July 3, 2014 5:30 AM | Konstantinos Dimopoulos / Gnome
Karl the money-hungry poet is dead and so is Helga the idealist war veteran. And Toki too, though it was as fine a captain as one could expect from a silent, shadowy and heavily bandaged entity. Gustav the natural philosopher on the other hand, a person whose greatest ambition is compiling the definitive Unterzee Atlas, is doing fine and is currently sailing my ship through the Sunless Sea.
And I do say my ship, as it is I who has been the --malevolent, some would say-- force driving those poor souls to their doom, while reveling in the islands they discover, the storylets they provide me with and the brilliant characters they encounter. The Sunless See is, after all, all about the delicious exploration of an excellently written and atmospherically illustrated underground ocean where the harbour of Fallen London seems to be reigning supreme.
It's a weird and masterfully constructed world filled with all kinds of stories, characters and horrors. Mainly horrors, that is, and an overpowering Shadenfreude effect. It is also contained within the Fallen London universe, though no previous experience with it is required. Not that any experience with a Victorian version of London that has been stolen by bats could ever be a bad thing, mind you.
Besides, Failbetter games, the developers responsible for both said web-game and the way more streamlined Sunless Sea, really do have a certain way with words and worlds. They make them shine. They have flair and they can't help but pull one into their creations.
Now, I could go on about the simple yet appropriate combat mechanics and about how each island you discover comes alive with its own stories and history. Or even about how the terror(s) of sailing the Unterzee can lead to mutinies and how successfully traversing it captures the spirit of Sid Meier's original Pirates! game, but I will not. I will instead let you know that after one last trip to the Tomb Colonies and their not-quite-dead (but very, very bored) inhabitants, my sweet Helga had tea with an exiled aristocrat from Hell only to perish a few days later at the stony hands of the Unfinished.
OK, I'll also tell you that even though far from complete the Sunless Sea is already a fantastic game. And one you can get early access (Windows, Mac) to too via both Steam and the Humble Store.