LOSE YOUR MIND. EAT YOUR CREW. DIE. Take the helm of your steamship and set sail for the unknown! Sunless Sea is a game of discovery, loneliness and frequent death, set in the award-winning Victorian Gothic universe of Fallen London.
User reviews: Very Positive (1,045 reviews)
Release Date: Feb 6, 2015

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Recommended By Curators

"A narratively driven rogue-lite, perhaps a more story-driven FTL? Whatever the case the world is fascinating and the writing sublime and funny."
Read the full review here.

Recent updates View all (30)

February 27

New in Sunless Sea: 27th Feb

Delicious friends! Another week and MORE NEW CONTENT:

"The traveller is always returning. One who does not is no traveller."

Another advanced Ambition is now available. It cannot be selected at game start, only found in-game.

It touches on certain long-shrouded mysteries - the TRAVELLER RETURNING, a palace in the winter woods, a fierce old pale thing in the dark.

It will cost your captains' lineage dearly, so complete it only when you've savoured all the zee has to offer.


WHAT ARE WE WORKING ON?

We have a robust solution to the framerate bug. It's such a central part of the game and there are a lot of edge cases, so we really want to make sure it's safe and well tested before releasing the fix.

But we didn’t want to leave you hanging, so here’s BLEMMIGAN!

This toothsome little patch goes some way to addressing the performance issues, alongside a heap of smaller things:

  • We know many of you will be overjoyed to hear that the horn should now work just as much as you care to press H (be prepared for it to attract attention).
  • A hidden Steam achievement has just become available!
  • Sunlight-smuggling now has a story function, and a corresponding limit.
  • People playing on monitors that Unity does not natively support should no longer experience issues when going to the video options page.
  • Zee-beasts now have improved AI, preventing you from remaining in their blind spot behind them without them being able to spot you.
  • Ramming behavior has been improved to make it harder to avoid attacks.
  • Quality and story images now have additional caching added to them in order to address performance issues.
  • HUD updates have been re-worked in order to address performance issues.
  • Civilian ships should no longer pop in and out of nowhere, but rather should behave in the same manner as hostile vessels. Except they won't attack you.
  • Using an item in combat, then switching to your hold, will no longer reset the item's cooldown.

Read the full patch notes here.

Most of our team will be at GDC next week, so you can expect to see MAGELLAN soon after we return.

As ever, we feast greedily upon your bug reports! Please send them to sunlesssea@failbettergames.com.

Enjoy the new ambition!
FBG

20 comments Read more

February 19

New in Sunless Sea this week!

First of all here's some NEW CONTENT!

A new ambition for your captains! Found a colony at the world's end, in a place of beauty and searing danger. Grow it slowly over time. Claim legitimacy as a monarch of the zee, and win the game.

WHAT ARE WE WORKING ON?

Just yesterday, we discovered the cause of the stuttering/framerate bug some of you have been experiencing. Thanks to everyone who submitted a bug report about it!

We’re working on a fix for it. We want to include that fix in the MAGELLAN update, so we're holding MAGELLAN back for a few days.

A few more things we’ve been talking about this week:

Translations

We’ve spent a good while thinking and talking about translations, and following the discussion in the forums.

Sunless Sea contains 250,000 words. That’s longer than Moby Dick. It took six writers and two editors two years to write it in English. The resources required to translate the game into even one more language are simply massive - too big for our team.

Having said that, we're delighted some of you are interested in translating the game! But because it's not practical for us to check or manage fan translation mods, we won't be able to officially endorse them.

Controller support

This is still on our ‘nice to have’ list. Whether we’re able to add it is down to how well the game does over the next few months.

Let us know how you get on with the new ambition!

Until next time,
FBG

27 comments Read more

Reviews

“Sunless Sea's method of storytelling isn't unique, but it has never been realised with such impact and elegance.”
10/10 – Eurogamer

“Absolutely the best writing in any video game since, well, as long as I can remember.”
10/10 – PCGamesN

“a very compelling and satisfying adventure... The realm of possibilities seems endless, and every time I set sail I find something new.”
9/10 – Destructoid

About This Game

LOSE YOUR MIND. EAT YOUR CREW. DIE.

Take the helm of your steamship and set sail for the unknown! Sunless Sea is a game of discovery, loneliness and frequent death, set in the award-winning Victorian Gothic universe of Fallen London.

If the giant crabs, sentient icebergs and swarms of bats don’t get you, madness and cannibalism certainly will. But that old black ocean beckons, and there’s loot for the brave souls who dare to sail her.

