LOSE YOUR MIND. EAT YOUR CREW. Take the helm of your customised steamship and set sail for the unknown! Sunless Sea is a 2D game of discovery, survival and loneliness set in the award-winning Victorian Gothic universe of Fallen London.
User reviews: Very Positive (388 reviews)
Release Date: Jul 1, 2014

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Early Access Game

Get instant access and start playing; get involved with this game as it develops.

Note: This Early Access game may or may not change significantly over the course of development. If you are not excited to play this game in its current state, then you may want to wait until the game progresses further in development. Learn more

What the developers have to say:

Why Early Access?


This is a late beta with a huge amount of story content, waiting on more content, balancing changes and final polish. You can complete the game right now, but there are more stories popping every week. We have a road map here: http://www.failbettergames.com/sunlesssearoadmap/.

Sunless Sea is a game of exploration and discovery. We're providing a big world with a wealth of sights and stories out there for you to discover. It's the content that takes the time.”

How long will this game be in Early Access?

“Three to four months, with story updates weekly and major updates at least once a month. Here's our road map. The tl;dr version:

CORSAIR'S GOLD - our Steam Early Access release on 1st July. [COMPLETE!]

EMERALD - late July. [COMPLETE!]

STEEL - slated for release end September. A release focused primarily on the combat experience (including beastie AI and behaviour). [COMPLETE!]

CARNELIAN - slated for release late October. Officers integrated as crew, additional equipment, currents. The Promised Sea where the Fathomking holds court, and the South: Carnelian Coast and Dawn’s Edge.

SAPPHIRE - mid November. Neutral vessels, wandering phenomena. The East: Irem and the Pillared Sea, the Deconstruction, Saviour’s Rocks with the octomaran Tree of Ages. The most challenging form of victory.

DIAMOND - early December. Final release! Graphical upgrades, optimisations, and polish.”

How is the full version planned to differ from the Early Access version?

“The map will be larger. Story content will be correspondingly broader. Mechanics will be tuned and finalised, especially Legacies and combat.”

What is the current state of the Early Access version?

“Playable and completable; waiting on more islands and more stories. Our Kickstarter backers have been playing and enjoying it in closed beta for two months.”

Will the game be priced differently during and after Early Access?

“Same price , but if you purchase during Early Access we commit to lifetime access to any extra areas or DLC we provide. We're committed to at least one piece of DLC from the Kickstarter stretch goal - a submersible expansion.”

How are you planning on involving the Community in your development process?

“We monitor, respond to and implement suggestions via forums and via a dedicated support address. There's an active and friendly community already: dive in!”
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Recommended By Curators

"Far from finished, but its twisted adventures in a sunken world filled with unspeakable horrors, dark decisions and sublime words are not to be missed."
Read the full review here.

Recent updates View all (14)

October 21

Story update: 21st October

Hello, delicious captains!

Another nugget of story - you can now explore the Fathomking's Hold (and pay him to recover the Outcast, the Campaigner and the Magician if you were unfortunate enough to lose them.)

Late this week or early next week, you'll see the Saviour's Rocks story go live; Visage and the Isle of Cats will follow shortly after that.

We look forward, as ever, to your feedback!

0 comments Read more

October 15

New content: the Merchant Venturer

We've just put a knot of new stories live. The Merchant Venturer will appear in London, early in the game. He'll ask you to find some unorthodox materials... and he has a story of his own. Hit 'New Stories Available' to download him.

We don't post about every new content update, but we thought this one was worth mentioning because

- the Venturer makes it easier to find cash in the early and mid game
- with his help, it is *possible* to unlock a unique extra Legacy...


3 comments Read more
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“Sunless Sea takes the excellent writing and world-building of Fallen London, and injects it into a 2D exploration, trading and survival game. It’s Elite but with steamships instead of starships.”
Rock Paper Shotgun

“A wonderful prospect: a game of exploration, loneliness, risk, adventure and madness taking place across a vast subterranean ocean riddled with islands, with dangers, with dripping trophies of the deep.”

