Fallen London, originally titled Echo Bazaar and developed by Failbetter Games, is a browser-based choose-your-own-adventure game set in "Fallen London", an alternative Victorian London with gothic overtones. The franchise subsequently expanded to other games, including a PC game of "survival, discovery and loneliness", Sunless Sea.
The eponymous bazaar of the game is a sentient being. It is curated by several Masters, each with their own control over Fallen London's business (Mr Apples, for instance, controlling agriculture, while Mr Fires rules industry). The monarch of the city, Her Enduring Majesty the Traitor Empress, sold the city to the bazaar to spare the life of her husband Albert, Prince Consort in 1861. The entire city was then taken a mile beneath the surface by a swarm of bats, where it has remained for over thirty years.
London is only the latest, fifth city to be taken underground in a pattern stretching across thousands of years, although certain storylines show that it has not lost contact with the outside world. Surrounding Fallen London is the Unterzee, a subterranean ocean with many islets and infested with monstrous sea life; experienced players may sail across it to visit other locations in connection with story lines based in Fallen London. Among these is Polythreme, a country where inanimate objects become alive and sentient (and source of Clay Men, the golems used as cheap labor in London), the Iron Republic, a devil-ruled place in which even reality is subject to the capricious and constantly changing written laws, and the Khanate, a rival nation to Fallen London made up of the descendents of the fourth city that was taken, Karakorum.
Fallen London has also found itself much closer to Hell: devils appear constantly and casually in various storylines, and even maintain an embassy in the city itself. A dream-realm, Parabola, is closer to London than to surface locations, and is sometimes visible through mirrors.
Players take the role of new arrivals to the underground down on their luck, and make their way to the cream of the crop of the city's various legal and illegal activities. Players are gentlebeings of leisure, plumbing the vices and secrets of Fallen London. They have no living expenses, and though players may choose a profession for a periodic income, they can publish a newspaper, serve out repeated prison sentences and feed deliverymen to a man-eating plant without harming their job security.
Stats are used to track the player character's abilities and their position in the questlines; a character may accumulate hundreds. Four of these are the character's main attributes (Watchful, Shadowy, Dangerous, Persuasive) and constantly used for succeeding in actions, though failure may also increase the corresponding menace (Nightmares, Suspicion, Wounds, Scandal). If any menace rises too high, the character is removed to a side location (such as Disgraced exile in the Tomb-Colonies for Scandal) to work it off.
The game can't be won, but can be lost. A questline to "Seek Mr. Eaten's Name," about destructive obsession, requires the player to damage their character in like manner repeatedly, until its completion leaves the character permanently unplayable. The game requires players to opt into this questline and warns them against playing it.
Sunless Sea is a roguelike spin-off of Fallen London that takes place in the same setting and around the same time period. The game was officially released on 6 February 2015. Sunless Skies' is in development following a successful Kickstarter in 2017.
Tales of Fallen London: The Silver Tree, a prequel to Fallen London, was released on October 23, 2012. The Silver Tree is also a browser-based choose-your-own-adventure game, but occurs roughly five hundred years before the time of Fallen London and focuses on the events surrounding the fall of the Fourth City, Karakorum, capital of the Mongol Empire. A tabletop game titled Knife & Candle (named for the competitive sport within the setting that combines elements of tag and a free-for-all murder spree) was in development, but John Harper stated that the game "didn't come together."
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- "The Thing About Echo Bazaar, or Why I Have Over Fifty Tattoos of a Nonexistent Aunt". Pissy Little Sausages. May 11, 2010. Retrieved April 27, 2011.
- The Escapist Staff (March 12, 2010). "The Escapist Awards 2009 – Winners Announcement". The Escapist. Themis Group. Retrieved April 27, 2011.
- Failbetter Games (2017-05-25). Fallen London.
I acknowledge that frustration is likely, other players may be enemies as well as friends, and I am more likely to fail than succeed. If I spend hard-won resources, or even Fate, and suffer from buyer's remorse or ill luck, no refunds will be forthcoming (unless the loss is the result of a bug). [This item exists to remind you what you'll come to if you continue the Mr Eaten storyline. You may use it to opt out, although this will not undo any damage you have suffered.]
- Matulef, Jeffrey (May 28, 2015). "Sunless Sea's predecessor Fallen London is coming to iOS". Eurogamer. Gamer Network. Retrieved May 28, 2015.
- Myers, Adam (27 March 2015). "Sunless Sea Sales and Funding Deep Dive, Part III: Early Access and Final Release". Gamasutra. UBM plc. Retrieved 30 March 2015.
- "Knife & Candle, a Game for Delicious Friends".
- "Knife & Candle, RE: Update?". Retrieved 11 August 2014.