Fallen London

by Failbetter Games

Part of Fallen London
Fantasy
2009

Web Site

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Reviews and Ratings

5 star:
(25)
4 star:
(11)
3 star:
(5)
2 star:
(4)
1 star:
(1)
Average Rating:
Number of Ratings: 43
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- yleaf, September 22, 2021

- Jade68, September 14, 2021

9 of 9 people found the following review helpful:
A gigantic Victorian fantasy text game with a dark atmosphere, September 13, 2021
by MathBrush
Related reviews: more than 10 hours

I've been playing Fallen London for at least 5 years now, with a few different characters. I never wanted to review it before because I was worried it would be transitory, and that once the company went under no one would ever be able to play the game I had written about.

But it has been doing better than ever, and has in the last few years added a ton of new content which has significantly improved it.

In form, it is similar to old facebook text games like Mafia, where you have a bunch of numbers for resources and items that change around as you click. The difference is that this has really nice backgrounds, a ton of well-written text (I think a couple million words?) and a card-based system for storylets.

The game is set in a version of London that was sold to dark Masters by queen Victoria. It was taken underground, where the laws of physics no longer apply and death isn't permanent. Hell is a neighbor, and fungus and candles replace plants and sunlight.

It really is two games in one: the first is a time-gated system of customizable stories, with sixty or so actions spread throughout a day (or 80 if you pay a monthly fee). These stories include sweeping epics of revenge or battle against extradimensional beings that changes entire countries or the world, as well as smaller stories like fighting a spider in the sewers.

The other game is a carefully-balanced resources game. Each 'click' has an optimum number of resources available, growing larger until the endgame, and some powerful items take months to save up for. Some hardcore players compete to buy extravagant items like a hellworm or a cask of immortality-inducing cider.

Many storylets are re-used; so, you can bust a 'tomb colonist' (kind of a decayed sentient zombie) out of prison over and over again. Some are only done once, like deciding whether to support a local mob boss or his cop daughter. The re-used ones tend to occur in 'grinds' which are pretty common in this game, although much less than they once were in the early game.

To me, the best stories are:

-Making Your Name, early storylines that help you progress the four stats: Watchful (used for detective work with a Sherlock Holmes substitute, archaeology or university work studying bizarre magical languages), Persuasive (used for romantic and creative work, including writing operas and engaging in courtly romances), Dangerous (used for fighting duels and capturing monsters), and Shadowy (used for pickpocketing and elaborate heists)
-Ambitions. These are stories that span the entire length of the game, starting from something simple (usually tracking down an old friend or lead) and ending up dealing with godlike beings. They include a horror story, a revenge story, an adventure story and a sort of legend or fantasy about wish fulfillment.
-The final stat-capping storylines. These include the railway, an end-game segment where you become a railroad baron, building a railway to hell that gets stranger and stranger the further from London you get; the University Lab, where you discover the dark secrets of the Masters; a series of wars that you lead as a general in a bizarre place; and elaborate thefts that make you a legendary thief.

The game can be 'completed' without paying, but the monthly fee makes grinding a lot easier and provides access to some amazingly good short stories called 'exceptional stories'. Older exceptional stories are available for a fairly hefty sum, but they are generally worth it (especially ones by Chandler Groover and Emily Short).

There's a lot of interesting material up front in the 'making your name' segments, so it's worth checking it out just to see the overall style and feel.

Edit: Looking at the other reviews, I'd say their criticisms are absolutely true (stories can be shallow, clues and hints are items instead of actual stories). I just can't give 4 stars after having played this game for hundreds of hours and honestly investing over $100 or $200 in bits or pieces after years.


4 of 5 people found the following review helpful:
Fun at First, then Falls short, January 24, 2021
by Ogre (A Cave)

I think that's an excellent title. There is some really neat writing here. I really like some of the story lines that build up. But after playing for some time you reach a point where I felt like, "Wait, that's all? It's just more of the same." And it is. Again, great writing! I love the environment, the setting, the building of the setting, and everything else related to the story. But the story itself just sort of IS. Not a great deal happens. And I get that's the way the story and site are setup, but it still leaves me wanting more. Of course, that might be the idea behind the way this is setup and written, in which case it really hits the mark! So head on over and read some, I don't think you'll be disappointed. But you might not make it all the way to the end (is there an end?)


- mifga (Brooklyn, NY), October 14, 2020

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful:
Very interesting concept that just doesn't really deliver, October 13, 2020
by RadioactiveCrow (Irving, TX)
Related reviews: 10+ hours

I really wanted to like this game. The idea of playing a large, long and ever-changing text adventure via the web, along with some ability to interact with the other players, is a great one. However, the execution just hasn't grabbed me. I know there are a lot of players that love this game, and I've heard great things about the more traditional video game sequels from this studio (Sunless Sea and Sunless Skies), but I just can't get in to it. The stories just feel shallow, that there isn't a lot to them, nothing to really sink your teeth into, nothing to keep you coming back to see what happens next.

Plus, there is the limited actions mechanic. This is a free-to-play game, but it is the primary source of income for the studio. So one way that they've monetized the game is to limit you to 20 actions before you have to stop and let your action bank recharge, or you can pay a small monthly fee to get unlimited actions. The fee is very reasonable and if I was into this game more I would have no problem paying it to support the studio. Also, you can really accomplish quite a bit without paying. The 20 actions will let you play for about 20 minutes or so, then you can leave the game for a few hours to go about your normal routine or play other games and when you come back to it you will have recharged to 15-20 actions. Really it isn't the limited actions in and of themselves that I don't like, but that it seems like so many of your actions are spent grinding for a myriad of different resources to advance your character. It has a very MMORPG feel to it. And that would be right up my alley if the stories and payoffs for the grinding were better, but I just haven't found that to be the case yet.

The game is very well done though, the interface is clean and easy to use. The atmosphere of the game, from the graphics to the word choice, is incredible as well. This game has a lot of potential, but seeing as how it is already ten years old I don't know if it will ever get there.


- lunaterra (Atlanta, GA, USA), August 9, 2019

- Tarienna, July 5, 2019

- Bosch, May 8, 2019

- Swoopy, February 7, 2019

- ja, bo ja, August 28, 2017

- TheAncientOne, August 8, 2017

- Wanderlust, July 30, 2017

- QotC, June 2, 2017

- Lucifalle, April 25, 2017

- Dhary, March 28, 2017

- chargefire, January 25, 2017

- Pseudavid, November 1, 2016

- eyeballkidable, July 17, 2016

- Teaspoon, June 20, 2016

- zylla, May 2, 2016

- Artran (Prague, Czech Republic), April 14, 2016

- Felix Pleșoianu (Bucharest, Romania), April 11, 2016

- Joey Jones (UK), April 5, 2016

- itsdnoftheworld, March 19, 2016


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