About This Game


Take the helm of your customised steamship and set sail for the unknown! Sunless Sea is a 2D game of discovery, survival and loneliness set in the award-winning Victorian Gothic universe of Fallen London. Will you succumb to madness and cannibalism on the black waters? Or return home triumphant with a hold full of precious loot?

Events can turn out differently every game - sometimes, even if you make the same choices. Will you lose your sweetheart to a curse? Redeem, betray or consume the Genial Magician? Sell your soul to the Wistful Deviless or spurn her advances? Is the Dawn Machine your salvation, or your doom?

You are the captain. It’s your call.

Key features

  • A deep, compelling world packed with secrets and stories
  • Beautiful, hand drawn 2D art
  • Light and dark. Stray too far from the gas-lamps of civilisation and your crew will grow fearful and eventually lose their sanity. But there is treasure out there in the darkness…
  • Real-time, pausable combat with dozens of different abilities
  • Leave a legacy! When you die (and you will) your next captain may choose to inherit a skill, a chart of discovered islands or a beloved officer.
  • Upgrade your steamship with powerful engines, flensing cannons, and pneumatic torpedo guns. Or just 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 from a menagerie of ship’s mascots: the Comatose Ferret, the Wretched Mog, the Elegiac Cockatoo, and more!
  • Trade silk and souls, mushroom wine and hallucinogenic honey...
  • Cross the wide black sea
  • Find your way home

System Requirements

    • 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
    • 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
1,233 of 1,322 people (93%) found this review helpful
9.4 hrs on record
Early Access Review
Captain's Log, Day 13. We haven't seen coast in nearly two weeks now, and the men are growing restless... what men I have left. Three have bailed ship since we left port. In vain we tried to retrieve them, further depleting our fuel. My one officer, a shifty surgeon, keeps his many secrets to himself. My mascot, a sickly ferret, just rolls his eyes at me. Great crabs circle menacingly and pirates grow bolder. And the reefs, like ghoulish skulls... they stare from great and empty sockets from the dark and swirling abyss, yawning their maws invitingly. “Come now captain,” they seem to grumble, “come now and sleep.” It is sorely tempting. The rum is getting to my head. I'll sleep now, I think.

“Sunless Sea” is essentially Early Access H.P. Lovecraft. You're presented with a rich alternative universe: Victorian London has sunk beneath the waves and the steampunk denizens of this new world set sail, seeking treasure and purpose only to find madness and horror. It's an RPG through and through, a classic one at that. You'll select your captain's silhouette, title, and backstory (OR MYSTERIOUS LACK OF A BACKSTORY) and set sail. Random events will occur at sea with chance outcomes. Do you take a risky action in the hopes of some gain, or do you play it safe? The combat is turn-based/tactical but... happening in real time? You can pause and choose your actions FTL-style or just go off the handle, selecting maneuvers, firing weapons, and illuminating your targets in the dark and treacherous waters. You'll travel to distant ports, selling souls for more fuel and supplies, upgrading your ship, and hiring new crew, all the while unraveling the secrets this strange world holds. And when you expire (or sleep that long and fitful sleep) you can carry discoveries or important crew to your next game.

It's very rewarding to explore, and the devs promise even further expansion. Landmarks will appear on your map and your journal will fill up quickly as you drift further and further out to sea... but always keep an eye on your supplies, fuel, hull health, and crew terror levels. It would be foolhardy to stray so far from home only to find yourself crazed, eating your crew as madness envelopes you like a malevolent blanket. Or a giant ♥♥♥♥ crab decides to slice your little ship in half, whatever comes to turn first (edit: there are no giant ♥♥♥♥ crabs, unfortunately. I use ♥♥♥♥ as a descriptor. Sorry!).