Betray your crew, sell your soul to a Devil, marry your sweetheart. Survive long enough and you’ll achieve your life’s ambition.

You will die, but your legacy will live on…

Key features

  • A deep, compelling world packed with 200,000+ words of stories and secrets. Find your father’s bones. Determine London’s destiny. Defy the gods of the deep sea.
  • Beautiful, hand drawn art - castles of sparkling ice, prisons perched on lily pads, fog-shrouded lighthouses and the DAWN MACHINE.
  • Your captain will die. But you can pass on resources from one generation to the next. Acquire a family home and a hoard of heirlooms. Build up your own story across generations of zailors who braved the sea and lost - or won...
  • Real-time combat against ships and Zee-beasts, spider-crewed dreadnoughts and sentient icebergs.
  • Light and dark, terror and madness: stray too far from the gas-lamps of civilisation and your crew will grow fearful and eventually lose their sanity.
  • Upgrade your steamship with powerful engines, cannons and pneumatic torpedo guns. (Or buy a bigger, better ship.)
  • Hire unique officers like the Haunted Doctor and the Irrepressible Cannoneer. Each has a story to tell, if you can draw it out of them.
  • Choose a ship’s mascot: the Comatose Ferret, the Wretched Mog, the Elegiac Cockatoo, and more!
  • Trade or smuggle silk and souls, mushroom wine and hallucinogenic honey.

System Requirements

Windows
Mac OS X
    Minimum:
    • OS: Windows XP or later
    • Processor: 2Ghz or better
    • Memory: 1 GB RAM
    • Graphics: 1280x768 minimum resolution, DirectX 9.0c compatible graphics card
    • DirectX: Version 9.0c
    • Hard Drive: 700 MB available space
    • Sound Card: DirectX 9.0c compatible
    Minimum:
    • OS: Mac OS X 10.6 or later
    • Processor: 2Ghz or better
    • Memory: 1 GB RAM
    • Graphics: 1280x768 minimum resolution, DirectX 9.0c compatible graphics card
    • Hard Drive: 700 MB available space
    • Sound Card: DirectX 9.0c compatible
Helpful customer reviews
5 of 8 people (63%) found this review helpful
3 people found this review funny
17.2 hrs on record
Posted: February 28
A fantastic Lovecraftian shipping simulator for those who wish death by WTF was included in more games.
Was this review helpful? Yes No Funny
2 of 3 people (67%) found this review helpful
11.2 hrs on record
Posted: February 28
There were no screams. There was no time.

Full Review // http://www.honestgamers.com/12489/pc/sunless-sea/review.html
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2 of 3 people (67%) found this review helpful
31.8 hrs on record
Posted: February 27
I very rarely review games, but felt the need to put in a good word for this. I have been absolutely enraptured with Sunless Sea the past week and haven't been able to put it down 20 hours in. The gameplay may be a tad on the slow side for some people, but it's an excellent change of pace from most games for me.
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2 of 3 people (67%) found this review helpful
9.0 hrs on record
Posted: February 27
The most drawn in to a games atmosphere and story as I've been since the original Bioshock. Just amazing writing that really makes you see what you're reading off the screen. Some complain about the combat and speed, but I enjoy it. If you could zip to the other side of the games map in a matter of minutes it would completely ruin the game.

Great little game, well worth the price.
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3 of 5 people (60%) found this review helpful
28.1 hrs on record
Posted: February 27
Kill your crew for fuel, get a nasty sunburn, piss your pants

Sunless Sea is a game from the developers of Fallen London so i went in expecting to need knowlege from that to enjoy this but the opposite is true, i played both and know squat. The world of the unterzee is as vast as it is confusing, you won't find all of it's secrets in one run in fact you'll be surprised to find out anything before your first captain is with the drownies at the bottom of the unterzee or in the belly of a zee beast but that's ok, this game is made to be enjoyed through several deaths.

Lets start out simple, the graphics are great for what this is. You're playing a 2D overhead exploring game, don't expect crytech graphics with frostbite action but expect beautiful terrifying buildings, lost islands that will invade your dreams or give you nightmares. Simple beauty is what i'm trying to say here, in my library of tripple A games with "real life graphics" this is one of the most beautiful because the images stick, when you see Irem or the Sea of Statues you don't easily forget them, they're all as different as can be yet all as haunting as the game implies.

