The drama of The Sinking City (opens in new tab) has taken another strange turn, as developer Frogwares said on Twitter that the recently restored, then removed, then restored-again version of the game on Steam is not actually the one it made—and because of that, warned that gamers should not buy it.
First, a recap: The Sinking City, a 1920s detective game set in a flooded fishing town built atop caverns crawling with Lovecraftian horrors, was removed from most digital storefronts in 2020 following a dispute (opens in new tab) between Frogwares and publisher Nacon. Frogwares claimed that Nacon failed to finance development as promised and failed to file accurate income reports, while Nacon said Frogwares was simply making wild claims in order to discredit the publisher in the eyes of the public.
In January 2021, a preliminary ruling in the matter found that Frogwares had terminated its contract with Nacon "in a 'manifestly unlawful' manner," and thus ordered its terms restored. Accordingly, The Sinking City was returned to Steam (opens in new tab) and other storefronts, but very shortly it disappeared again, without explanation, although it remained (and remains) available on the Microsoft Store (opens in new tab). It's also available through Origin (opens in new tab), but was never actually removed from that storefront.
Frogwares has not created the version of @thesinkingcity that is today on sale on @Steam. We do not recommend the purchase of this version. More news soon.February 26, 2021
The Sinking City listing now on Steam (opens in new tab) is different from the one that was removed—the old URL (opens in new tab) is no longer valid—and while it's not immediately clear what the difference is, Steam users say in the mostly-negative comments that it's actually an old version of the game, without DLC, achievements, or cloud saves.
The assumption is that the build was posted by Nacon, but it seems that Frogwares has some access to the Steam page as well: Two separate updates, both posted today, simultaneously trumpet the game's return (opens in new tab) to Steam and warn fans against buying it (opens in new tab). It's a bizarre situation, to say the least.
I've reached out to both Frogwares and Nacon for comment, and will update if I receive a reply—although given that the game was restored to Steam late on a Friday night (Frogwares is based in Ukraine, while Nacon is in France), I suspect it might be awhile.