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About the Story
LOSE YOUR MIND. EAT YOUR CREW. 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.
Language: English (en)
First Publication Date: February 6, 2015
Current Version: Unknown
Development System: StoryNexus
Forgiveness Rating: Nasty
Makes reference to Fallen London, by Failbetter Games
Followed by sequel Sunless Skies, by Failbetter Games
Winner, Best Setting; Nominee, Best Use of Innovation; Nominee, Best Use of Multimedia - 2015 XYZZY Awards
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Number of Reviews: 2
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Sunless Sea is a wonderfully captivating exploration-and-trading game, set in a Lovecraftesque watery underworld. You'll visit ports; buy and sell goods; uncover secrets; and run errands for groups ranging from the Admiralty of Fallen London to a monkey kingdom to an underwater monarch to a colony of spiders. You'll encounter devils, revolutionaries, cannibals, and an island that's gone postal. You might earn the wrath of the Storm God, install spies in other ports, propagate mushroom creatures across the sea, witness nuns engaging in martial arts, and found your own colony. The sheer variety of things to do in Sunless Sea is astounding, and the game has kept me engaged for dozens of hours.
The game's arch and witty writing is a treat to read. To take just one minor example, there's a subtly menacing character you can meet who has a keen eye for fashion. The mouseover text for her picture says, "She has no difficulties with blood. But she very much dislikes bloodstains."
Sunless Sea reminds me of a much, much more in-depth version of Superluminal Vagrant Twin. It's graphics-based, though - not text-based. You'll spend much of your time piloting your ship around the Unterzee.
Out of all of the games I've played that are listed on the IFDB, Sunless Sea seems the least like IF. Although the writing is strong, and you (as the player) are effectively telling interesting stories by the choices you make, it's not a text-based game. Thus I'm omitting my rating from the game's average.
But the most important thing about Sunless Sea is not the label you place on it; it's that the game is a lot of fun. Highly recommended.
This game is visually lush and rich, but its heart is storytelling.
In this game, you pilot a boat from port to port. You start on the fringe of existence, able to die from a few hits by passing monsters, losing your crew to mob bosses, or running out of fuel or food. Slowly, you crawl your way up to being able to afford more and survive attacks. It calls itself Roguelike in combat and I feel that's accurate.
But most of the gameplay is stories. You discover ports which come in increasingly exotic sets as you get further away from home. At first, you discover things like an island of liars or a mysterious military station accepting coffins and nothing else. As you expand, you can find a terrifying castle of ice or an island of guinea pigs and rats. At the very edges, you reach the truly horrifying or truly cute.
Stories range from diplomatic negotiations to bizarre rituals to painful torture and so on.
The Zubmariner expansion adds a ton of stories but not much new in the way of equipment. The main Zubmariner storyline (Immortality) is excellent, and the new ports are some of my favorites (I enjoyed slowly turning my organs into crystal and injecting myself with solidified regrets).
I put about 76 hours into the game+expansion, and plan on playing again in the future.
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