Combat is simple in Sunless Sea and expet to get into a fight often, you keep the enemy in sight of your guns and let them charge while staying out of their range and try to sink them and take their cargo or flesh depending on what you killed. There are skills that help with combat by making you hit harder or make you harder to see but that's not something i'll go over th game does it well enough on it's own. One important thing i need to stress is not to get cocky, from the very start you can run into enemies that will sink you faster than the titanic, learn what is where and when to run.

Now my favorite part of Sunless Sea is the story, you need to find it. You are free to make whatever destiny you want, run between ports grabbing things for people or taking reports for the admiralty, sink ships or monsters and become the most powerful thing on the unterzee. There are several ways to win the game but none of them come easy, explore and make your own destiny in the unterzee or find the fastest way to retire you'll have fun either way and uncover things that might make you change course.

One thing i want to note about the game is that when your captain's run is over, win lose or draw, you can make a new one that can get special boosts depending on your last captain's choices. For example if you made a will your next character will start off with more choices over your items, if you made some heirlooms you'll get more money for your next captain, you can even find things in the game Fallen London for your next captain.

Sunless Sea is a great game, it's as long as you want to make it but terrifying all the way to the end, not in a horror game type of way though don't expect any jumpscares unless you happen to stumble upon the eye. At the time i'm writing this Sunless Sea has only been on full release for a short time and there are some things it needs like more stories to fill in spots and some more items to strive for but overall i give it a 9/10, great game just in need of polish.
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3 of 5 people (60%) found this review helpful
16.2 hrs on record
Posted: February 27
I found Sunless Sea to be incredibly amusing. It was well worth the cost.

Video Review:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4W_VGE5YEGA

What is it?

Sunless Sea is a rouge-like adventure game where you play as a steamship captain of the Underzee. Your victory condition is determined by what you choose at the beginning of the game, which could be a lust for wealth, knowledge, or to find your past (although you could happen upon other ways to win as you play).

Gamplay consists of choices that you have to make throughout the game. It could range from choosing whether to listen to or attack a bandit to choosing a side in the rodent wars (not joking). Beyond that, you must ensure that your vessel is properly stocked and you need to plot a course. The outcome of these choices is often determined by one of the five stats that your captain has.

It is also worth noting that Sunless Sea is not an action filled rouge like. The action is mostly played out in the text that the game provides that player. You will also fight on the open Zee, but that is a small portion of the game overall.

Pros:

-This game has an amazing sense of humor. It comes straight from Wells, Shelly, and even a bit of Crusoe while mixing in Lovecraftian horror.

-The choices are numerous. You can go anywhere in the Underzee form the beginning of the game, and from that you have a plethora of things that you could do.

-The choices are impactful. Deciding to go one way can open a whole new path for you, but it will also cut off another. You'll always feel like your decisions in the game matter.

-The narratives are interesting. I love the stories that have been put into this game. They are mysterious and captivating, and that is a must have for such a narative driven game.

-The atmosphere is palpable. The game sucks you into the dread and mystery of the Underzee. From the wordy style to the beautiful art, the game keeps you on edge.

Cons

-There is a lot of reading. Personally I don't see this as a big downside, but if you don't enjoy reading (or want to see lots of neat explosions) this might not be the game for you.

-When you die, you have to do it all over again. This is a particular problem for Sunless Sea. The only thing that actually changes between deaths are the locations of the islands. You will have to play through the same story every time you die.

Overall, I consider this to be a great game that is well worth it's price tag. I'll be playing a lot of it in the days to come.
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4 of 7 people (57%) found this review helpful
14.0 hrs on record
Posted: February 28
I had high hopes for this game. I truly enjoyed the game's theme, which brought me to it in the first place. Sadly the game failed to follow through, for me at least. I put 12 hours into learning the game, died as many times. I feel largely unsatisfied; the game very much needs a tutorial, as gameplay was not instictive, and I could not for the life of me find a decent internet guide.
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7 of 13 people (54%) found this review helpful
11.5 hrs on record
Posted: March 1
This is a warning before it's too late for all of you.
Don't buy this game.
The premise sounds good and you hear the writing is fantastic.
But the disjointed plots, dull gameplay, and utterly futile progression mechanics makes any attempt to enjoy this game destined to fail.
Save yourself some hours of being mad at how slow ♥♥♥♥ is in this game and how little money you get and don't buy it.
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1 of 2 people (50%) found this review helpful
30.7 hrs on record
Posted: February 27
I can and cannot reccomend this game. I both love it, and hate it. It's full of a rich story, which, when augmented with the free browser game "Fallen London" thats made by the same team, is even deeper, but the gameplay itself has some issues.

