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 (1,594 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 (40)

August 14

Startup and connection issues: FIXED!

Sorry, all - we know that as of yesterday, a lot of new purchasers are seeing issues with a grey screen on startup. As of today, everyone is now seeing a 'Can't Connect' message for the Get New Stories button - which is a bigger problem, because Get New Stories was a workaround for the first issue.

We put out a patch yesterday, and also did some server migration work yesterday / today - this has caused two separate issues which are colliding in a nasty way.

We are working to fix this right now. Really sorry for the trouble. We're happy for you to request refunds from Steam in the meantime (even if you repurchase the game later).

9 comments Read more

August 13

Modding made easier!

It is now much easier to mod Sunless Sea!

We've added a new directory called 'addon' to your game, which will give you a safe place to store modded files where they will not be overwritten by game updates.

Today's changes will also enable us to add DLC to Sunless Sea (beyond new stories). It's our first step toward preparing the core game for Zubmariner's arrival.

You'll hear news of a release date for Zubmariner here first!

We've shared some simple modding guidelines in the discussion forums, and we're looking forward to seeing what you come up with!

15 comments Read more


“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


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

Mac OS X
    • 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
196 of 220 people (89%) found this review helpful
1 person found this review funny
29.3 hrs on record
Posted: April 2
After sailing around for an hour or so, killing some huge crabs and collecting some reports from new islands I had discovered, I was running low on fuel and supplies. The game reminded me of this with a prompt titled "Desperate Measures," so I was left with little choices on the matter.

I tried to use my last two boxes of supplies in a vain attempt to desperately scrape together some fuel so I could reach the port of Fallen London -- I failed. Now I was faced with the problem of starvation, on top of the whole fuel fiasco.

Fear was setting in, as was hunger, fuel was low, as was hope, so I decided to beseech the gods of the Unter-Zee for help, and help they did. I was, for lack of a better word, teleported to some kind of temple dedicated to the gods, and that was where things went from bad to worse.

This temple couldn't be further away from Fallen London, and therefore aid, than I could have gotten on my own. So I decided to beseech the gods again, this time my pleading went unanswered, a cruel cold-shoulder delivered to an ingrateful neophyte. The only purpose my inane begging to a higher power served was to unsettle my crew and drive us all to the brink of sanity.

So I abandoned ship and we all died, lol. 11/10.
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171 of 214 people (80%) found this review helpful
54.1 hrs on record
Posted: March 5
It is quite something that, while I think it is one of the most original and interesting game releases around, I have to recommend against it.

Sunless Sea, as a story to be unraveled and explored, it is fantastic. It packs a great amount of literary content (and I do mean by "literary" given how many words this has), solid worldbuilding and the constant feeling of "there is much more in the background", thanks to how the lore is revealed to you: snippets, fragments and bits that by themselves may seem quirky, odd or totally alien, but as you go around and learn, a bigger picture starts to form. Exploring the mysteries of the Neath and the Unterzee while avoiding whatever unknown terror of the depths, the dread of hunger, the lack of critical fuel or even the very wrath of strange gods is atmospheric , to say the least.

If only this was an interactive fiction, though.

Sunless Sea, however, is a game. While story and ambience are clearly paramount in this, the "game" part is, well, not good enough. Since you need to engage with the game in order to explore the story, it suffers due to bad gameplay: once the novelty is gone, you will be instinctively drawn to keep your beaten old steamer around the familiar routes of Fallen London and try to grind some measure of resources to make sure you can survive your next journeys. Sunless Sea makes very clear, from the beginning, that it wants you to take chances and explore - but when you have lost a few captains and you are generally aware of how things work, you realize how woefully lacking is the earliest part of the game and how much of a slog it is to make a modicum of improvement.

(This doesn't get any better even after that.)

Which brings to the problem. The game's economy is focused on the three critical resources: hunger, fuel and terror. Managing all three may seem like a juggler's act, but a few tries here and there will give you the hang of things. Echoes, the currency proper, is the solution to the balancing act. You can afford a better engine, which makes journeys faster; better weapons, which makes you able to fight whatever the zee throws at you; a better ship, which makes everything more useful. Because of that, players quickly realize that they need cash early on to overcome the slog.

