The Sinking City Best Skills Guide

Want to stay alive longer and keep your inventory full of shotgun shells and first aid kits? We show you the absolute best skills pick in The Sinking City!

Part eldritch horror title and part open world sandbox, The Sinking City allows you to customize your detective with a variety of skills as you slowly go mad and discover terrible secrets. Here we're going to go over the best skills you can use in game in full.

Which skill build you take can radically change the difficulty and determine whether you need to spend all your time scrounging for supplies or instead breeze through the main story missions.

Below we cover the specific skills on each tree to take for the best (and least frustrating) overall experience. Just looking for a quick overview instead to make sure you don't miss out on the best picks?

The best overall skills are easily Tight Spring, Trench Sweeper, No Charity, and Silver Tongue. The first two skills aren't needed until you unlock the shotgun near the end of the Throgmorton quests, but those latter two options should absolutely be the first skills you pick when leveling up.

That combination of four skills will keep you alive and flush in crafting materials throughout the entire game, which significantly reduces the overall difficulty.

Combat Proficiency Skills

In terms of combat, I highly recommend going the shotgun route to the exclusion of all other options, with the revolver as your backup weapon when you run out of shells. While it doesn't fire as fast Bolt M11 pistol, the revolver packs a lot more punch and the bullets don't require very many resources to craft.

The battle rifle skills are really only necessary for those players with spectacular aim, since the rifle can only chamber one bullet a time and isn't useful in any situation where there are multiple enemies (or you are facing quick enemies that skitter around to avoid bullets).

Traps can be helpful in the early sections of the game if you are completing side quests before picking up the shotgun, but I found them to be increasingly less useful as the story progressed, so I don't recommend picking up the trap skills unless you consistently have trouble dealing with creatures in interior locations with tight hallways.

In particular, here are the combat skills you can't miss out on:

  • Hardboiled Detective: Gain a small chance to deal double damage with a pistol. This one's not that great a skill on its own, but is required for the next two shotgun skill that are complete game changers.
  • Tight Spring: Load two additional shells into the shotgun, for a total of 4 at a time. This is absolutely critical to surviving close quarters situations so you don't need to constantly reload after every two shots.
  • Trench Sweeper: Combined with Tight Spring, these are hands down the two best combat skills. Since shotgun shells are easier to craft than SMG bullets and are far more accurate, this combo makes the shotgun an absolute implement of death for any squamous, tentacled monsters out there hoping to interference in your investigations.
  • Firm Grip: You don't get the SMG until very late in the game, so you don't need to take this skill that raises SMG accuracy until well after you've already picked the previous shotgun skills.
  • Recoil Control: This one even further increases SMG accuracy, and the two of them combined are necessary if you want to use this gun regularly. Without these skills, you'll run out of bullets far too quickly for the sub machine gun to be useful, as you can't just buy extra bullets anywhere.

Vigor Skills

First things first -- the Furtive Lurker and Indigestible skills are flat out pointless. Unless you are extraordinarily clumsy, you won't ever be falling off cliffs or staying in the water long enough for the man eating eels to make a meal out of you, so don't waste your skill points reducing falling or swimming damage that isn't going to occur in the first place.

The bonus health skills on the other hand are quite helpful, as healing can only occur through crafted or scavenged first aid kits, which are rare. Here are the Vigor skills you should make a point of choosing as you level:

  • Unnatural Recovery: Regenerate health when near death and unlock the next two critical skills.
  • Abnormal Endurance: Add 15% to the health bar to stay alive longer.
  • Eldritch Endurance: Add 25% to the health bar for maximum health (note that first aid kits still recover the same amount of damage however, as this skill only bumps up your maximum health potential).
  • Extra Clip: Carry 7 additional pistol bullets, which is helpful, but the real value here is in unlocking the next skills.
  • Field Medic: Carry 1 additional first aid kit and anti-psychotic. Trust me that you want these, as you will need to heal often.
  • Deep Pockets: Carry 6 additional revolver rounds and unlock the critical next skill.
  • Bottomless Pockets: The best overall Vigor skill, this one lets you hold an extra 4 shotgun shells at a time, turning your detective into a powerhouse when sweeping through monster-infested crime scenes.

Mind Skills

Exploring infected areas to scavenge for materials is highly lethal -- especially before you get better weapons -- so it is absolutely critical that you get plenty of quest rewards.

With that in mind, your first skill picks before anything else should absolutely be No Charity and Silver Tongue.

The Detective Analysis and Deductive Method skills offer bonus experience, which is only helpful if you aren't completing the side cases. If you spend any serious time exploring and finding clues, you won't have any problems leveling up and gaining access to extra knowledge points.

I also didn't find Radiant Mind or Effulgent Mind to be very helpful, because sanity recovers quickly enough (if you can look away from the horrid things quickly) that there aren't many instances where your sanity will bottom out.

Don't skimp on the left side of the Mind path however, as crafting is the only method of getting ammunition and consumables, so anything that makes that cheaper is going to be a huge help.

These are skills in particular you want:

  • No Charity: This first skill gives a 50% chance for bonus quest rewards, which is nice, but the real value here is in unlocking Silver Tongue.
  • Silver Tongue: Grab this skill as soon as you can automatically double all quest rewards. Without this skill unlocked, you will always be out of materials for crafting first aid kits, bullets, and hand grenades.
  • Smart Packing: This skill lets you hold up to 25 of every crafting material, which is critical to being well stocked at all times.
  • Crafting Efficiency (Supplies): You get a 15% chance to not lose supplies when making first aid kits, which is helpful as you will frequently be low on alcohol.
  • Crafting Efficiency (Ammunition): Gain a 15% chance to save materials when crafting ammo. This is useful in all situations, but absolutely critical if you plan on using the SMG.
  • Master Survivalist: After taking the previous skills, you can unlock this one to gain a further 10% chance to save materials when crafting anything.

 Having extra crafting materials is vital to survival!

What are your favorite skills, and what sort of build are you using for your first playthrough of The Sinking City? Sound off in the comments below!

Need more help getting around the city of Oakmont and solving all the various cases? Check out our other The Sinking City guides here:

Featured Contributor

Ty splits his time between writing horror fiction and writing about video games. After 25 years of gaming, Ty can firmly say that gaming peaked with Planescape Torment, but that doesn't mean he doesn't have a soft spot for games like Baldur's Gate, Fallout: New Vegas, Bioshock Infinite, and Horizon: Zero Dawn. He has previously written for GamerU and MetalUnderground. He also writes for PortalMonkey covering gaming laptops and peripherals.

Published Sep. 16th 2019

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