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 (423 reviews)
Release Date: Jul 1, 2014

Sign in to add this game to your wishlist or mark as not interested

Early Access Game

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

Note: This Early Access game is not complete and may or may not change further. If you are not excited to play this game in its current state, then you should wait to see if 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.”

Approximately 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 - late October. [COMPLETE!]

SAPPHIRE - end November. More complex and generous Legacies. The East: Irem and the Pillared Sea, the Empire of Hands, Frostfound and the sun-touched Calumnies.

DIAMOND - start January. Neutral vessels, wandering weather phenomena.The Sea of Statues and the Crying Heights.

PEARL – early February. Final release!”

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!”
Read more



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 (19)

November 19

Zail to Visage

The isle named Visage is now open, if you are prepared to go masked.

"All visitors must pass, one by one, through a room guarded by a person in the mask of a Moon-Moth…"

Our most enigmatic island yet. Learn the etiquette of masks. Ascend the ranks. Uncover the confessions of Flourishing-of-Years.

Emily Short writes many kinds of interactive fiction. She is a seasoned contributor to Fallen London and Sunless Sea. Tweet her @emshort, and read her blog.

It’s been an incredible treat working with Meg Jayanth, Richard Cobbett, and now the frankly legendary Emily Short.

We wanted the Unterzee to feel like a place full of unexpected wonders, and getting contributions from different voices has helped us make this trilogy of islands distinctive.

Your reactions are greatly appreciated!

2 comments Read more

November 13

Come to the Isle of Cats

Here, an invisible tiger stalks and deadly roses grow. Unravel a tale of memory, cruelty and desire, with the King's Claw, the Lady of the Cages, and a mystery from Fallen London's past...

A substantial story for Sunless Sea in the form of a guest island written by Meg Jayanth.

Meg Jayanth is a freelance writer and game-maker in London. Her recent work includes 80 Days - a decolonised, steampunk adaptation of Verne's adventure classic, for iOS - and Samsara, a rich historical fantasy of dream-walking and intrigue set in Eighteenth Century Bengal, which lives on our own StoryNexus.

Follow Meg @betterthemask

"Welcome to the Isle of Cats," the Wide-Eyed Dockmaster says brightly. "Would you like to bribe me not to write down your details in this nice official ledger?"

Click New Stories Available to get this story, and enjoy.

5 comments Read more
See all discussions

Report bugs and leave feedback for this game on the discussion boards


“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

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
11 of 11 people (100%) found this review helpful
6.9 hrs on record
Posted: October 24
Early Access Review
The gameplay is difficult, even on "merciful mode" (which allows multiple saves compared to the single-save default survival mode). I've yet to earn enough funds to purchase a new steamboat, and I'm very good at running out of fuel and ending up stranded at zee. It's almost maddeningly difficult, which is kind of refreshing actually. I get frustrated and have to take frequent breaks from it, but I always come back to it.

The world it is set in is mysterious and compelling. Familiarity with the browser game"Fallen London" isn't necessary, but must admit it enhanced my expereince, and filled out the storylines nicely.

At this time, it's still in Early Access so a lot may still change, but as it stands it's definitely worth checking out.
Was this review helpful? Yes No
9 of 13 people (69%) found this review helpful
4.3 hrs on record
Posted: October 29
Early Access Review
A game that woul be awesome if everything was rebalanced. Cargo space, Money value. Fuel efficiency. Ship speed and Handling. Because of these things, going anywhere is a challenge, which would be okay, if only you made any money from the trading. All in all, you end up with barely more fuel and food than what you leave with, if you're so lucky. Like it is right now, it's a 4/10, but if they fix at least a couple of things, it'll be a solid 8 or 9.
Was this review helpful? Yes No
4 of 4 people (100%) found this review helpful
19.0 hrs on record
Posted: November 4
Early Access Review
Some of the mechanics remind me of Sid Meier's Pirates, but it's a really dark, story-driven game. One of my favorites.