And, of course, you start to grind. Because you are grinding, you are not exploring. Because you are not exploring, the game loses its charm and effect FAST. But you need to cash in order to explore without being an awful drag. Of course, given how things work and the very orientation Failbetter wants for Sunless Sea, they quickly took care of the means to make money that were seen as "gamey" (see "The Sunlight Trade" if you are curious).

Sunless Sea is very original and has a lot of entertaining stuff, packed to the brim with lore of their setting (which comes from Fallen London) and the siren's call of a big, unknown Unterzee beckons and dares you to explore all of it. However, the sluggish, dragging-by-its-feet gameplay, an extremely repetitive early game (again: once the novelty wears off) that quickly becomes plain boring and a lack of alternative means to allow its players to just succeed means that is not for everyone.
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65 of 71 people (92%) found this review helpful
30.9 hrs on record
Posted: April 8
I know exactly why I love this game, and it mostly just boils down to stoking imagination. If I had to take a step back and think about the bigger picture, I would attribute that success to these qualities:

Text placed along single pictures that barely represent a person or place, letting our minds fill in the rest
Areas with names but no descriptions (essentially places with no point but infinite possibility)
Choose your own adventure style questions with no backsies, many posed through actual dialogue
No main story, everything is tertiary and yet also essential
An in-game presence so that each journey still feels substantial, weighted appropriately by time and risk

I have never been so smitten with a game, and if the above traits are not enough to make that point, consider that it also manages to blend meaningfully rich text with brilliantly haunting music in a setting that oozes inspiration. Give the game time to sink into your bones. It's worth it!
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87 of 123 people (71%) found this review helpful
1 person found this review funny
2.4 hrs on record
Posted: April 4
Luke or Han?

A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away, (or more accurately, about 30 years ago right here on Earth) there was a burning question being asked in playgrounds across the lands.

Would you rather be Han Solo or Luke Skywalker?

This wasn’t a question to be answered lightly; there were pros and cons to both choices.

Use the Force?

Luke was a Jedi Knight, you’d get to use the force, and you’d get a light sabre!

On the downside, Darth Vader was your dad and you just couldn’t get away from the fact that Mark Hamil came across as a little bit... well... dorkish.

Go Solo?

As Han Solo, you’d get to be captain of the Millennium Falcon, the fastest ship in the Galaxy and you’d get the girl (a princess to boot!)

No Jedi mind tricks and bouncing people around with the force for Han though and although a blaster is cool; it’s just not a light sabre.

Rouge Like

After much deliberation, I’d choose Han Solo, the anti-hero with a heart of gold.
He might not have been a Jedi, but he was a Captain and more importantly, he was cooler than Luke, He was a rogue!

So I’d established pretty early on in life that I fancied myself as a rouge like captain, exploring the darkness in my ship, maybe doing a little smuggling and helping a person or two along the way.

Call It Fate, Karma or Luck

Whatever you want to call it, I’ve finally found my niche in a very unexpected place.

I’m a captain; I’ve got my own ship (and crew!) and I can head out on adventures across the darkness, but it’s not the darkness of space, it’s the inky blackness of the sunless sea where you’ll find me, a speck of light leading my ship into the unknown, each voyage might be my last, who knows what treasures or dangers lie ahead.

It’s this sense of exploration, of shaking off the shackles of civilization and waving goodbye to the safety of port that makes Sunless Seas so alluring.

Free Fall

You’ll start the game in what’s left of Victorian London, I say "what's left of" because following a cataclysm of hellish proportions, London now rests on the shore of the Unterzee, that dark ocean under the world. Hell is close, immortality is cheap and the screaming has largely stopped...

If you'd like to explore this wonderfully gothic setting before taking the plunge into the Sunless Sea, then you can, for FREE!

Fallen London, the literary RPG and pre-curser to Sunless Sea, is a free (and also very excellent) browser game where every choice has a consequence.

Set in this same Victorian Gothic world, Sunless Sea gives you the chance to explore beyond the boundaries of Fallen London and out into the dark and forbidding Unterzee.

