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 (1,014 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

10 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
20 of 25 people (80%) found this review helpful
3 people found this review funny
54.2 hrs on record
Posted: February 20
Sunless Sea is a Lovecraftian epic. It is poetry in motion. It is...difficult to explain.

With an eerie backdrop of an underground sea, mysterious sea monsters, pirates, and ominous signs of a growing evil, Sunless Sea drags you in and drops you down into the depths of a beautiful yet disturbing world. All this is put to a backdrop of a great soundtrack which haunts your waking dreams. Ever since the full release of this game it has haunted me. It is not a horror-themed gamed, rather it is simply a disturbing tale. The story itself echoes that of Joseph Conrad's 'Heart of Darkness' and ironically the devs put a quote from the writer in the opening loading sequence.

The game itself involves a lot of reading, and so if you aren't a fan of reading, you might consider watching a broadcast first. But the lore and mythos behind this gem of a game is the best part. It is considered the sequel to the online text-based game Fallen London. What is the story of the main character? What does he want? What will he do to get what he wants?....Well that's up to you. This game is one of my personal favorites, which I ended up following from it's Early Access Opening to it's Official Launch. It is oddly addicting and hard to describe. But Lovecraftian sums it all up in a nice package with a bow on top.

Pros:
- One of the most original stories that I have ever seen in a video game. It is mostly text-based, but this adds to the spookiness, as you're left with your own imagination to picture the things you've seen in the Neath.
- Beautiful, Indie style graphics that mezmorize at some points
- A Challenge. It is difficult, but the more you die, the more you progress.
- Amazing soundtrack that adds to the tension and feeling of naval exploration.
- Interesting and highly original characters.
- Interesting fighitng system (It has changing several times since its inception)
- "Merciful Mode" allows for an easier play, allowing the player to save manually. When you first start a new game, "Merciful Mode" will be turned off. This makes a nice, difficult game for those of you who think they can hack it. mmmmm
- Choose your fate...everything you do, results in something else, good or evil.

Cons:
- The ship you use in the beginning drags along a bit. Until your first upgrades, it is very slow and therefore makes the game seem slow.
- Your character tends to die often, forcing you to repeat your predecessor's actions (Unless you can grant a will)
- There isn't a soundtrack that comes with it. I really like the OST.
- The Dawn Machine.

Verdict?

8/10 - Sunless Sea is an incredible experience. If you enjoy reading, especially Lovecraft, Poe, Barker, or anything of the horror-suspence genre, you will love this game. The obsurdity, terror, and tension you will feel in this game is pretty incredible. You will also be forced to make dozens of decisions which will affect your game and character. Think on it before you buy. Do you like to read? Yes? Buy. No? Probably not your cup of tea. I also highly recommend to those who are open minded about video games.
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11 of 13 people (85%) found this review helpful
104.8 hrs on record
Posted: February 22
Ultimately Sunless Sea is a potentially amazing game if you like rich narrative worlds and don't mind reading a lot . . . but you should either wait a bit after release and/or take long breaks between when you play because it's not where it needs to be yet.

Why?

Because of the way the game is being developed. Failbetter Game's previous effort, Fallen London (which this game shares the same universe with) has grown massively over time, and so has Sunless Sea. But right now shortly after release, Sunless Sea is a bit sparse. And it's got a lot of issues that need resolving.

The first big issue is the combat, which is very basic at the moment. It works, and it's exciting and dangerous at first, but once you play for a while it becomes very dull and simple save for a few specific "boss" monsters, and even then it's just simple and dangerous. A lot of new AI and balancing is going to be needed before it gets interesting.

Another big issue is size and speed. Your starter ship is almost unbearably slow and at first the world seems vast, but once you get past the (HUGE) initial difficulty wall, upgrading to better ships and engines with a fully explored map reveals that the world actually isn't all that large. More a lake than a sea. Honestly, the game would be better served if the map size were scaled up 15% and all of the engines moved about 10% faster than they currently do. Then at least you'd feel like you were moving, and the world would feel a appropriately large.

The next (and really the biggest) issue is replayability. The game offers a lot of good story content in it, and this content is fixed. However the world is intentionally very harsh and you're bound to die a lot early on thanks to that big initial difficulty wall. These two facts result in a major problem where the narrative content ends up directly at odds with the death and respawn "legacy" mechanics.