This is a fun game. A twisted romp through Cthulhu's sunken playground. Like with all Early Access stuff, you can wait if you're hesitant. But the developers have crafted a deep and fascinating game here and promise to update consistently. You can visit their website and see what they've done so far to help you make your decision.

If you're a fan of FTL, of Lovecraft, classic RPG elements, and roguelikes, then you'll enjoy “Sunless Sea.”

Now sleep. You've earned it.
Posted: July 1
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334 of 368 people (91%) found this review helpful
92.1 hrs on record
Early Access Review
This game is actually . . . a lot like Fallen London. It's almost more of an immensely well-written and beautifully-illustrated Choose Your Own Adventure novel than it is a traditional action game. There are definitely a lot of game elements, but the real draw is the writing and the artwork.

I haven't played many other similar games but it reminds me a lot of Darklands, actually, at least in that you're traveling over a great big area dotted with ports, and the story happens mostly through illustrated text blocks in those ports.

In terms of gameplay, you sail (well, steam) your little boat around and you can upgrade it with better engines, guns,etc., or upgrade to even fancier boats once you're zee-rich. There are lots of sea-monsters that travel at varying speeds and in specific areas and so you have to either fight them (using a combat interface with various timed attacks and dodges in a queue) or evade them by clever sailing (loop around them, angle so you go past them, outrun them if you have a fancy engine). You can make money by running missions and trading between ports and capturing pirate ships and selling off the exotic oddities you find in the gullets of slain sea-beasts.

On top of that, there's a light/dark/terror mechanic; shores are illuminated and there are lighthouses and lantern-buoys scattered around, but most of the sea is dark. When you're out in the dark your Terror rises, when you're in lit areas it doesn't. As your terror rises bad things start happening and at 100 Terror your crew mutinies and you have to pass a stat check or lose the game. You can lower Terror in towns with various options, but not (generally) while at sea. Net result is that travel is largely about scuttering from lighted point to lighted point and sticking close to shore, and minimizing long plunges into the dark (though such are necessary from time to time).

The game is a bit sedate to play -- you can pause to think at any time -- and they're still implementing a lot of the planned content and tweaking the balance. There's enough implemented that it's very much worth playing, though.

The real strength of the game is the writing and the artwork and the atmosphere; it's powerfully evocative, amusing and intriguing and chilling by turns, and just a pleasure to play. It's definitely not an action game, but it's an experience worth having.

edit: I should mention that I've mostly played the Humble Bundle version as until recently they hadn't fully set up patching through Steam. T
Posted: July 1
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759 of 938 people (81%) found this review helpful
6.0 hrs on record
Early Access Review
This is not a good game.

...Or at least, not yet.

I bought Sunless Sea because it reminded me of a very good comic called Leviathen and an RPG called Unhallowed Metropolis, which has some similar themes of unknowable horror in that sort of Victorian/Edwardian period.
The setting is very impressive, it is a fantastically rich world of Victorian London - spun through a dark mirror and dumped on the shores of a bleak and desolate ocean, where madness is your only companion. Which personally, sounds wicked!
I can definately see the sources it cites, the dark humour of Don't Starve, elements of the Cthulhu Mythos and it's atmosphere. All good stuff.
I've not played it, but I can see why the broswer game this is based off of, Fallen London, is such a big hit.

However. The game itself, which as I understand the progress updates is nearing completion, just isn't *fun* presently. You could perhaps argue that is the point of such a dark world, but let me point out a few things I take issue with...

1) Money making. Maybe it's the present patch, but it seems you can't trade anything with anyone. The only port I've found (Venderbight) that accepts goods in it's "shop" (all the others I have found just sell supplies and fuel for your ship and are not interested in trade goods) offer for the two goods you can sell either a paltry profit of two bucks, or 'Echos' or a loss of about 7 Echoes? At the moment, trade just doesn't seem worth it at all. Like, at all.
Even if you were to take a load of goods to Venderbight, you are coming back to London empty as there are no trade goods to buy. What the sense make?!