And even though it's still early access, the devs have been putting great work into it. After lackluster reactions to combat, they completely scrapped and reworked the system. Can't wait to see the final product.
Was this review helpful? Yes No
4 of 4 people (100%) found this review helpful
126.2 hrs on record
Posted: November 6
Early Access Review
There are mistakes in a zee captain's life. This was not one of them. It had to die, if indeed it could be said to be living. It was a sacrifice not of its own choosing, but of something vast and compelling that had chosen for it. Had chosen for me. There were things I needed. Things I needed to know. Colours of memory and secrets that burn.

Far from my birth on the street I rested in my manse, contemplating a life of luxury, filled with light. No longer fearing each time we turned from the shore that we would be swallowed whole by the dark. No more red feasts. No more nights haunted by The Eye. No more hard choices. No more regrets.

From the frozen temple of Whither to the weeping stones of the Salt Lions I traveled. Laden down with the great treasures of the Tomb Colony of Venderbight and multi-hued scintillack from the Principles, the ship sped through the calm waters of the Unterzee. Above the deck, the enormous heart of something old and vicious and clever, dripping irrigo blood through the netting that held it. A king's ransom, gathered at great risk and expense from all corners of the Neath. The price agreed upon for the life of a nightmare. A thing. A friend.

There are mistakes that cannot be undone. I have made many. This was not one of them.
Was this review helpful? Yes No
2 of 2 people (100%) found this review helpful
3.7 hrs on record
Posted: October 30
Early Access Review
As a story Sunless sea is amazing.

Just as a very small example Im sailing along in the pure darkness of this vast underground ocean and suddenly a tentacle reaches up from the depths. You might anticipate a fight but no, all that happens is a crewman steps forward, completly unafraid of it for some reason and it gently grabs him and pulls him beneath the waves without so much as a sound or an ounce of struggle from the crewman.

And its never mention again. In the world of the sunless sea, this sort of stuff just... happens. And it will creep you the hell out. This game really really gets the concept of sublety and atmosphere.

What it doesnt quite get is the actual game part. The learning curve is so steep its a cliff, home to many murderous bats who do significant damage that cant be repaired cost effectively and will end your journey often and in unsatisfying ways that feel cheap and hard to combat.

The game is somewhat unintuitive and suffers from poor progression of skills and upgrades. Heck for that matter you'll often find that the rewards from completing a mission dont even go halfway to covering the costs you acrued in repairs, fuel and supplies.

If this were a novel I imagine it would be one of my favourites. But its not, its a flawed game with some interesting ideas. I'd still recomend Sunless Sea but only if youre into the subject material of steampunk horror as it cant really hold up as a game alone.
Was this review helpful? Yes No
3 of 4 people (75%) found this review helpful
34.8 hrs on record
Posted: November 2
Early Access Review
Like Don't Starve with boats. 10/10
Was this review helpful? Yes No
1 of 1 people (100%) found this review helpful
13.9 hrs on record
Posted: October 23
Early Access Review
Sunless Sea has a lot going for it. Fallen London is a great setting - think Dunwall meets Neverwhere - and the Underzee is beautifully rendered in game with a muted palette of dim greens and blues. The soundtrack is a perfect match for the eerie setting, full of mournful bells and haunting echoes.

The gameplay falls somewhere between “rogue like” and “choose your own text adventure.” Everything moves along at an intentionally slow pace, and the emphasis is squarely on stories over action. Sunless Sea isn’t about a single, unified story or plot line, but rather about experiencing (and collecting) individual macabre vignettes.

There’s a lot of text in Sunless Sea, and if there’s one place where the UX feels a bit cobbled together, it’s in the way that you read and navigate through story choices. Tiles can clutter the screen, text may expand in-line while the panel auto-scrolls back to the top, and “notification” events butt up against story text. In a nutshell, text interactions generally feel like viewing a mobile-friendly web page in IE6.

Fortunately the content itself is great. Stories are creepy and foreboding without being cliched, and they’re often tantalizingly incomplete. When a delightful little shiver runs down your spine after a particularly morbid episode, that’s Sunless Sea is at its best.

Where Sunless Sea is often *not* at its best is in the gameplay mechanics that glue these story fragments together. The economy that restricts exploration is unforgiving, and not in a way that necessarily enriches the experience. “Don’t Starve” and “FTL” can both be quite harsh, for example, but they’re certainly never boring. In contrast, there’s an element of repetitive grinding in Sunless Sea as you stockpile enough resources to make your next push further into the unknown.

