Generally favorable reviews - based on 38 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 31 out of 38
  2. Negative: 0 out of 38
  1. LEVEL (Czech Republic)
    Mar 10, 2015
    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. Feb 9, 2015
    It is a game crafted by those with an irrepressible love, and possibly hunger, for words and tales.
  3. Feb 7, 2015
    Sunless Sea's method of storytelling isn't unique, but it has never been realised with such impact and elegance.
  4. Feb 16, 2015
    A haunting and unforgettable journey to the heart of what made video games fascinating in the first place. The 'Zee is endless, the 'Zee is dark, the 'Zee will kill you. Your heart belongs to its dark gods now.
  5. Mar 10, 2015
    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.
  6. Feb 13, 2015
    Sunless Sea sparks my curiosity and it is beautifully designed. The exploration of a Lovecraftian ocean is well crafted and well told.
  7. Feb 12, 2015
    More action-focused players will be unable to enjoy Sunless Sea at first, but I hope they take their time to learn what it has to offer and enjoy their trips in the Unterzee, with all the emotion and the frustration that comes packaged in them.
  8. Feb 8, 2015
    The realm of possibilities seems endless, and every time I set sail I find something new.
  9. Feb 23, 2015
    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.
  10. Pelit (Finland)
    May 13, 2015
    Real history can be a bit boring, so that's probably why Sunless Sea is set in an alternate world of 19th century where the city of London was transported underground by bats. The player is a steamship captain who must explore the vast underground sea, battle monsters and solve different types of quests. The writing and the atmosphere in the game is excellent, which is why I was really drawn into the events that were happening. It's a shame that the combat mechanics are oversimplified and simply not fun. The game is also too difficult for beginners. [May 2015]
  11. Mar 13, 2015
    Sunless Sea is a narrative masterpiece that is inspired by gothic literature. With minimal sources this game shapes a bizarre world with a great feel of atmosphere and detail. Too bad this game often is a tad slow.
  12. Feb 19, 2015
    Sunless Sea gives you a wonderful world to explore and packs it with memorable written vignettes. Its permadeath flirts with repetitiveness, and combat is disappointing, but it’s far from running out of ways to inspire one more trip back across the Unterzee.
  13. GameStar
    Feb 16, 2015
    Sunless Sea is special, though it is not for everyone. That's okay.
  14. Feb 9, 2015
    A sandbox game with a fascinating world that is worth of exploring, with a fantastic narrative inherited from Fallen London and lots of nice touches. However, it can be really slow, requires patience and backtracking. Not a game for everyone, but worth playing for anyone looking for something different.
  15. May 13, 2015
    Sunless Sea is a unique experience that few fans of careful planning and literary cannibalism should ignore. Proponents of Fallen London's dark sensibilities and chilling, lore-rich writing will more than forgive its few mechanical trespasses; however, even less patient gamers may want to peek in to experience the sights and sounds of the zee.
  16. Apr 22, 2015
    There’s a variety of ways to play and the subtle changes with each new captain keep the story feeling fresh and exciting.
  17. Mar 30, 2015
    Sunless Sea is a little gem full of both powerful, lovely crafted narrative and fine tuned explorative gameplay. If you like your games to be immersed in an incredible atmosphere and you don't mind a narrative-heavy way of presenting things, Sunless Sea is a definitive must-have.
  18. Mar 22, 2015
    Sunless Sea is a masterpiece of interactive storytelling, atmosphere and exploration that spins a unique, tense and frequently tragic new yarn every time you play. It's a shame that the spiteful economy and repetitive early game gradually forces you to focus on the systems, not the stories, but the quality of the writing elevates Sunless Sea into something rather special indeed.
  19. Mar 11, 2015
    Sunless Sea looks as if it fell from Jules Verne’s novels. You are facing the sea monsters and pirates and appreciate the warmth of each and every island pub. Fortunately, this marvelous maritime trip is plagued only by a handful of problems.
  20. Mar 3, 2015
    Sunless Sea is a little darker and less cheerful than its already morbid sister Fallen London, but it’s no less delightful.
  21. Feb 20, 2015
    Sunless Sea stresses a fondness for resource management, vaguely turn-based combat, roguelike principles of calculated disposability, and basic role-playing.
  22. Feb 18, 2015
    If you want a thrill ride, there’s always Assassin’s Creed: Black Flag. But if you want an incredibly well written adventure across something approximating a sea, there is no game like Sunless Sea.
  23. Feb 13, 2015
    The dark world of Sunless Sea is an amazing place where players who love exploration will enjoy a lot. This is an interesting game that offers a unique mix of genres like a roguelike and static narrative.
  24. Feb 11, 2015
    Wonderful writing resting on top of infirm foundations. Almost a classic, Sunless Sea falls a few leagues short of its final destination.
  25. Feb 11, 2015
    The action may not be up to quite the same standards as the writing, but the bizarre world of the Underzee is more interesting to explore than almost any other recent game world.
  26. Feb 11, 2015
    The static narratives and roguelike gameplay in Sunless Sea don't always gel together harmoniously, but Failbetter Games has succeeded in delivering a tense and engaging experience and a rich and atmospheric setting.
  27. Feb 10, 2015
    Sunless Sea is an interesting game that’s worth playing for those that appreciate a dark yarn, players that love exploration, and even the “let’s find out how to game the system perfectly” roguelike crowd. It’s a unique mix of genres that’s a finely crafted experience, marred by a few cracks in the cabin.
  28. Feb 9, 2015
    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.
  29. Every port is a unique and unforgettable adventure that comes together from pieces of past events and always gives the player a real, tangible choice. But the process of traveling between the islands is unfortunately lacking. [April 2015, p.66]
  30. CD-Action
    Apr 1, 2015
    Written narrative in Sunless Sea is almost as good as Shadow Run’s, thus inviting players to use their imagination to the extent rarely possible while playing more visually advanced titles. [04/2015, p.58]
  31. Feb 18, 2015
    Sunless Sea is one of the most interesting virtual journeys I've had recently. The stories we read during playing are definitely one of the best and most original - but after some time everything becomes a routine. Pratchett or Lovecraft fans will find something here but for everyone else it's a lottery. Simply put: Sunless Sea isn't for everyone.
  32. Mar 4, 2015
    Sunless Sea is in many ways a real stunning adventure, that dare to be original. Unfortunately the pacing feels a bit slow, and the dialogues aren’t that existing. Still, it’s a good choice for the hardcore adventures, that seeks something new.
  33. Feb 26, 2015
    There are no breathtaking vistas to behold, but still, Sunless Sea is a great destination for virtual tourists. If you only you didn’t have to suffer through the monotony and fight the hastily implemented, out-of-place rules.
  34. Feb 12, 2015
    Sunless Sea is a dark game combining Lovecraft-themed exploration with Victorian Gothic visual novels in exciting (and chilling) ways. The end result isn't perfect, but its sense of terror and wonder makes it a worthy follow-up to Failbetter's Fallen London.
  35. Feb 10, 2015
    Even the best stories and intriguing atmosphere is not enough if other elements do not match their level. Constant repetition makes the dark sea adventures less and less interesting with each try.
  36. Games Master UK
    May 6, 2015
    Unforgiving and tough, but the exploration of an unusual world can be fascinating. [May 2015, p.63]
  37. Apr 3, 2015
    Sunless Sea is an ambitious work that attempts to capture the sheer kinetic thrill of discovery in a bottle without the inevitable entropy of player completion depleting it, and falls well short. The promise of lengthened replayability only makes the methodical pace a joyless grind at times.
  38. Feb 18, 2015
    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.
User Score