Firstly, as others have aptly noted, the combat system is more or less just plain meh. Its frustratingly difficult in the beginning and later on is just rote method of blasting enemies. Secondly, while it can be fun to roam around and discover things for yourself, the game can become tedious with all the running around trying to figure out what particular item you need when. Thirdly, it drags. Not just when it comes to item acquisition, the game just gets boring. I put 30 hours into it, more or less loving it, and then finally, after I dabbled in the sunlight trade ( look on the guides for more info on THAT ), I just got BORED. The game had mostly lost its charm. It seemed as if it was either too hard to get money through regular methods, or too easy with the sunlight trade ( I do believe they've nerfed the sunlight trade in the latest update, but I haven't look into it- so don't go by that assessment entirely ).

The point is that its a slow game with a really rich story. You'll find yourself slogging across the Unterzee questioning your sanity for even playing the game anymore, but still enjoying the immersion. And also, when you DO discover that item you've been needing for hours, its absolutely wonderful!

Lastly, the game is a roguelike, you can turn on manual saving, but the default setting is rogue. You die and lose a ton of your gains.

Bottom line: I'm on the fence. If you can get it on sale then go ahead for sure, full price.... idk. I'm not saying not to, but I can't guarantee you'll like it.
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1 of 2 people (50%) found this review helpful
46.1 hrs on record
Posted: February 28
30 hours in and the game this most reminds me of, I'm proud to say, is Star Control 2. If you're old enough to remember that fondly and you haven't played Sunless Sea, then you must. Very immersive, lots of fun.
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1,500 of 1,579 people (95%) found this review helpful
8 people found this review funny
43.9 hrs on record
Posted: February 7
My crew attempted a mutiny, upset and frightened from being out at sea for too long. When their mutiny failed, I sailed them back to London. Once home was in sight, and they gathered at the rails to sing praise, I promptly turned the ship around and sailed it in a circle. And then another circle, this one wider. Then, a third circle, this one smaller.

No one commits mutiny on my vessel.

Time moved swiftly as the circles continued. My crew only had a faint understanding of what punishments were in store for them as I spent the night in my cabin, fornicating with our surgeon. Around and around and around we sailed.

It soon dawned on them what was happening when the nightmares came, when the food and supplies began running low. Once the food was gone, the madness came quick; the frightened tears, quicker. One member wanted to kill herself, but I wouldn't allow it. Another begged me to stop the endless circles, so I sailed them faster, sloppier. Once, I sailed close to a zee-beast. It swam away, wanting no part in the theatre of suffering I was producing. An entire meal, the crew's last hope of staving off death by starvation, had gone. Only the circles remained.

If they wanted to live, they had to eat. Keeping their humanity was no longer an option. They knew what little choice they had, and what little they could do to control it. Out of food, cannibalism quickly took hold on the decks. Crew members butchered and ate each other after yet another failed mutiny. And back in my cabin, all I could do was muse with my sultry lady in lilac, the crewmembers' wails of grief a very, very potent aphrodisiac for more fornication.

We sailed, ate, sailed again. The rhythm never broke. A circle without end.

Soon I took part in the feasting of a brazen zailor who tried to shoot me and failed spectacularly in doing so. The few remaining crew and I ate him and we said nothing of the incident. They knew better. The silence was terrible for them, and it pleased me. Nearby, a cargo vessel sailed past us without pause. You could almost smell the bounty of food and fuel aboard it. They never knew what we were doing, or what we've become, circling without end. Then, they were gone, and my remaining crew came undone.

I shot a crewman who attempted to abandon ship, and I tossed his body overboard. I did nothing as another member leapt overboard soon after, only to be swallowed by the waves, screaming about Salt's curse being set upon us. I dined with the lady in lilac again as the second to last crewman wept and succumbed in his sleep to nightmares, alone and misbegotten.

I believe his corpse is still decomposing in its spot, somewhere in the dark in the lowest corner of my vessel, the Unsinkable II. He shall remain there as a souvenir until I see fit.

Finally, when it was just me and one broken crew member left, I turned the ship portside and set us off. Time to stop the circles; home was near, just at the edge of the screen. I paid a hefty fee for a tow and returned to port, to my zeeside mansion, where I slept like a baby that evening.

London was oblivious. Or unmoved.

Tomorrow, thirteen new crew members await orders to set sail. They haven't the foggiest of what to expect.

No one commits mutiny on my vessel.