Of course the exploration needs to be throttled somehow, both to let that anticipation (and dread) build, and to make achieving the far reaches feel like a true accomplishment. But spending 20-30 minutes shuttling back and forth along the same “milk run,” slowly stockpiling resources for each potentially exciting voyage into the unknown is too much tedium for such an otherwise charming game.

Sunless Sea is nearing the end of its Early Access life on Steam, and most of the scheduled updates before going “live” are focused on adding more great content (islands, stories, items, etc.) to the Underzee. Here’s hoping that there’s also some time left to tune some combination of the economy, navigation, and death/legacy mechanics to enable a more seamless, less repetitive gameplay experience.
Was this review helpful? Yes No
1 of 1 people (100%) found this review helpful
50.9 hrs on record
Posted: October 25
Early Access Review
After playing Sunless Sea over the past week (mostly offline) I feel that I can rightly recommend this game. The content I've seen so far is very impressive, and I trust that it'll only get better.

First impressions, when venturing out into the unknown, there's a very real sense of anxiety. Early on, without knowing how far your fuel will take you, each time you leave dock feels like a one-way trip. However, each port has its own story to tell, and you'll always look forward to what you'll come across next. When presented with a fork in the road (RNG challenges), the risks are satisfying to make.

After a while (or after a death or two), you, as a player, become more experienced. You learn which ports to stop at when you're heading out far. You consider how much terror you can safely accumulate when you run without a lightsource. You'll get a feel for how much damage you can dish out and recieve. You'll establish a route or two that'll make you the most profit; what you should sell, where you should sell it, and what to keep for later. You develop a captain's mind. You have to, or you're dead.

Some peculiar observations, though:

Once I wrote a will, my outlook changed significally. I lost much of those early-game jitters, and likely won't feel them in any future playthrough since I'm already making lasting investments from this point on.

Also, once enough of the map has been explored, most of what's left to do is simply doing business. There's still more out there, and I'm still finding new things, but at this point, with exploration mostly out of the way, the game is starting to feel like a casual experience, sort of a darker version of Animal Crossing. Now it's mostly just earning more money and collecting stuff by doing repeatable jobs, while progressing maybe 1 or 2 story plots if it's along the way to my next payoff (could just be me; I did take the "get rich" ambition, after all).

Another thing that makes the game feel more casual is that the save system is fairly easy to abuse. By default, the game saves only when you dock. If you fail an RNG challenge, you can simply 'quit to title screen' and hit continue. If there's more business to be done that you know is safe to do, do that first, then hit the docking key "E" twice to leave and redock in an instant, updating the save so you can retry the challenge until it goes your way. It's unfortunate, but I'm all too guilty for save-scumming this way. Some of the best written content is only experienced once, and I really don't want to miss out on any of the stories and/or treasure.

I think the only technical thing I would like to see added to the game would be the ability to remap certain keys. I just want to be able to change the lamp-toggle to a key other than "L." It just seems to be the only command on the right-hand side of the keyboard, is all.
Was this review helpful? Yes No
1 of 1 people (100%) found this review helpful
52.2 hrs on record
Posted: October 25
Early Access Review
The Sunless Sea
by Talon

"The Sunless Sea has drawn us to the Neath
where the Madness and Fear are freely bequeathed
weaving their ancient siren songs sweetly into our leadened sleep
as shadows stalk us across the fathomless deep."

"Cast our feeble ray of light...upon the trackless expanse of the Unterzee's inky twilight.
Watch as we fritter about like tiny fireflies...sailing around the outer reaches of an alien world...
whose eldritch placid waters wash over us like an unholy funeral shroud.
Know Death as a kindness oft sought but seldom truly found...over the span of this unearthly mile beneath the ground."

"This we know...This we pray."

"A day at Zee is a gift warmly bestowed by the flickering actinic glow from our tiny little gas-lit array...used to guard against the unseeing eyes of the alien gods in the sea beneath our cargo bay."

"A night at Zee is a curse fouled by the fetid breath that blows softly across the eternal eldritch twilight by the hour...
like a poisonous wind carrying seeds of madness and terror that take root and flower...
as our sanity softly crumbles and our minds slowly devoured."

