Sunless Sea

Good
  • Quirky setting with mysterious events that are paired with fantastic narration to create ambience
  • Gripping rougelike core gameplay loop that lets you choose your own win condition
Bad
  • Slow pacing that leaves you with plenty of unnecessary downtime while playing
  • Combat lacks significant depth and quickly becomes the worst aspect of your Sunless Sea adventures
8

Sunless Sea explores a dark world within the same universe as Fallen London where you’ll control a seafaring vessel and its crew in an effort to achieve your selected characters ambition. Originally released on Steam in 2015 with a subsequent PlayStation 4 release in 2018 and Nintendo Switch and Xbox One in 2020 allowing more gamers the opportunity to step into the gothic horror world of Sunless Sea.

sunless-sea-gameplay-fallen-london

For those unfamiliar with the Gothic Victorian inspired setting of the developer’s other game (Fallen London) Sunless Sea revolves around the city of London being sunk into the ground and connected with the underwater ocean known as Unterzee. With this sinking into the Earth London has become a vast series of islands with the water filled with monsters and other terrors that players will encounter during their sea journey. Sunless Sea clearly takes inspiration from Lovecraft with a game world that is mysterious, terrifying and everything in between.

The start of each Sunless Sea adventure begins with the creation of your captain who will lead your crew (known as Zailors) which requires a background and ambition to be selected. Backgrounds vary from a poet to a priest, philosopher and a veteran amongst others which impact upon your initial bonuses.

sunless-sea-gameplay-exploration

Meanwhile ambition alters your win condition in each Sunless Sea attempt with options available such as fulfilling an explorers dream, wealth or recovering your father’s bones requiring you to approach the game mechanics differently. Players can also recruit officers to command their ship alongside them who join your crew and bring their own effects to your statistics while filling roles like cook, engineer, surgeon and mascots.

It’s in altering the combination of these mechanics above combined with the randomised elements of the game world and rougelike death mechanics ensures Sunless Sea can be replayed multiple times. Like other roguelike titles death is definitely something to be embraced and players are unlikely to earn success in their first journey into the Unterzee. To assist in achieving your ambition though players can pass on 50% of a selected statistic to their new character to make your following journey’s slightly easier.

sunless-sea-gameplay-combat

While Sunless Sea includes ship based combat, exploration and randomised story components the core gameplay revolves heavily around managing your ship, consumables and crew to ensure you can optimally traverse the deadly waters and capitalise on opportunities that present themselves. With careful management and sometimes sacrifice you’ll be equipped to accept any opportunity that comes your way or be established enough to fight off a significant threat. While players do need to be capable at the Sunless Sea combat mechanics careful decision making, exploration and discovery are likely to deliver the bulk of your entertainment.

Summary:

  • Explore the dark sea world of Unterzee that is filled with terrors, monsters and other strange events.
  • Design your captain with their own backstory and ambition which ultimately sets your win condition.
  • Manage your ship (engine temperature, hold capacity, hull, quarters), consumables (Zailors, fuel, supplies) and crew morale (terror and hunter) as you explore.
  • Roguelike core gameplay loop with death coming often although players can pass on 50% of one statistic to their successor.
  • Countless random events as you recruit officers, engage in combat and make difficult decisions that impact your statistics.

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Review Platform: PC

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Written by
Samuel Franklin
Samuel Franklin is the founder and lead editor of the Games Finder team and enjoys video games across all genres and platforms. He has worked in the gaming industry since 2008 amassing over 3 million views on YouTube and 10 million article views on HubPages.

Games Finder is a Steam Curator and featured in the aggregate review scores data of MobyGames and Neoseeker.
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