Fallen London – formerly known as Echo Bazaar – is probably the only browser-based game not named Card Hunter that I thoroughly enjoyed. Yes, it had dreadful daily energy mechanics, and yes, it had a lot of grind. But in terms of creating a wonderful, funny, horrible, inventive, atmospheric, terrifying universe to explore? Wow.
And now, that universe (described by the creators as Victorian Gothic) is making the leap to a stand-alone graphical exploration/survival game. Not free-to-play. Not browser-based. Buy once, play whenever.
Sunless Sea, as the new game is called, puts you in charge of a steamship and has you explore the Unterzee, a great underground ocean. You can work as a merchant, buying low and selling high; you can pirate your way to success, sinking other ships and stealing their cargo. You can ply your trade by exploring beyond the known reaches of the Unterzee and returning to Fallen London with unknowable riches. As its inspirations include FTL: Faster Than Light, Sid Meier’s Pirates!, Don’t Starve, Strange Adventures in Infinite Space, and Elite, I’d wager it’s going to have plenty of scope for doing whatever you want.
But “whatever you want” will probably involve keeping a careful eye on your supplies and your fuel because both of these can run out, leaving you in great danger. Equally, light plays an important part: you’re underground, so there’s no sun to illuminate the world. Putting your lights to full certainly means you can see a great distance… but it also means the dreadful gibbering Things living in the ocean can see you much more easily, and it burns through your fuel a lot faster.
Sunless Sea is also as story-led as Fallen London itself, offering plenty of arcs, subplots, mysteries, romances, and more, many of which are randomised and remixed each time you play.
In short, it sounds like a more story-focused FTL: Faster Than Light, set in the utterly superb Gaiman-esque Fallen London universe. Which is pretty much exactly what I want, so I’m not sure how I missed this.
£10 will get you a DRM-free version of the game when its released, with higher tiers offering beta access, Fallen London content, exclusive ships, and more. The game has already hit its Kickstarter goal of £60,000, but £95,000 will see submarines added to the game so that you can sail the murky depths, and £125,000 will let you explore the heights of the Neath with a dirigible.
Six days to go. Get to it, readers.