So the only other way of making money is doing survey missions (or hovering around the starting area capturing pirate ships for prize money), which is fine but often you'll find your profit margain getting wiped out by having to replace your fuel and crew used in the journey, as well as 'carousing' back at port.

In essence, it seems almost impossible to get any amount of money. Some two hours in and I'm still struggling to get more than a few hundred Echoes, with dreams of buying upgrades or a new boat a very, very long way off.
I appreciate it defeats the challenge if they just give you a pot of gold easily, but at the moment it's far too difficult and the grind for cash is painfully slow and not enjoyable - given the limited amount of ways you can make money.

2) Terror. What an excellent idea, as you sail the black ocean, darkness all around you, only the chug of the engine and the weak bloom of your headlamp lighting the way - the miasma of fear and paranoia starts to grip your crews minds... Bells in the distance.. Giant, squid eyes watching you from beneath the waves...
Again, all good stuff. The more terror you accure, the stranger things occur and eventually you go mad. However, given that you start at 0 and within the space of one trip (within the starting area where the terror affect is less) go up to about 50+ out of a 100! That's a big steep isn't it?! I thought these were hardened sea hands, not yellow bellied land-lubbers?!

The best way of avoiding a terror increase is planning your route so you sail through area light by bouys or remain very close to shore. Makes sense. But sometimes you have to find yourself sailing for about ten seconds in a dark area or drift a smidgen away from shore and your terror ROCKETS, I mean, it just flies up at a rate of knots!
Calm down lads, the shore is still on screen but.. - oh? Apparently that's not close enough. Even when a light ship or a bouy or land is clearly but a stone's throw from your ship your sailors still flip the f*ck out unless you are about a gnats testicle away before they calm down.
Having your own ships lights on doesn't seem to affect this very much, your terror goes up super fast regardless.

And the only ways to reduce terror are FANTASICALLY expensive. The 'best' way to reduce terror to a managble level is to return to London, where your terror is reset to 50 automatically (but you start to get nightmares), but to reduce it further you have to 'carouse' either in London or elsewhere. This costs between 40-20 echoes depending on where you are and reduces your terror from 1-5 points. Is that all?? That hardly seems cost effective given within a matter of SECONDS after leaving port you can accure those points back up again.

At the moment, you gain Terror far, far too quickly and it is much too difficult and expensive to reduce it.

3) Combat. Oh man, can you imagne! Sailing your steamer straight towards a giant Angler Crab or Lifeberg, screaming blood and thunder to your terrified crew as they struggle to bring their harpoons and deckguns to bear, shining your ships lamp straight into the beasts unblinking eye!!!!
Exciting stuff, except none of that happens here.

Combat for me so far, consists of trying to run away from an enemy I have no chance of beating (anything outside of the starting area, I am not kidding) as I have nowhere near enough money to buy better ships or equipment, fleeing into the nearest port, then having to leave port and being killed instantly by the monster who is still waiting for me. Game over.

The combat system consists of you or your opponent sailing into the other, where upon you are offerend the choice of fight or flight (or human sacrifice, neat!) and then combat consists of a picture of you, a picture of the enemy and an 'illumination' bar for each. You want to raise their bar as much as possible, whilst keeping your own bar low. Once it's high enough, you press the 'shoot' action and then hopefully they die.
But normally they don't and kill you instantly. The amount of enemies that can kill you in one hit is daft.
There's no dodging, no position, no tactics, no *skill*. Just press the 'flare' button twice, press the 'evade' button a few times, then press the 'salvo' button. And then repeat as necessary. Again, it's not... Fun.
There is an option to 'study' your foe in the midst of combat, but this has to be done several times and leaves you open to being annihilated.
Against the easier enemies, combat is a chore. Crabs, bats (who seem to swarm near Venderbight), starting pirates can all be mostly be killed in three actions which equates to 30-40 seconds of your life you'll never see again. It's not engaging, as someone who has played many a sailing combat game over the years, it's uninspired and not enjoyable. FTL did a similar system much better.