"Thus we who have sailed this way before...
humbly ask that you live your life ashore...
clinging to the tiny rocks awash in a kindly if ignorant bliss...
lest you discover that some secrets are far better left undisturbed upon this...Sunless Sea."
Was this review helpful? Yes No
1 of 1 people (100%) found this review helpful
15.8 hrs on record
Posted: November 1
Early Access Review
The game is simple, survive in the underground seas, make a fortune, retire. Your enemies are everything around you, even your own mind. Terror builds while in the darkness, while in the light of towns and bouys (spelling?) your terror stops. Battlke sea creatures and pirates, ferry the dead, even deal in souls. All of this can be done on the Sunless Seas!

Music - Well done and easily matches the tone of the game. Fell in love with it right away.
Content - Thought not a high amount of ports things changes from time to time, so going back to a place youve been to may wield unexpected results.
Twisted Atmosphere - If it was only pirates Id have passed it up. Deep ones and dark creatures make this story a very interesting one.
Death - When you die, its game over like in any rogue like game, there is perma death though this is turned off in the merciful mode allowing you to save. However you can pass one of your Map, officers or skills to the next generation. I always recommend the map as its very useful.

Text Based Game - Not for everyone, I didnt mind it as enjoy reading and usually read lore and such in MMO's but it is not for everyone.
Money - Making money in this game is a slow paced process, though easy, it can be long.
Was this review helpful? Yes No
1 of 1 people (100%) found this review helpful
17.9 hrs on record
Posted: November 1
Early Access Review
I find the game quite enjoyable. It's nerve-wracking to conduct business on a variety of fronts, hope for a good roll of the die, and still barely make a profit to adventure forward. The grind is rough, but if balanced a little bit more, it'll feel about right.

* There have been some noticable typos; such as a job requires 3 crew-men and only 2 are needed. I'm sure these will pop up every now and then.
* I haven't bought a new ship yet, but I find it frustrating that other ships and creatures can turn on a dime very quickly, whereas I still have to make a round around an island before making a 180 (I know there is a reverse, that's not the point).
* I think a nice addition would be a flare gun to send a signal for a tugboat that brings you back to port in case you run out of fuel just feet before docking. I could have got an oar out and paddled instead of needing to restart.
* The combat system flows well, but when two enemies are in range, I can't target the other.
Was this review helpful? Yes No
1 of 1 people (100%) found this review helpful
30.0 hrs on record
Posted: November 2
Early Access Review
Despite being a game that is imperfect and unfinished, Sunless Sea is absolutely wonderful.

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.

There are gameplay elements that still need work, obviously, as the game is Early Access after all. But if you appreciate a wonderful atmosphere and truly original writing, and have the urge to explore the wonders of a unique underground ocean, definitely keep an eye on Sunless Sea.

Was this review helpful? Yes No
2 of 3 people (67%) found this review helpful
5.6 hrs on record
Posted: October 30
Early Access Review
Would I recommend this game?

It's a Fallen London game! It has boats in it! WHY DON'T YOU OWN THIS ALREADY!? WHAT HAS GONE WRONG IN YOUR LIFE!? WHO HURT YOU!?

Seriously though, it's great.
Was this review helpful? Yes No
3 of 5 people (60%) found this review helpful
7.6 hrs on record
Posted: November 1
Early Access Review
I feel bad reviewing it from Nov ember Early Access (final due in Dec) but as much as I like roguelikes and RPGs, I couldn't make myself like this.

Typical to a roguelike, the gameplay is punishing. Normally, that means if you delve too deep into a dungeon, you get mobbed and end your run. In this, it means you spent 10 minutes going in one direction, cruising by (beautiful) empty landmarks, running out a fuel and simply sitting there until you quit.

If you try to play more cautious - not go out too far, prepare before taking on challenges - you'll find yourself in a trading simulator. Go to A, buy 10 of Item, go to B, sell them and return to A, or save scumming to reload the pirate you have an 80% chance to actually get loot from. It literally takes hours of the same tedious gameplay before you can get even the first set of marginal upgrades (crew officers).