10/10
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449 of 476 people (94%) found this review helpful
2 people found this review funny
25.6 hrs on record
Posted: February 12
The Pirates laughed.
They laughed as they sunk my ship. None but I were alive on that ship. I sunk into the depths for the second time. That is when I swore that I would have my vengeance. I was no longer Promthelius - a dapper chap of Fallen London.
I was Ahab - and this game; my great white whale.

I started from scrap. I had nothing but a ship and a gun. I started trading Sphinxstones. I brought them to London for a nominal fee. It was not living, but surviving. Pirates swarmed my trade-route. I tried to avoid them for a time, but my ship would not take me further with the holes in it's hull. It slowed to a crawl, and five Pirate-ships sank me with an impressive display of teamwork for a bunch of thieves. I heard the laughter as I sank into those obsidian depths below. Was this how it ended? Was this how Ahab would be remembered?

No.

I would not succumb there. I was Ahab. I was the reckoning of Promthelius. I was two generations of seething disdain for this world, and all that inhabited it.

I started again. I threw caution to the wind, and traded wildly. With naught but two hundered echoes and two barrels of fuel, I found the Salt Lions. I once more started trading in sphinxstones.
Pirates swarmed, but I mostly avoided them. They laughted, jeering and taunting me. Was I a Coward? Perhaps.

I traded sphinxstones until the Salt Lions ran out. And thus began one year of sunshine. I traded empty boxes of mirrors in the city of Khan's Shadow, and captured the sunshine from the Neath in droves as I emerged there from the Cumaean canal. Three boxes turned into six. Six turned into sixteen. I bought a new ship - a trading vessel with one hundered and twenty units of cargo-space. My Empire of sunshine on that opaque expanse.

My plan was not without fault. Pirates tried and failed to sink me. I faced much danger upon those waters. Men and women so uncouth and guileful that they should like to rob me were swarming those waters. But with purpose, I sank or avoided all that followed.

In the end, ninety boxes of sunshine at each time was delivered to the Isle of Cats. I netted tidy sums of money. The Isle of Cats was a sun upon my obsidian empire. But the age of sun could not last. My last run ended in roaring success. Sixty thousand echoes filled my vault.

Once back in London, I had only one purpose.
With my money, I bought an Eschatologue-class Dreadnaught, and all the battle-gear that Fallen London had to offer.
It was expensive, but vengeance is a dish best served with overwhelming firepower.

And through my cannons, upon the deck of that Dreadnaught, my justice had finally come. I ended the reign of Pirates in a single day. Unfinished revolutionaries, Pirate Steamers, Republic Dreadnaughts and Glorious Dreadnaughts. It made no difference. All were sunk. All plunged to the depths under the sound of my cannons. Some say that they can still hear me laughing. There are no Pirates upon these waters, Friends. Only death.

I am Ahab. And I have taken my great white whale. My vengeance is complete.
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441 of 568 people (78%) found this review helpful
1 person found this review funny
31.4 hrs on record
Posted: February 9
The biggest disappointment with this game is the thing that I see praised endlessly in the positive reviews - the writing and stories. Yes, the writing is pretty good and yes the stories are interesting. The problem is that they are only good and interesting the first time you read them. The true horror of this world hit me on my third captain when I realized that nothing was ever going to change. You come to realize that everything is always the same, and nothing varies. Get port reports for the Admiralty, with the same cute flavor-text repeated ad-nauseum. Go ashore to repeat one of the exact same 1-3 random events every time. Go to sea and realize that the exact same monsters will continuously appear in the the exact same positions forever. Recruit the same paltry handful of officers, with the exact same stories, resolved the exact same way every time. And then you can go the really stand-out islands with in-depth stories and mysteries, only to again realize that these are played out in five minutes through random-chance screen-prompts with maybe two or three alternate paths. In about 30 hours (as of this writing) I really feel like I've seen pretty much every single thing it has to offer. And this is simply unforgivable for a game that sells itself on the fact that you will die.

Based on that, I expected that characters would change and cycle. That only a few officers would be available to any one captain. That entire islands would disappear from the zee, and whole new ones would appear. That Fallen London would be teeming with traders, demons, nobles, thieves, naval officers, etc who would constantly change out and be replaced. That the trade goods and prices would change and your new captain would be forced to again explore and seek out the best suppliers and the best buyers. Areas you previously considered "safe" would now be home to vicious beasts. Basically, that playing as a new captain would feel rewarding and new. That's the sad part. It isn't. Nothing ever changes. Considering that the game is basically all text and random chance prompts, there should have been hundreds, if not thousands of stories and events that you could potentially see. There's really no excuse for how utterly static the world is.

