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81

Generally favorable reviews - based on 38 Critics What's this?

User Score
7.6

Generally favorable reviews- based on 153 Ratings

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  • Summary: 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 Victorian Gothic universe of Fallen London.

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Sunless Sea - Launch Trailer
Score distribution:
  1. Positive: 31 out of 38
  2. Negative: 0 out of 38
  1. LEVEL (Czech Republic)
    Mar 10, 2015
    100
    It's not earned easily, but if you are proficient in English and you also have patience to get in picture in a fantastical world, your reward will be a true treasure among current games. [Issue#250]
  2. Mar 10, 2015
    90
    An extremely good game which just doesn’t feel properly finished. It’s not quite a final draft. It’s still damned good fun though.
  3. Feb 23, 2015
    88
    Sunless Sea is a game for a very specific audience. It requires a patient player who loves reading and has a big imagination. But if this is you, then you'll know how does it feel to long for the open sea while remaining seated in your room.
  4. Feb 9, 2015
    80
    Indeed, one of the best things about Sunless Sea, apart from its beautifully crafted elder-horror stories, fantastically drawn artwork and generally creepy atmosphere, is the feeling that the decisions you make within the game are shaping the narrative, and that by playing, you are writing yourself into that story.
  5. Mar 3, 2015
    80
    Sunless Sea is a little darker and less cheerful than its already morbid sister Fallen London, but it’s no less delightful.
  6. Feb 11, 2015
    80
    Wonderful writing resting on top of infirm foundations. Almost a classic, Sunless Sea falls a few leagues short of its final destination.
  7. Feb 18, 2015
    60
    I don’t want to sound too down on Sunless Sea. Sadly though, it’s one of those games that I respect and appreciate more than I enjoy and one that I find it easier to recommend than to actually play.

See all 38 Critic Reviews

Score distribution:
  1. Positive: 21 out of 36
  2. Negative: 8 out of 36
  1. Dec 18, 2016
    10
    One of the best games I have played in a long time. The text is immersive. I actually feel like I'm part of the story. I find this to be aOne of the best games I have played in a long time. The text is immersive. I actually feel like I'm part of the story. I find this to be a rare thing in games, you're so often ramrodded towards a central narrative even in games that proclaim themselves to be openended and open world. In sunless sea there are a million little pieces of story, all well written, all tailor made, but free to combine themselves into new and exciting things all of the time. I find myself anxiously wondering if I'll make it to the next port before my food and fuel run out, wondering what I could have done to stop that house from burning down, and generally lost inside the game. This doesnt happen. I dont get lost inside games. Somehow I am. Expand
  2. Sep 25, 2017
    10
    One of my favourite games of all time. It's famously harsh and keen to kill you, which is part of the dark humour. It's a humour style thatOne of my favourite games of all time. It's famously harsh and keen to kill you, which is part of the dark humour. It's a humour style that won't work for everyone, but if you recognise and appreciate their references then it'll reward you in spades. Strongly recommend getting the Zubmariner DLC too - it's playable inside the main game story, and gives you many advantages once you've gained the ability to scour the surface, the Unterzee and the sea bed too.