Shallow Waters

When you first fire up the game, you'll find yourself at the "Captain Creation Screen" although don't go expected a crunchy RPG level of stats and traits here. This is a bare bones affair and one which you can skip completely if you like (although this will also be reflected in your game experience...).

After quickly creating a Captain with the briefest of bespoke back story, you’ll buy your provisions, recruit your crew, wave goodbye the glowing port lights and set sail into the depths of darkness.
Here you’ll find treasures to satiate the sole and terrors to drive a man to despair, here you’ll find death.

But before death takes you, you’re going to be in for an interesting ride.

Captain Birds-Eye

The game itself takes place from a bird’s eye view of the map, you’ll sail your ship out into the unknown where you’ll discover foul monsters, foreboding islands and forbidden ports.

When you encounter a Zee Monster you'll could well end up in a battle to the death, but this isn't nearly as exciting as it sounds.
The combat mechanics are certainly the weakest part of the game, you'll fire at the monster, wait for the guns to reload and fire again, over and over until one of you is dead.
You can upgrade your guns in port to add a little more depth but it's still an extremely simple and lack lustre affair.

Don't Forget To Pack

There's also some simple but vital resource mechanics at play here.

You’ll need to worry about fuel and food supplies when you leave the safety of London, run out of fuel and your ship will be stranded, floating in the darkness until madness finally takes hold... maybe.

Run out of food and you and your crew will starve, although there is meat on the crews bones, it’d be selfish to let it go to waste when it could sustain others...

Remember to Write

Beyond this basic resource management aspect, this experience is all about narrative and what wonderfully written and atmospheric narrative it is too.

Each Island and port reveals its own secrets, its own story fragments and its own harrowing decisions to make. Each and every one of those decisions will impact what comes next.

You might get to recruit a new officer for your crew, who’ll likely have their own back story and agenda; you might end up dining with some mysterious sisters or bargaining for your very soul.

The quality of writing here is superb, but be warned, you’re going to be doing a lot of reading in this game.

1000 Words Paint A Wonderful Picture

All aspects of the story are delivered to you in constant blocks of narrative. You should approach this title as more interactive novel than game. If the sound of all that reading puts you off then this probably isn’t the game for you, but you will be passing up on a rough gem.

Don't Fear The Reaper

As a rogue like title, no matter how cautious you are, your first captain will die.

Then you will find yourself back in Fallen London creating your second captain, again with his ambitions and background story and maybe he’ll even have benefited in some way from your first captains adventures.

The Zame but Different

You’ll set sail across the unterzee again.

As you move out, you might feel disheartened that you’ve lost nearly everything and you have to experience the same story elements again, but you’ll soon discover that the island you’d set sail for, the one that Captain number one had discovered is no longer there, just empty “zee” awaits you.

Cruel Zee

Did you bring enough fuel to get back to port from here? You could push on and try to find another island, maybe you could turn back to London.... you need fuel to keep your ship light burning too, maybe you could stretch out your reserves by turning it off.... it’s so dark out there though.... the crews terror levels are rising... Could you risk insanity in the darkness?

The Calling of the Zee

As a rogue like title, no matter how cautious you are, your second captain will die and you will find yourself back in Fallen London....

You get the idea, each time you start fresh with a new captain the world shifts around you, you can’t expect Islands to be found where your previous captain left them.

Different Tides

Whilst it’s true that the core elements of the narrative will remain the same, each decision you make will have an impact on what will follow.
Choosing a different narrative branch will give you a different perspective on fragment of the tale you’ve previously played through help keeping things fresh and adding further depth to the experience.

Fresh Waters

There’s a lot to explore out there too, you’re not going to run out of content too quickly, that’s not to say that there won’t come a time when you’ve experienced everything sunless sea has to offer, but that’s true of all games and in sunless seas case new content is still being added, so even if you think you’ve .... [snip]

For the full review and others please take the time to visit http://www.review-well.com
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40 of 50 people (80%) found this review helpful
18.9 hrs on record
Posted: March 11
I found the overall visual design effective at evoking an eerie mood. The choice of muted greens and grays works to make the rays of lights (whether cast by your ship or emitted from various lighthouses) pop. Cruising in the dark of the Sunless Sea builds a sense of dread and mystery which is appropriate to the theme of the game.