That might be something you could ignore (though not forgive) if the game was fun to play, but it's not. Trading is so utterly pointless I don't understand why they even bothered adding items to the game. You will never be able to make more than three Echo per commodity, and you'll inevitably have to spend that profit plus an additional markup to replace the food and fuel you used to trade those goods in the first place. Exploration is a complete crapshoot because more often than not finding something valuable will require you to pass a skill check and you will never have enough skill points to have even a decent chance. When it comes to fighting monsters, just get to the edge of them, flip the boat in reverse, and then keep blasting the engines as you shoot them. You'll basically never be hit again.

I will say, just like everyone else, that the music is excellent and the atmosphere was very intriguing while it lasted. That is not enough. If you still find yourself interested, then please play the browser game instead. It's free, and it has a lot more content than you will find here.
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146 of 168 people (87%) found this review helpful
5 people found this review funny
82.6 hrs on record
Posted: February 6
Early Access Review
Sunless Sea is absolutely wonderful. I honestly can't praise the game enough. Why is that?

The writing is sublime. The atmosphere, sound and setting all incredible and haunting in equal measure. In navigating the lonely, dark seas, one can't help but be completely immersed. Whether you are ferrying bandaged Tomb Colonists to distant islands, or sneaking mysterious fungi into remote outposts, you'll be having a terror-tinged blast.

Fuel and supplies will run low. Huge, ferocious creatures will stalk you through the dark. Terror will slowly creep in. The game is difficult, perhaps even a little too daunting at first, as some have found. But just diving into it, venturing as far as you dare and exploring the remarkable amount of content on offer will see you reap the rewards. Both in monetary gain in-game and satisfaction out-of-game.

The development during Early Access ironed out the majority of the last remaining kinks, and has left the game in a fantastic place. If you appreciate a wonderful atmosphere and truly original writing, and have the urge to explore the wonders of a unique underground ocean, definitely check out Sunless Sea.
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122 of 140 people (87%) found this review helpful
1 person found this review funny
111.0 hrs on record
Posted: January 25
I've sunk way too many hours into this game (and way too many ships). I bought it a month or so ago when it had much less content and was much easier and I couldn't put it down. I would prattle on to my friends about Compulsion (the ridiculous engine that eats fuel and makes you speed across the zee), the rejected marriage proposal I made to the Deviless (she thought I was joking! I gave her my soul, even!), the Pull of Nuncio, the Principles or Coral, the best way to get Searing Enigmas, the mysteries of Station III, the riddle of Visage, the frustration of dealing with the Khanate...

I would stay up late reading excerpts of the amazing prose to my boyfriend and both of us were absolutely rapt with attention and immersion into the world of Fallen London. Watching the stories connect with each other and the gating system of content (Something Awaits You means you must spend some time at zee before unlocking more stories or events) keeping me on the edge of my seat...

This game has consumed my life and my attention. I love the concept and mechanics offered by using information as inventory items. I love opening the game to see the "New Stories Available!" button lit up and being excited for more of the amazing artwork and prose being available.

In the past while, the game has been being balanced as it prepares for release. It's made the game MUCH harder. Things I took for granted in the past: "I can take out this 210-point-hull with torpedos and crazy weapons with my 75-hull one-gun starter ship, no problem!" or "a risky challenge? ah, whatever, it's just crew/hull/terror/supplies/fuel!" or "my engines only explode SOME of the time..." or "psch, curses? whaaaatever" are now HOLY CRAP BAD. Needless to say, I've restarted the game a few times lately as the reality of the harshness of the zee has dawned on me.

Basically, if you have an appreciation for story, this game is (name an addictive substance). If you're like me, you'll lose yourself in it and you'll love every minute of it and you'll chortle whenever someone talks about wells and you'll wake up in the morning, look at the sun, and have a voice in the back of your head saying "REJECT THE DAWN MACHINE."

If you're like me, you'll love it so much you'll want to create a d20 campaign based on the universe, you'll want to get a tattoo of a letter of the Correspondance (Don't do this. Seriously. Bad things will happen.). You'll have dreams about the Sundered Sea (the wicket calls), of finally completing the Neathbow or of what lies north. You'll spend time explaining the impossible colours of the Neath as you use words like gant and viric in daily conversation. You'll talk about Maybe's Daughter or the Brisk Campaigner or the Haunted Doctor or even Phoebe and speak of the conversations you've had with each of them over dinner, because you know what brought them to zee and you want to help them even if it means losing them in the process.