Namely: you're going to end up re-reading (more likely skipping through) lots of stuff you've already read before. Finding out about a character's past or an island's secret is really cool the first time, finding out about it the fifth time? No so much. There is currently no mechanic - and certainly not enough content - in place so that the different lives you start encounter notably different story experiences in the game, which would be the obvious solution to this problem.

However, looking at how Fallen London has grown, and some of the systems already in place in Sunless Sea, I feel it's safe to assume that as time goes on more stories and content are going to continually get added in. There's already a pretty big expansion planned, and been a steady drip of new stories over the last month. They even just added a new alternate method to end your current game, so it's not like these are minor updates.

Essentially, what you're likely to not realize (I certainly didn't) when buying Sunless Sea is that this is more a single player MMO that's half Naval Elite/Sid Meier's Pirates and half Victorian/Lovecraftian Adventure gaming. Knowing that is probably more key to whether or not you should purchase it than anything.

This game is currently strong, but threadbare after you spend some time with it. In a few months? I'm guessing it's going to feel much fuller and robust. In a year? It might actually live up to the immense potential it has.

Take that as you will, and certainly, if you're not the type to trust that a game will reach it's full potential in time or don't like that development model, hold off. But I'd encourage you to check back later when it's gotten a bunch of new content.

For myself, I've found more than enough so far to justify the purchase, and have enjoyed the vast majority of my time with the game. The promise of more to come is just a bonus.
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9 of 11 people (82%) found this review helpful
2 people found this review funny
31.7 hrs on record
Posted: February 22
So you are looking at the video and screenshots of this game and probably thinking, why the hype? It looks fairly limited? Well on the back of some really high octane/adrenaline fuelled games I've been playing of late - I have to say what a breath of fresh air this game is. Its at the polar opposite end of the spectrum, this game is one of the most relaxing and chilled out experiences I have experienced in 20 years of gaming.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KkIjlx9GUGg

The game sees you navigating a small cargo ship through the murky waters of the zee (formerly the sea before it sunk beneath the world itself) and it gently works its way into your mind with its beautifully written stories, its wonderfully designed art work and its incredibly unique sense of atmosphere and mystery.

Its based around resource management with some pretty basic combat at its core, and while the combat is quite linear I honestly don't feel it detracts too much from the game. You have a crew of zailors and officers who are subjected to fear, terror, hunger and all sorts of nastiness. Terror especially can play havoc with your crew, the longer you spend out at zee the higher it goes and this increases at a variety of rates depending on how perilous the surroundings seem to be. However the absolute backbone of this game comes within its writing, each port will have stories, news, pieces of information and points of interest - some of which is just for entertainment purposes, but others actually drive the game / quest forward for you. There are endless opportunities to be had in this game, the majority of the map is randomly generated and every single play through is different.

Check out the video if you want a flavour of what I'm talking about.
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17 of 28 people (61%) found this review helpful
5 people found this review funny
24.8 hrs on record
Posted: February 21
the most powerful graphics engine is imagination
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3 of 3 people (100%) found this review helpful
22.8 hrs on record
Posted: February 26
Contemplative, clever and affecting
Sunless Sea is first and foremost about its writing. It's what you come here for. Everything from the short snippets of the daily life aboard your Zee-steamer that show up in your logbook, to the stories you find on the Unterzee's numerous islands, is insanely well written. This a world with depth (pun intended), novelty and beautifully realised characters and locales. The gameplay itself, at least outside of combat, moves at a steady and relaxed pace, but the undercurrent of tension is always present. At any time, you have five resources to manage: Your hull (ship's health), fuel, supplies, crew and terror. Lose too many crewmen, or see everyone on your ship go mad with terror, and it's usually the end of your journey. But the game encourages you to take risk. Playing it safe staying in home waters, where the towns are sane and the worst you'll find can be taken out with three cannon shots, will soon leave you starved for the resources you need to survive at sea. No, the game demands you venture forth, into darkness and danger, into tension, risk and reward. When you inevitably die, it's not the end, though. Depending on your preparations, you're able to pass variable amounts of your skills and resources on to your successor, and then the game starts again, a new captain setting out from Fallen London, onto the deep, dark sea.
Everything about this game is thought through, and if you don't mind reading and playing a slower-paced game, you'll find a bounty of brilliant words and spine chilling tension in Sunless Sea.
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3 of 4 people (75%) found this review helpful
24.1 hrs on record
Posted: February 26
Neither the simplistic and grindy gameplay elements, nor the perma-death mechanics does many favours for this game. The stories and islands you'll discover might seem interesting and mysterious during your first run, but when my first captain died, and I discovered I had to go through the exact same events I had already done only to get back to the point in the story I was at on my first captain, It soured me a lot on the game.
It also does not help that the game is a grind extraordinaré, and exploration is often punishing if you are not properly prepared(which you usually need to grind supplies for). In addition, the combat is extremely simplistic, repetitive, and the AI can be easily exploited.