Furthermore, the music, while infrequent, punctuates the mood and builds tension. The spare sound effects, the lapping of the water and the distant ringing of buoys create a soundscape on which your journey unfolds.

Much of the game takes place in a text window that is inexplicably tiny and stuck to the bottom of the screen. The prose comes in relatively short and disgestible tid-bits, so while much of the game is reading the stories you come across in your voyage, I didn't feel overwhelmed with a wall (or in this case a yard sign) of text at any point.

The stories themselves are full of mishmashed details and themes, making them far more colorful and dynamic than the graphics of the Sea itself. To me, the highpoint of the game was in unravelling these stories, bringing in various objects discovered along the way to open up new options. Leaving port and returning after a brief delay will advance the stories, so in this way, one can plan a route to satisfy different story requirements and continue to push back the fog of unexplored areas.

The game describes itself as a Rogue-like, which is partly true, in that some of the islands appear in different locations on each playthrough and there are some that may not be present at all. However, the area around London (the starting port) is always the same and this expanse of sameness can make the Rogue-like description seem like a fib. Death is easy when first learning the game, as it is in many Rogue-likes, so sailing through the same staring area again and again becomes tedious.

This leads to the first of my two major objections to the game, each shortcoming reinforcing the other.

1) Travel is at a decidedly deliberate pace. While this initially worked to make me savor exploration, as well as building a sense of anticipation or dread as I advanced through a game, the thought of sailing past the same islands that I'd already been to several times in hopes of discovering something new seemed more like a chore and less like fun.

Before I stopped playing the game altogether, I'd plan out a route and make a loop, visiting some familiar places for resources or to advance a story and (hopefully) uncovering something new on the map. When I'd first began playing, I'd make three or four of these voyages before logging off (Assuming I didn't die). But the thought of just sitting for several minutes at a time, waiting for something to happen made me think I'd be better served quitting and loading up something faster paced after a few play sessions like this.

Until you've figured out combat (my second objection), it is very easy to wind up dead and have to restart and travel laboriously through regions that are largely unchanged from one game to the next. This makes for far too much travel time for my taste.

2) Combat is horrible.

Okay, I'll write a little more on this.

The various monsters and pirate ships are imaginatively and effectively rendered in the game. Many of them, however, have a ridiculous number of hit points compared to the damage of any weapon that you will acquire before half the map is explored. That's a lot of traveling and, hence, a lot of game time.

To make things worse, the sound effects of the cannons are repetitious and obnoxious. When you're fighting a Lifeberg (an enemy that is easily encountered on your first voyage) that has 400 hit points and you're doing 15-20 every shot... not only does the same cannon fire sound grate on the ears, but the combat itself becomes a grind.

While there are a very few enemies that seem to be balanced around your starting equipment, it is easy to run into foes that are far stronger. When you add in the very slow rate of resource accrual, it's not hard to wind up behind the firepower curve. When first playing, this can result in many deaths, which equal restarts, which means more tediously slow sailing through regions you know by heart.

Of course, you can avoid most of the fights, but giving foes wide, languid births results in, wait-for-it, even more monotonous, paint-drying travel.

The foes do, however, break into two types, ones that fires cannon blasts and the other being monsters that simply charge at you. Both of these types can be easily defeated by simply getting right behind them and staying there, shooting and shooting and shooting and... well, you get the point.

Some may describe this sticking to the rear of foes as strategy, but this works with just about everything, is boring and feels like an exploit. However, when stuck with limited resources (food and fuel) and poor weapons, this may be the only choice available.

I really wanted to like Sunless Sea. I hung in because I liked the imaginatively written stories, the murky graphics and the moody sounds, but the molasses slow travel and the totally broken combat forced me to abandon ship. Maybe if this game had spent a little more time in drydock, having it's combat system scrapped altogether or entirely rebuilt and travel sped up above senior citizen meandering, then I'd probably be playing the thing rather than writing this disappointed review.
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