    The game also makes a big deal about playing for permadeath, teasing the idea that it would be detrimental to use Saves and lose your status as a "true" player. I'd advise you to forget that, and use the Save! It's hard enough without completely crushing yourself. Abandon all ideas about finding some cheap stock that's worth a fortune at another port, too; such things are almost totally non-existent, and this isn't Elite. Money will appear as windfalls from unexpected moments in the game's story, as will life-saving food and fuel (although you will also need to buy these!). The game wants you to forget about traditional game ideas and put both feet into being a foolhardy sea captain from a horror story. Be reckless and give yourself to that premise, and the game will pay you back with more (wonderfully well written) stories.
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  3. Feb 8, 2015
    10
    Been playing games since the 80s, and first game I felt compelled to rate. For sure, it not for everyone, but for me it is stunning,Been playing games since the 80s, and first game I felt compelled to rate. For sure, it not for everyone, but for me it is stunning, Atmospheric, different, addictive. Love the fact that you are going to die at the start, but that helps your descendants (or rivals) to progress. Expand
  4. Mar 6, 2015
    8
    This is a highly unusual game to say the least. If you can imagine a sort of mutation of Lovecraft, Ports of Call, Rogue Legacy and FTL withThis is a highly unusual game to say the least. If you can imagine a sort of mutation of Lovecraft, Ports of Call, Rogue Legacy and FTL with undead tourists and sea monsters then you`re getting there. But then it isn`t really like any of those at all either, but something quite particular indeed. Half the time I couldn`t even tell if I was having fun or was being shanghaied into some sort of sociology experiment quite frankly. Crossing the sea takes positively forever, and chances are you`re not making it across even if you`re patient enough to try. So in short the best description I can give of Sunless Sea is that it is a verbose, story generating, nautical legacy rogue-like set in a faux, subterranean 19th century Britain with undeads, pirates, talking rodents, giant crabs, jellyfish, mechanical sharks and other sea dwelling terrors. It could hardly be any weirder if it tried.
    Meanwhile there`s a curious mixture of gloom, literacy and nonsensical absurdism in this game I am unsure if I have seen anywhere before. It`s not exactly funny, not exactly tragic and not exactly dramatic. It just is, like a weird alternative reality full of slightly unsettling things of all kinds. But something is very likely to take a hold of you while playing Sunless Sea whether you like it or not, and whatever it is.
    Mostly it`s desperation and sheer panic of course, as hours of meticulous progress threaten to go down the drain unless you can somehow limp and cannibalize your way back to the relative safety of Fallen London. But on the occasions when you do make it back, preferably with some haul to make the whole thing feel worth it, there`s a potent sense of relief I haven`t experienced too often in video games. There is a distinct visual style as well, and the sound is excellent in every way, as you chug your way nervously around a subterranean ocean called The Unterzee. But it`s the panicked moments when you know you`re gonna be lost at sea, again, which drive you up the wall and right on to starting all over again with the next poor sap you`re gonna drown in an act of overstretch, stupidity, hubris or accident, in the form of your heir. Ideally each drowned sap, erm I mean captain, will build on the fortune of his predecessor until some conclusion to the game can be reached. I have not reached that far yet, but it is an interesting concept and it is well executed in Sunless Sea.
    I would score it higher if it wasn`t for the sense I am getting that the story part of the game crashes a bit with the rogue-like genre. Replayability is all good and well. But who wants to read the same text over and over again? I ended up clicking through most of it because of this, which is a shame because it`s well written stuff. Just not the tenth time. Or the twentieth. And similarly, random events have a bad habit of not seeming very random. Once I got the same one five times in a row within about three minutes. I didn`t want it and dismissed it only to get it again twenty seconds later until I thought it was a bug of some sort. Secondly it seems a bit grindy. This isn`t necessarily a bad thing of course, and at least the game rewards the lost art of patience. But I am having a hell of a time getting any development of my ship going at all, which is sort of a big deal in a nautical rogue-like. The upgrades are expensive, not to mention upgrading the hull, and the one cannon upgrade I did manage to buy was not inherited by my heir as advertized, which felt like the game cheating quite frankly. And the game is hard enough without cheating the player.
    Other than these slight niggles, most of which have more to do with the irrepressible creativity of the designers than any actual flaws with the game, I can`t find a thing to criticize about it.

    Highly recommended if you have the patience to read my review of it. Especially if you like things difficult and slow paced and you enjoy reading.
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  5. Mar 2, 2015
    7
    I have spend now around 10hrs playing this game, and I'm ready to write a review. Let's start with a short summary:

    Seldom have I played a
    I have spend now around 10hrs playing this game, and I'm ready to write a review. Let's start with a short summary:

    Seldom have I played a game that gives me such mixed messages. Sublime text based story and a truly wonderful world battle with bad game mechanics and pure boredom. And while I wish I could fully advise to buy this game, I feel troubled by some pretty bad design choices.

    The good:

    This has been said before, the game world and the writing are simply great. The whole world, while really dark makes complete sense. Every port that you explore has new interesting stories to tell.

    The choices you have to make are meaningful, even if you succeed in challenges you often have to deal with negative effects that come sidelong. Like some artifact you get that is worth a lot but raises your Terror levels. The card systems is kind of artificial, but works really good. You always know what you need and what your chances are to succeed in a challenge.

    As a whole the setting is wonderful and you strife to learn more from this world, explorer the secrets of the deep Zea and deal with it's terrors.

    The neutral (People might find this good or bad according to personal taste):

    The game is really hard. Ressource management is brutal, most of your money is spend on fuel and food. Building up something extra takes a long time.