Generally favorable reviews- based on 133 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 86 out of 133
  2. Negative: 22 out of 133
  1. Feb 8, 2015
    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. Full Review »
  2. Feb 8, 2015
    You play as the captain of a steamship in a post-retro-fallen-lovecraftian London UK.

    Nice atmospheric game. Correct graphics and sound for
    You play as the captain of a steamship in a post-retro-fallen-lovecraftian London UK.

    Nice atmospheric game. Correct graphics and sound for and indie release. The storytelling is good, a bit confusing at times because of the language used. The game is mainly that storytelling, and a lot of exploration. It can be slow and boring at times because of the sluggish pace.

    Overall a nice indie game, but it sure doesn't deserve the 10's I've seen on several critic/user reviews.

    In mi opinion it deserves: 6.5
    Full Review »
  3. Feb 22, 2015
    If you are thinking of buying this game, I have a better idea. Pack some food and get in your car. Spend the price of the game on gas. DriveIf you are thinking of buying this game, I have a better idea. Pack some food and get in your car. Spend the price of the game on gas. Drive somewhere you've never been. Get out, look around. Enjoy the day. Have a picnic. When the sun goes down, try to get home without running out of gas. You've just had a better time than playing Sunless Sea. (If you don't have a car, put the money in a coffee can marked "Savings for a Car." You will still have a similar experience.)

    This game is truly a waste of time and money. Sunless Sea tries to be a lot of tantalizing things, but does just about all of them poorly. Combat is atrocious, exploration is tedious and unrewarding, movement is inexcusably slow, the "story" seems to be an assemblage of set pieces with no interconnection or apparent coherence.

    My first biggest problem on a game level is a fundamental one. I don't understand why this game calls itself a roguelike, or features permadeath. Since it is supposedly story-driven, if you are expected to frequently die then you just sit through the same story elements every time after every restart. I would opine that the fact that you have the option to turn the roguelike aspect off indicates that it was an early concept that became obsolete during development. I do have more cynical ideas about why it exists, though.

    My next biggest problem is the speed of the game. Your ship is inexcusably slow, even with upgraded engines. Maybe later ships are better, but the price of these ships is so steep I never got a chance to try one (the reward-to-cost balance is an issue of its own). Regardless, to somehow make enough money to buy better ships and equipment, you will waste hours watching your little boat inch its way sluggishly across the pretty but mostly non-interactive environment. A simple fix would have been a fast-forward button, featured in many similar games. I suspect that the choice not to include such a boon, however, was in deference to maintaining the atmospheric quality of the game. I could see the difficulty in progressing as being in deference to the atmosphere of the game. The pointlessness of everything you do as being in deference to the atmosphere.

    These unenjoyable aspects foisted upon the player bring me to the core problem with this game; The creators' artistic vision is allowed to interfere with the player's good time. Every element that would make Sunless Sea a competent game seems to have suffered in favor of story and atmosphere. That could be excused, to a limited extent, if the story were well put together. By the game's nature of exploration and horribly ill-conceived roguelike elements, however, there is little hope for a linear plot. It feels like a series of set pieces strung together ad hoc because it is, out of necessity. If instead of making a game the creators had created a short animated film with a coherent story set in this universe, it might have actually been good. This game is not, and should not exist.

    I was actually excited when I first heard about Sunless Sea. I loved sea-trading games like Port Royale but wished they had better developed worlds, I loved FTL, which some crooked critic compared it to, and sure, steampunk, I'd love to see that done well in a game other than Bioshock for once. Review scores for it were really high. But Sunless Sea is not a game. Every time I tried to give it another chance I quit playing with an unpleasant taste in my mouth, wishing I had my time and money back. Everything in this game is done better elsewhere. The art is pretty, though in no way does it justify a game.
    Full Review »