It takes forever to get anywhere - both in-game travel, and player progression. While other games may not have the same degree of world building, they more than make up for it in actual gameplay.
Was this review helpful? Yes No
4 of 7 people (57%) found this review helpful
2.6 hrs on record
Posted: November 6
Early Access Review
Sunless Sea is a top-down rougue-lite boat 'em up. Interesting in concept but flawed in execution.

The original combat mechanics were slow turn-based and kinda dull. Since the update combat is real time against cheating enemy AI (so best avoided although that isn't possible) The severe resource shortage will have you grinding for hours or failing, probably both. Fortunately the devs continue to update and support the game, unfortunately there is a long way to go before Sunless Sea feels fun to play.
Was this review helpful? Yes No
1 of 3 people (33%) found this review helpful
3 of 11 people (27%) found this review helpful
4.2 hrs on record
Posted: October 30
Early Access Review
hit rocks - died
would die again
Was this review helpful? Yes No
0 of 36 people (0%) found this review helpful
8.4 hrs on record
Posted: October 31
Early Access Review
Furious that I bought the prooduct on the 27th only to have the price reduced on the 31st via HumbleBundle. Seems to haeppen to me every time I buy a game online.
Was this review helpful? Yes No
100.7 hrs on record
Posted: October 30
Early Access Review
Sunless Sea is a great game that's in Early Access. Gameplay is fairly simple -- you are the captain of a ship in the port of Fallen London, which sits on the edge of the Unterzee, a vast lightless ocean. You have to manage four resources: Money (Echoes), Food (supplies), Fuel (fuel), and Terror, all while exploring, making money and eventually retiring from Seafaring life.

The narratives are very well written and interesting, and there are a variety of overlapping stories. I'd almost describe the game as a survival horror experience, as it never quite feels like you have enough of anything.

The primary downside of the game is that it's in Early Access, and clearly not finished yet. Currently a lot of ports are not particularly functional (or clearly have the wrong shops and dialog options), but the art is very well done and everything you see is interesting (I always find myself wondering about the story behind the different areas). In addition it's difficult to make money, especially in bulk, when you start. I think these are balance issues that will eventually be resolved, as opposed to serious detractions of the game. If this were a 1.0 release I wouldn't recommend it, but as the game is in Early Access I certainly see the potential and that the 'good' far outweighs the 'bad'.

If you liked FTL and also like HP Lovecraft, buy this game. You will not be disappointed.
Was this review helpful? Yes No
16.9 hrs on record
Posted: October 31
Early Access Review
Although this game is still in early access the current product is a great game. This game revolves around the zee of Fallen London (Failbetter's browser text RPG). The Unterzee is a dark, dangerous place and full of terrors. you are a Zee Captain and you must navigate these waters while trying your best to keep you & your crew sane enough to prevent any murderous rampage.
At present you can have multiple origins and differing end games depending on your own choice, although currently in Early access only two endings are available. There's also a plentiful supply of side quests, will you assist the admiralty in trying to ressurect the empire? Will you become a smuggler on your road to riches? Will you sell your soul to the devil or help the mysterious curator of Venderblight?
As it is a Roguelike game the high zee is a dangerous place to travel even without other humans around to step on your toes. Strange creatures such as Bound-Sharks, Living Icebergs, Giant Crabs and jellyfish roam the unter-zee. As well as this there are pirates and Khanites who generally have better ships than you, do you avoid them or try and win by out-manoeuvering them. But did you bring enough fuel to keep the engines churing? Do you have enough supplies to keep whatever crew you brought with you fed well, or will you tunr into a cannibal to keep alive? Or will terror consume your crew and will you be plagued by the nightmares?
Even death offers choices: will your chart of the Unterzee make it back to your inheritor, or did one of your crew survive whatever fate befell your ship, or did you teach your inheritor some of the workings or running a ship on the zee? (mechanically speaking the last option lets you pass on progress of one of your 5 five skills) And did you leave a solid enough will to leave behind your home and some of your property or will it be whisked away before your heir can take to the high zee?

The only thing I feel really needs tweaked is that the economy needs some work as quite a few missions aren't worth doing once you take into account the cost of fuel of supplies involved in transporting the goods, that and the other ships available to purchase are prohibitly expensive.
Was this review helpful? Yes No