GAME REVIEW: SUNLESS SEA / DEVELOPER: FAILBETTER GAMES / PLATFORM: PC, MAC / RELEASE DATE: OUT NOW (EARLY ACCESS)
Failbetter Game’s Sunless Sea is an addictive, atmospheric and thoroughly enjoyable 2D top-down adventure that shouldn’t be missed. The game sees you navigating a vast expanse of sea which has swallowed Victorian London, while taking care of your boat, your crew members and any threats that you might find in the murky waters. Fuel, food and other supplies must all be kept in abundance if you want to thrive on these strange tides, and success in this game depends entirely on your strategy for survival.
One of the many fantastic things about Sunless Sea is its methods of interactive storytelling. The adventure that you’ll embark upon depends entirely on where you go, who you speak to, what quests you choose and what enemies you meet, making every game of Sunless Sea a little different and unique. The plot of the game is told entirely through text and you won’t actually get to step off your boat and have a look around these islands yourself, but this works incredibly well with the tone of the game, and the humorous and dark text works wonders to spark the imagination.
The combat system is possibly the biggest flaw of Sunless Sea. The idea is simple enough - charge your on-board weapon by getting close to your enemy and wait for the time to strike. However, charging your weapon is a slow process when you first start the game, making battling your enemies a very difficult task. Once you have the money you can upgrade your vessel and your weapon, but making money is a hard feat when most enemies you come across can kill you in no time!
There are many ways to die in Sunless Sea, from being attacked by pirates or a swarm of bats to running out of fuel or food, and once you’re gone the only option you have is a new save file. A great feature of the game is the ability to transfer either a crewmate, your explored chart or a skill to your new save file. Strategy is everything in Sunless Sea and decisions are everywhere in this clever indie game.
Sunless Sea is a game that you’ll get the most of if you have the time to invest in it. The choose-your-own fate elements of the plot, the atmospheric and beautiful music and the vast expanse of the world of Failbetter Games’ Fallen London make it a truly absorbing game, but the combat and the complexity of trading, looting and surviving can get a little frustrating. As an early-access game this is definitely one to watch, and fans of games such as Don’t Starve will get hours and hours of sunless joy.
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