So, yes, highly recommended. Lose yourself in this game. The world is amazing. I've never been so proud to have spent so much time with a game.
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93 of 102 people (91%) found this review helpful
3 people found this review funny
27.5 hrs on record
Posted: February 6
A great game--refreshing and different enough that I'm compelled to write my first review. I've done sort of headings in caps, to guide you through. It's thematic.

NOT A ROGUE-LIKE

First up, let me say: I think terming it a rogue-like is misleading. "Rogue-like" (to me) implies a game with randomness and a subsequent emphasis on improvisation at its core, whereas SS is really about storytelling and (perhaps most of all) atmosphere. I love rogue-likes (Spelunky and FTL, for instance, are tops), but that's not really what this is. AFAIK, the only randomness is the placement of the islands. Also, I think if anyone ever creates a good random story generator they will become insanely rich.

REALLY WHAT THIS IS

I'd say SS is really a throwback to games like Elite or, more closely, something like (fire up Google) Star Saga--games all about exploration and what-happens-when-I-do-this. It's basically a great world and story on drip-feed, whereby the text-based interactions (and, dare I say, the real fun and excitement) are spread out by the forced need to sail the sea (sorry, Zee) and get the resources necessary to progress.

BUT I DO LIKE THE ZEE

Having said that, I'm more than happy to be forced to sail the sea. The graphics and the (especially excellent) soundtrack create a cracking atmosphere, and I find myself getting sucked in to the sense of romance and horror, of threat and adventure, even though after my initial explorations I'm basically just pointing my ship at the next port and sitting back as it chugs slowly along.

HOWEVER...

However, this is where I foresee some people getting frustrated. There's not much "game" to the sailing, not really. Combat is basic, and usually unnecessary. All the enemies I've encountered can be trivially avoided, and going from port to port is, as I mentioned, quite slow (although you can upgrade engines/change ships eventually). But having said that, I really enjoy planning out my routes--working out where to restock on fuel/supplies, thinking how I'll manage terror and cargo space--it really adds to the sense of being a true Zailor.

VERDICT

Like I said at the top, it's great. But it's not a challenging game. People complaining about grinding are doing it wrong, IMHO. Go, strike out, explore the darkness! Take some risky decisions! I did, and look at me now.

FOR THE RECORD

So you know: I'm on my second captain; I have uncovered basically the entire map; I am still in the starting ship with its starting engines.
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110 of 133 people (83%) found this review helpful
1 person found this review funny
71.5 hrs on record
Posted: February 6
things to love:
- roguelike
- cannibalism
- great soundtrack for real
- gameplay options! wanna kill everything? check. wanna sneak past enemies? go for it.
- relatedly, choose what stats you build
- ruin yourself and your crew in service of your deep, insatiable, inexplicible hunger
- many story options, pick your own adventure
- get rich or die trying
- so that your kid can do the same
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71 of 78 people (91%) found this review helpful
6 people found this review funny
250.7 hrs on record
Posted: February 6
Early Access Review
Yes, the game isn’t easy, and yes, you’re likely to die on your first few captains, but that’s a part of the game, it’s not just getting straight in and winning on the first try, but just as there’s respawning for most games, so there is for this, it just happens that rather than reappearing in the same place and getting straight back into the fight, you end up starting again with the legacy left you by the previous captain, allowing you to build a history of what your various characters have achieved. Some things that previous captains had (crew, weapons, money) can be left to new captains and for many, it’s getting your head around the idea that death isn’t going to be the end of it for the game, but a new beginning.

What I love about this game is the mass of narrative within it, the different stories (of which there are hundreds) and the ways in which you can travel this world for days (literally) without losing interest in searching and finding new things, I've got more than 200 hours on this and I'm still finding things that I've never seen before, and I expect that I'll still be finding them 200 more hours from now.

I’ve been playing this since before it hit steam, and so my perspective isn’t that of a person who’s just picked the game up, and while the initial difficulty will put many off the game, persevere, because the rich and detailed content that’s in the game will only become apparent when you’ve given it some time, and the things you learn from the other captains that have perished before you will stand you in good stead when it comes to starting again. When you know where to find Lorn Flukes and Mount Nomad, when seven colours aren’t just myths to you, and when the Principles of Coral have yielded to you, then and only then will you see the promise of the game.

And if you need a hand with anything, come to the forums, I’m Rocket Heeled Jack, dead many times and always back for more...
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69 of 81 people (85%) found this review helpful
1 person found this review funny
109.2 hrs on record
Posted: December 29, 2014
Early Access Review
If I had to distill Sunless Sea down to three simple words, then I say without equivocation that these words are cruelty, terror, and despair.

