: If you’re already familiar with the basics and you need help with the investigations, we’ve got our walkthrough guide for all the cases, Retrocognition, and Archive solutions.

Infested Area Marker

Dial “M” for Monster.

The respawning items exploit

First things first: although The Sinking City‘s inhabitants and tooltips will tell you that ammo is scarce and you have to scavenge to survive, all of that flies out the window when you realize that containers end up getting restocked. Simply grab everything you need from a building, exit and go around the bend, then go back inside. You’ll have the ammo and crafting materials in those containers again. If the location’s in an open area, you might have to save and load the game or fast travel.

This is something that will truly break your immersion while playing The Sinking City. However, it’s also a glitch that’ll help when you’re in a bind. As noted in our technical review, this bug is one that’s beneficial for the player.

The Sinking City Combat And Survival Guide Wylebeast Enemy Type Spitter Infested Area

With a backpack like that, you know Reed’s got more than just cans of corned beef.

Comfy crafting and player skills

Your character, Charles Reed, levels up when you kill wylebeasts, discover new locations, or, more importantly, complete cases. You’ll gain skill points that you can allocate to a handful of boosts. There are three main categories:

  • Combat Proficiency – skills that determine the damage you deal with firearms, explosives, and traps
  • Vigor – skills that increase your ammo and item carrying capacity, health, melee attacks, and defensiveness against damage
  • Mind – skills that increase experience gain, sanity, and the chance to get materials refunded when crafting

Needless to say, Mind skills are the most important. Start with experience boosts, since these will help you the most as you progress through The Sinking City. Then, look at the crafting refunds and sanity buffs.

Vigor skills that increase ammo and item carrying capacity and Combat Proficiency skills boosting firearms damage are also important. Damage reduction (ie. fall damage, swimming), melee attack buffs, and trap setting are next to useless.

As for crafting, getting refunded materials while increasing carrying capacity will prove quite synergistic. You’re picking up materials and items from containers, so you might as well have more of them to use at any given time.

The Sinking City Combat And Survival Guide Skill Points

Mind over matter.

Infested areas: When in doubt, run

The Sinking City — Oakmont — has a number of districts and there are many landmarks and icons to guide you along the way. Each one will have multiple Infested Areas (marked with an “M”). You can safely pass through these areas since monsters take a couple of seconds to spawn. Some will run, some will leap, and some will shamble around. You can avoid all of them easily enough. Some Infested Areas, however, will need some “ghostbusting,” since they’re related to cases or sidequests.

There are parts of the main quest when you really need to fight, and that’s where kiting comes in handy. Many of these creatures cannot go outside buildings. If you run some distance away, they’ll despawn as well. There are even interiors that have obstacles, such as boxes, which they can’t get past.

If you’re in a tough spot, such as a basement, simply run back upstairs and the wylebeasts will follow you. Throw a grenade or shoot them as they try to reach you.

Enemies Blocked By Boxes

Dead Cthulhu waits dreaming… for someone to move those boxes.

Hunting Wylebeasts: Enemy types

The Sinking City has a variety of monsters that you’ll encounter. For the sake of simplicity, I simply gave them nicknames while I was reviewing the game:

  • Skitterers – The first type of wylebeast you encounter leaps sideways until it’s close enough to slash you. They also die in one pistol shot or a couple of melee hits.
  • Spitters – These guys spit acidic globules at you. They’re one of the most dangerous enemies in the game since they have decent accuracy as well. Sidestep or use natural barriers while taking potshots to kill them.
  • Leapers – The most annoying enemy type in the game. Leapers, well, they’re like bullfrogs that jump at you. They have a tell which is when they roar, and then that’s followed by a leaping attack. If they snag you, you’re in for a world of hurt.
  • Acid Leapers – These ones also leap around, although they spit acid at you most of the time. They also leave behind large pustules that explode.
  • Screamers – Another wylebeast variant that’s fairly rare. These ones will instead roar very loud for prolonged periods, damaging your health per second.
  • Abominations – The largest of the wylebeasts found in the mean streets of Oakmont. One swipe can drop your health considerably so make sure to take them out from afar. They’re slow and you can run circles around them, but they can soak a lot of damage before they drop.
The Sinking City Combat And Survival Guide Wylebeast Enemy Type Abomination Infested Area

The bigger they are the harder they… uh, hit.

  • Tentacles – One of two types of monsters found in underwater/diving sections in The Sinking City. They’ll pop up to attack you, but a harpoon shot is enough to make them go away.
  • Devilfish – This thing is the devil himself — it’s a tentacled fish that roams around. Harpoon shots will only daze it for a few seconds, after which it’ll swim back towards you. Each attack can take out half your health. Since you can’t heal during underwater sections, make sure to keep stunning it.
  • Shadows – These are shadow copies of creatures in the game that can spawn when your sanity is low. Some, like rats, aren’t dangerous. Others, like skitterers or tentacles, will damage your health. Replenish your sanity passively or use antipsychotics to clear your mind.
  • Mobsters and Cultists – Human enemies in The Sinking City that are defeated easily enough.
  • Unarmed Civilians – Not necessarily enemies, but the unarmed NPCs in the game can be killed. Beware, however, because as mentioned in our official review, you’re going to see your sanity drop severely. After all, what kind of an individual starts shooting innocents?

The Sinking City has a couple of rather simple boss fights. We’ll discuss these more in our full walkthrough guide for the game.

The Sinking City Combat And Survival Guide Wylebeast Enemy Type Devilfish Underwater Infested Area

This fella annoyingly chases you underwater.

Managing your sanity

Remember why we mentioned in this guide that you’d want to use your skill points to gain sanity boosts? The wylebeasts you encounter in The Sinking City will drain your health over time. Whether you’re shooting at them or just kiting, the mere fact that Reed sees them is enough to psychologically affect him. Don’t accidentally kill unarmed NPCs because your sanity will drop faster than a boulder thrown overboard a ship.

Make sure you’re always stocked up on health kits and antipsychotics to replenish your health and sanity respectively. When your sanity drains, there’s a chance that shadow creatures will also spawn, and some of these can damage your health as well. When in a bind, again, just kite and find a safe spot. Alternatively, if you found an obstacle or a wall, just turn your back to enemies until your sanity is gradually restored.

The Sinking City Combat And Survival Guide Cultist And Other Npcs Infested Area

This guy may look crazy, but, if you shoot him, you’ll go crazy instead.

That about does it for our combat and survival guide for The Sinking City. We’ll have more guides up soon. The game is available for early access for those who’ve pre-ordered, but the official release is on June 27. In the meantime, do check out our features and guides hub for The Sinking City right here.

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Jason Rodriguez
Jason Rodriguez is a guides writer. Most of his work can be found on PC Invasion (around 3,400+ published articles). He's also written for IGN, GameSpot, Polygon, TechRaptor, Gameskinny, and more. He's also one of only five games journalists from the Philippines. Just kidding. There are definitely more around, but he doesn't know anyone. Mabuhay!