Seriously, this is a game that would have worked better as a Choose Your Own Adventure-game, as the gameplay elements add almost nothing of value.
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4 of 6 people (67%) found this review helpful
48.2 hrs on record
Posted: February 22
Enormously fun. The game relies on a blend of graphics and text that works surprisingly well, and the crafting of each element is clearly given full attention. The graphics are beautiful and perfectly suit the atmosphere constructed by the enormously clever, darkly funny prose. The music is outstanding.

And of course, due to the constant updating of stories and content, the replay value is unstoppable. Sixteen characters in, I'm still not bored.
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1 of 1 people (100%) found this review helpful
7.4 hrs on record
Posted: February 24
A dark and non linear exploration experience, Sunless Sea is quite addictive game. It contains amazing amount of detailed lore, separating it from most games under tag 'rogue like'. I enjoy the mechanics and the mixture of realism and abstract in story telling. I would recommend this game to anyone who enjoys games that challenge the player's imagination, most of all, to players who can see below the surface.
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1 of 1 people (100%) found this review helpful
14.4 hrs on record
Posted: February 24
The setting of this game is incredible. The writing, exquisite. Oh, the things you'll do. Nothing makes you feel a zee-captain quite like eating a chunk of your First Officer's flesh. Or making a sacrifice to the gods of the Zee. Smuggling sunlight to sell at the pirate ports. Trading stories of distant shores and tales of terror. Hunting the beasts that tower over the largest ships.

Now, the main problem with this game is the tedium. Gaining money in this game is a chore, trading between the ports yields very little profit, and the grind is essential and unavoidable. The enemy AI is terrible - it's really easy to abuse it, which in its own twisted way is helpful, considering how often you'll kill things in hopes of a decent drop.

TLDR: Every story in Sunless Sea is thrilling, witty and charming. But the game itself is tedious and slow-paced; if you can cope with that, you will absolutely love it.
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1 of 1 people (100%) found this review helpful
87.0 hrs on record
Posted: February 26
Okay, so, disclaimer: This game features a LOT of written text. Reading said text is 1/2 to 3/4ths of the gameplay. If you don't enjoy reading, this game isn't for you. Also, you can die in this game, and death can be a HUGE setback in progress (because while there are ways to mitigate it a little bit, death is permanent...time to start over). If those things don't bother you (or they are good qualities in a game, in your opinion), read on. Otherwise, this game isn't for you. Sorry.

Now that the disclaimer is out of the way, I just want to say, this game is insanely good. It's compelling in a way I haven't experienced for a long time. It's like sitting down with one of the most interesting, complex, well written books you'll ever find, and then getting to make all the decisions, fight in all the epic battles, etc etc etc.

You'll meet piRats and soul stealing monkeys and vicious scoundrels and squid men and zee beasts and cannibals and immortals and tiger people and face thieves and strange men from strange places where everything happens in the future tense. You'll fight on the sea, on the land, over treasure and power and the lives of your self and your crew. You'll find romance, long lost artifacts, gateways to other worlds, horrors man was not meant to know, and more adventure than you can shake a stick at. All this and more, coming at you in wonderfully written, beautifully presented prose that will sweep you away into a world at the border of insanity.

In terms of gameplay, it's a slower paced (which fits the world well), real time combat (although not twitch based combat), some random generation (so you're worlds different every time, to a degree), permadeath, stat driven rpg about exploration and investigation into a world of bizarre horrors, insanity, dark humor, and surprisingly human motivations.