These words are woven within a simple 2-D representation of a prison of steel gliding upon the green placid waters of a Lovecraftian Netherworld where a Fallen Steampunk variant of Victorian London was literally torn from the Surface world and banished to the realm of the Underzee - a cold subterranean twilight realm scarcely more than a short ocean voyage away from the outer reaches of Hell.

The Unterzee is a very strange place dotted with many dangerous rocky islands literally seething with otherworldly creatures, twisted caricatures of men and women warped by a variety of strange and incomprehensible alien beings far beyond the bounds of human comprehension, and all those unfortunates long since driven half-mad by the grim sunless echoes of a vast and alien sunless sea.

Life in this underground dimensionally warped Victorian-esque steam-punk world over a mile beneath the ground is fatalistically grim since Life on the Unterzee is almost certain to be brutally short for the Captain of your little tramp steamer and its crew.

If you fail to carefully husband your scant resources and utilize both luck and measured aggression in equal measure then your character will die and die horribly...and thats still assuming the gods in the sea favor you. If they do not...well...

Death in Sunless Sea is a kindness often sought but seldom truly found since this horseman of the apocalypse simply grants you the player a chance to choose a successor who will follow in your ill-omened former alter-ego footsteps as he/she/it sets sail into the eternal twilight of this otherworldly nightmare in pursuit of his/hers/its life-long Ambition.

Making your character's dream come true is a long-term goal that is almost - but not quite - out of reach for your Captain given that your Captain's only chance of surviving long enough to fulfill this Ambition rests on you sucessfully utilizing every tool at your disposal...and perhaps by seeking the favors of Fate herself?

As might be imagined from a Lovecraftian game like this one, the story in Sunless Sea is one that slowly unfolds and expands as you play provided you possess a fair degree of luck, perserverance, and patience along with a desire to seek out and plumb the hidden recesses of this very dark, alien, and mysterious subterranean world that is the Neath.

One of the most important tasks for you to perform right from the start is gather up enough Echoes (aka. “Money”) to explore this realm in pursuit of your Captain's goals. To that end, you may find yourself eagerly ferrying large quantities of sphinx-stones from the Weeping Sea Lions, hunting pirates to lay claim to their ill-gotten gains, harvesting a variety of Sea Monsters for their squishy valuables (once you have 'persuaded' them to part from their fleshy coils where such goodies are kept first, of course), or even find yourself doing something as dull and prosaic as delivering lots of mushroom wine kegs to the alcoholic monks of Godfall.

All of this early-game patience may net you enough hard-won lucre to start investing in and enhancing your vessel by upgrading its various steampunky equipment in your ship's station compartments not to mention win you the coin necessary to recruit over time your ship's eclectic and diverse mix of ship officers who more often than not have their own stories to share over dinner in your Captain’s quarters and who may give even more direction to your various encounters as you explore the rocky islands of the Neath.

Oh, and rest secure in the knowledge that no-one is coming to save you from the always fatal consequences that occur when you invariably run out of the fuel or the supplies needed to continue Zailing.

Finally, do try to remember that the Sea Monsters native to this dark Cthuloid nightmare are drawn to the bright lights cast by your ship's single gas-lit array whose actinic glare is often all that holds back the Black Terror and Inky Madness of the Unterzee as it poisons and slowly consumes the minds of your Captain and crew...one delicious morsel of sanity at a time.

Are you the Master of your Mind?
Are you the Captain of your Soul?
Let’s find out!
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99 of 127 people (78%) found this review helpful
1 person found this review funny
39.4 hrs on record
Posted: February 12
This game has amazing mood. It's got great writing. The idea of trawling a black, underground ocean is compelling and fascinating. But I can't recommend it. Why?

The actual gameplay is boring, repetitive, and simple. You will be doing the same routes repeatedly for tiny profit margins for hours until you can afford the most minor of upgrades. I have to impress the hours part. Unless you look at the wiki for money exploits, you will spend literally hours trawling back and forth in a very slow ship. You won't be in a ton of danger unless you didn't buy enough food or fuel.

In short, if you've been tempted in by comparisons to FTL, turn around now. This game is not a fast paced roguelike ship sim like FTL. If I had to compare it to any game, I'd probably pick Ambrosia's Escape Velocity (1996), which had a similar slow burn price for entry.

Anyway, if you heard all that and you still want in: welcome to the club, it's moody and interesting. I just feel like players entering this game are being done a disservice by comparisons to other roguelikes, like FTL, when it is nothing of the sort.
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