4) Death. It's a hard game, it's a slow game, it's a game with what appears to be a great deal in it. But as such, death comes fast and furious.
After 2-3 hours of not managing to get much of anywhere, I was still mighty ♥♥♥♥ed when my ship glitched aground and then.. Game over. Which is fine, I mean it's a roguelike and it's not meant to be easy... But when it takes you HOURS to get much of anywhere from the start and you can die so easily by hook or by crook, it's maddening to see all that hard work thrown away.
It's almost like having to do a lap of the Binding of Isaac, without any items - and at the end of the lap you get *one* item for the next lap. But as soon as you die, that's it. Whilst some masochists would love such a challenege, Joe Muggins here thinks that doesn't sound like fun.

The 'merciful' mode helps with regards to this, as you can save on the fly. But you can either play it safe and live a long but dull life, or try the dangerous game and die fairly rapidly and see all your hard, slow, progress of upping your skills and saving your money go to waste.
At least when you die you can save a skill for your next character.

5) Conclusion.
Sunless Sea is a fantastic idea for a fantastic game. However, IN THIS CURRENT VERSION it is not especially enjoyable to play IMHO.
If it does tickle your nautical fancy, my advise would be to wait until full release, as this may leave you with a sour, salty taste in your mouth.
Posted: July 3
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A developer has responded on Dec 31, 1969 @ 4:00pm
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170 of 203 people (84%) found this review helpful
6.6 hrs on record
Early Access Review
Music and Pictures and Words, oh my!

I've played this quite a bit on HumbleBundle, so my time played is 'somewhat' (exceedingly) out. If I start explaining exactly why I like this game so much, it'll turn into an incoherent rave, so I'll attempt to restrain myself and hope you get the gist.
It's dark, it's creepy, it's imaginative and it's beautiful in every possible way: the artwork is perfect, the music is good enough that you could happily background the game and sit listening while you do something else; but you wouldn't because the stories told are clever, funny, dark, sad, powerful. You're driven to explore as much (as much? Much much more!) for the tales revealed as for the generic gaming need to get all things/upgrade stuff.

I'm a bit rubbish and keep dying. And by dying - I mean I starve and eat my crew. Or get destroyed by crabs. Or a mountain. Or bats. Or other boats (how prosaic! {in comparison}). It can be moderately frustrating at first, but then 6 hours have disappeared in 20minutes and you have the knack but also missed several hours semi-vital sleep.

In short(ish) - it's in early access*, yet it's brilliant. It can only get better.

*People may want to check here: http://www.failbettergames.com/sunlesssearoadmap for how much of the overall game has been implemented into the latest build.
Posted: June 24
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162 of 222 people (73%) found this review helpful
0.7 hrs on record
Early Access Review
I played a press version of Sunless Sea for about 5 hours. Playing this game is crafting your character's story at each step you take. It reminds me of Heroes of Might and Magic where a decision could be the difference between failure and success. Despite the outcome, the story never stops being written. It also has some Don't Starve in it. It's rather difficult to remain alive and upgrading your ship while exploring the sea. Yes, ship, you will be navigating 90% of the time looking for secrets and ways to improve your skills/crew/ship and preventing terror that drives you mad. It's a solid adventure, looking forward to the updates.

- it's damn challenging
- play it your own way, become the captain of your choice
- the graphics give you this hand painted feeling
- there's just so many stories, riddles and secrets, I always find myself intrigued about everything

- the gazetteer (journal) is a mess, I get myself lost in it, there must be a better way to point out the active "missions"
- although I understand the game encourages you to just explore, I would like some more specific goals with more currency rewards, I struggled a lot to keep myself up
Posted: June 30
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