    You will die quite some time, and dying is really punishing in this game. In the beginning you loose everything and you will have to start all over again. If you find this troubling I advise you to turn off permanent death witch is an option. (But default is unforgiving mode, so be careful)
    Also ff you die there is no random content, except the position of islands. So you will have to go through everything you did again.

    Overall the pace of the game is really slow. Most of the time you will stare at your screen seeing your little steamer make it's way through an almost black screen. Of course this adds a lot to the feeling of the game, but if you are after fast paced action, you won't get it in this game.

    The bad

    There are way to little options for ships, equipment etc. After 10 hours I haven't bought a single thing! I have now 2.000 money to spare, which is not bad considering the time I spent and there simply isn't a single thing that would make sense to buy. I repeat that 10 hours in the game and I haven't bough a single upgrade because there is nothing to buy:
    - New gun -> you will avoid fights 90% of the time anyway
    - New engine -> makes you slightly faster but consumes more precious fuel
    - New ship -> WAY more expensive then 2.000 echo

    While we are at it: combat sucks. You will be stuck with a single gun forever because you can't buy another ship, so you have tactical options of 0. Also combat is really dangerous most of the time, so you will avoid it as best as possible.

    Trading also sucks. There simply isn't anything you can trade with the starter ship that has enough margin to cover fuel & food and getting a trading ship is really expensive.

    Also this is a roguelike game, but dying is the worst thing you can do. You will want to avoid dying in any way possible because it's so extremely punishing. The permadeath option makes about as much sense as for Monkey Island.

    The Verdict

    So where does that leave us? Incredible writing vs. crappy gameplay. I the writing good enough to take the pain? I would say yes, but turn of permadeath or you will never explore the wonders of the Zea and only do the same stuff over and over again (remember, the definition of madness...).

    This game has been compared to Faster then Light (FTL) a lot. But let me say this to you straight away: It's NOTHING like that. FTL is a game stripped down to it's core gameplay. With incredibly deep and tactical fights, fast gameplay and a different outcome every time you start new. The combination of ships, weapons, crew members, augmentations etc. are endless in FTL and you get stuff pretty fast. On the other hand the story is spare and you will just get to make a handful of decisions along the way.

    That is about the complete opposite of Sunless Sea. Story driven, slow, very spare random elements, a complete lack of equipment and very flat sometimes really boring gameplay. To break it down for you: In FTL hardly every nothing happens in Sunless Sea you don't do anything at least 60% of the time.

    Would buy again? Yes, but a very close one.
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  6. Apr 5, 2015
    5
    First of all ignore all those big scores from "critics". If you think that a publication naming itself "Eurogamer" would be biased towardFirst of all ignore all those big scores from "critics". If you think that a publication naming itself "Eurogamer" would be biased toward European games then you're right.
    This game is first and foremost is incoherent. Is it an action game ? No, combat sucks. Is it a trading game ? No, trading is so pointless there's even a loading message advising you against it. So given a ship and crew when you start the game, what should you do ? I can't tell because I don't know. All you can do is set sail, reach an island which hopefully gives you a little resource to allow you to repeat the process next time. In this game money is so scarce you'd even have to sell the introduction manual. A few ways there are to make money are available only in online forums. Even so these all require unreasonable amount of time for grinding and save skumming. It really doesn't help either that the ship moves very very very slowly. You will spend most of the time watching your little ship struggling painfully to get to the edge of monitor.
    Playing this game is like coming to a party when everyone is about to leave. Try as you want, you just can't get into the crowd. This game is derived from Internet game called Fallen London with rules and lore no one but fans know. Indeed it has interesting premise, about exploration and Cthulhu-like atmosphere. But with poor presentation and incoherent gameplay, I am not going to spend another hour finding out. Neither should you.
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  7. Feb 16, 2015
    0
    Mediocre flash-tier game that only got high marks because one of the people working on it has a bunch of connections with gaming journos.Mediocre flash-tier game that only got high marks because one of the people working on it has a bunch of connections with gaming journos.

    While this game might seem interesting for the first couple hours, the feeling that quickly sets in isn't terror, but the reality that the game is extremely shallow (geddit?) and far too restrictive when it comes to making progress, forcing the player to grind for a very long time if they want to stop using the starter boat.
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See all 36 User Reviews

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