At the end of the day, if you enjoy a good story (with choices that ACTUALLY matter), if you are the type of person who can fall in love with an imaginary world, if you like the idea of exploring into the black unknown, or if you just always wanted to be a zee captain, this is a game you won't regret purchasing. Remember, no one is born a zee captain, but anyone can be one, with the right motivation and a not-so-healthy dose of optimism. Come, zail the zee, it is calling your name.
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1 of 1 people (100%) found this review helpful
24.5 hrs on record
Posted: February 19
Sunless Sea is less of a game and more of an interactive story, what with the writing that can be described as some of the best I've read and a world that is interesting, deep and ever changing, which makes me come back to it over and over and over.

The gameplay is a bit... lacking, but the world more than makes up for it with a large amount of quests to do and goals to complete and a world filled with islands to explore.

While I do recommened this game, it does come with a bit of a problem, as some might find the lacking of gameplay and an over-abundance of story and reading a turn off of the game, but that hasn't stopped me from playing it.
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2 of 3 people (67%) found this review helpful
13.8 hrs on record
Posted: February 22
hard to get into at first but once you understand how to make some semblence of a sustainable economy for yourself with fuel and supplies youll be able to really explore the universe. i took the time to try out fallen london before starting sunless sea and was able to learn a bit about the universe, it was worthwhile for me but fallen london is insanely slow to play w/o paying. sunless sea, provides a fairly "realistic" experience in how you would have to survive in the universe of fallen london as a captain with a lot of scavenging for resources and trying to just get by. this game isnt for everyone but if you like fallen london, youll love this
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2 of 3 people (67%) found this review helpful
30.1 hrs on record
Posted: February 24
Pros:

+ Setting is superb. As strange and comically-sinister as it is, it's really easy to buy into it.
+ Writing is absolutely fantastic and is the heart and soul of the game.
+ Art is evocative, goes hand-in-hand with the prose style to create the game's unique atmosphere of wonder, whimsy, and dread.
+ As of the time of this review, new content is being added regularly (new stories), and an expansion is on the way.

Meh:

= While the writing is good, once you've read through certain quest texts, you will probably simply click on your usual option and skip over the text on subsequent playthroughs.
= It's a reader's game. If you prefer less text in your games, you might want to give this one a miss.
= You will find items, meet people, and have no idea how they will be relevant. Where do you sell what item? Personally, the trial-and-error nature of it all is an enjoyable part of the experience but it could easily annoy other players.

Cons:

- Early game is extremely, painfully repetitive. Since dying is so easy in this game, you have to restart and play the same quests in the same areas many many times.
- The combat is functional but not at all enjoyable. Most of the time, it's just a nuisance. I find myself simply relying on avoiding it because I can't be bothered.
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1 of 2 people (50%) found this review helpful
4.1 hrs on record
Posted: February 25
Beware: This game isn't for most people. I bought it upon a recommendation from a friend (don't worry, we're still friends) while simultaneously trying out the related browser based game "Fallen London". The gameplay looked kinda neat and relaxed, which was what I wanted at the time, and I liked the look of the graphics.

While I can't complain about the graphics, it's the gameplay that turns me off. While you are captaining a ship, this navigation aspect of the game is secondary to the text based gameplay which the game mainly consist of. There's tons of reading, and if you're the kind of guy that's used to quickly skim through texts while playing you shouldn't buy this game. I mean it, only buy this game if you got book worm tendencies (nothing negative about it) and this wonky kind of steampunk universe is appealing to you.

Sure, there's some fighting sea monsters going on, but that part is so simplified that it's just something you need to get over with. You need to manage your fuel/supply economy while navigating the sea but that's about it and it's just not very fun. Simply put, the game lacks complexity apart from the text based stories.

My recommendation is to try out fallen London first (it's free, google it), and if you like that type of game then you might wanna try out sunless sea. If you're like me however, and abadon your fallen london account after two days, then this game is a waste of your money.
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1,490 of 1,567 people (95%) found this review helpful
5 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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447 of 471 people (95%) 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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434 of 559 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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145 of 166 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 139 people (88%) found this review helpful
1 person found this review funny
109.3 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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92 of 100 people (92%) 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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