Failbetter Games is an English developer that was mainly known for their browser choose-your-own-adventure game, Fallen London. This game was set in a pretty dark universe and had a core fanbase, even if it was not known to the wider audience. This fact made the company create a full game based in the same universe. Its name is Sunless Sea.
This time, instead of just lurking the roads of Fallen London, the player is a captain on a ship and can set sail from Fallen London and explore the rest of this dark underworld known as Unterzee, recruit crew for the ship and live great adventures of awe and horror.
The gameplay is quite simple. The player controls the ship and explores the map in real time. But caution is advised, since fuel and food is limited and the world is full of hungry creatures and undescribable terrors waiting for helpless zailors.
In the several ports that exist in the Unterzee, the player will have several possible decisions to make. Some of them will be fairly simple. Want to sell some relic you found? Urgently need fuel or food? At each port there is a chance to trade, for different prices of course. There is also the chance of starting certain events, most of which are unique on an island. These events can be solved by either taking the correct decisions or using the skills available in the crew of the ship (if they are high enough of course).
In one of my saves, I went to an island where the locals had a tradition to wear different animal masks, characteristic of their social stature. I went to watch a festival they had and I was talking to a high ranking priest about their general customs. Suddenly, he asked me to change masks (I was wearing the mask of a visitor and he one for priests). I accepted and he just ran away since visitors could leave the island while the priests could not. In all accounts, he just tricked me into changing masks in order for him to escape, while I was stuck there in his place.
When I realised it, I panicked, since the game has permadeath and I was doing really well until that time. After the first shock, I decided to continue as long as it would take and try to enjoy this unique opportunity. And it paid off. Using the lore knowledge I acquired from my talk with the priest earlier plus a couple lucky dialogue choices, I managed to join a cultish ritual that could be joined only by priests and, after participating in all of the aspects of the ritual, I found the chance to sneak away due to the relative skill being high enough. For all this trouble, I managed to get a unique deity buff from the ritual I was in.
Part of what I tried to show with the above was that this game has terrific writing. There are ton of different events, unique to each island, since they have different people and customs. This makes exploring a very interesting aspect of the games since you can discover something new on each save.
This game also features a combat system. It is on real time, during the “travel mode” on Unterzee. It can be triggered if an enemy comes too close to the ship and the player has to align the cannons in order to hit the enemy. The ship also has a lamp, that increases the visibility of the ship, but also makes it a target. If the lamp is closed, there is a chance to sneak away from the enemies.
Have you played this game? Which was the most memorable event that happened to you?