Sunless Sea

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Sunless Sea
Sunless sea header.jpg
Developer(s)Failbetter Games
Publisher(s)Failbetter Games
Director(s)Alexis Kennedy
Programmer(s)Liam Welton
Artist(s)Paul Arendt
Writer(s)Alexis Kennedy
Chris Gardiner
Richard Cobbett
Emily Short
Meg Jayanth
Amal El-Mohtar
Composer(s)Maribeth Solomon and Brent Barkman[1]
EngineUnity
Platform(s)Microsoft Windows, OS X, Linux (Beta), iOS, PlayStation 4[2]
ReleaseMicrosoft Windows
  • WW: 6 February 2015
PlayStation 4
  • WW: 28 August 2018
Genre(s)Roguelike
Mode(s)Single-player

Sunless Sea is a survival/exploration roleplaying video game with roguelike elements developed by Failbetter Games. The game was released on 6 February 2015 for Windows and OS X following a successful Kickstarter campaign to crowdfund the project. The game takes place in the universe of Failbetter's browser adventure game Fallen London, in which Victorian era London has been moved beneath the earth's surface to the edge of the Unterzee, a vast underground ocean. On 11 October 2016, the game's first downloadable content Zubmariner was released, which allows players to explore beneath the surface of the "zee".[3] A sequel, Sunless Skies, was announced in September 2016.[4] It is currently in production and has surpassed its funding goals on Kickstarter.[5]

Gameplay[edit]

The player takes on the role of an Unterzee steamship captain, whose background and ambitions are customisable. The player can "win" by achieving their chosen ambition, such as becoming Fallen London's most celebrated explorer or amassing enough wealth to retire. Resources to achieve these ends are acquired by discovering new locations, trading goods across the Unterzee, battling ships and "zee monsters", and completing "storylet" quests. There are several roguelike gameplay elements, such as partially randomised maps and permanent character death, but subsequent characters can inherit some of their predecessor's possessions, and a player may create a will to ensure lodging and wealth for their successors.

The actual gameplay consists of two modes- the player controlling the movement of the ship on the map with combat taking place in the same mode, and a story mode where the player is presented with several choices (sometimes accompanied by a skill challenge) in a card-like format. The ship movement is quite slow. This, accompanied by the music creates an atmosphere of tension.

The Unterzee has multiple islands, with each island having its own storylet quests. To progress in the quests, the player has to provide an item or complete a skill check. To acquire the items, the player usually is not able to acquire them at that island and must go to different islands or defeat sea beasts. The skill check takes one of the player's five skills (Hearts, Iron, Pages, Mirrors, and Veils) and based on the value of the skill gives the player a chance to pass the test. Passing the tests often will give the player items, while failing them will occasionally harm the player and will often prevent the player from trying again for a period of time.

Several bits of writing and settings in the game are literary allusions – for instance, the very premise of a subterranean "Sunless Sea" is a reference to the poem Kubla Khan by Samuel Taylor Coleridge, which is further reflected by the existence of a Khanate and an "Abora Gate".

Development[edit]

On 3 September 2013, Failbetter Games launched a Kickstarter campaign to crowdfund Sunless Sea with a funding goal of £60,000. The project was successfully funded, receiving around £100,000 from over 4000 backers.[6] On 13 May 2014, the studio launched a Greenlight campaign to release the game on Steam. The game was approved 15 days later.[7] On 17 June, the game was soft launched on the developer's website, a Steam early access build was later released on 1 July. The game officially launched on 6 February 2015.[8]

A PlayStation 4 version, that includes the Zubmariner expansion, is set for release later in 2018.[2]

Reception[edit]

Reception
Aggregate score
AggregatorScore
Metacritic81/100[9]
Review scores
PublicationScore
Eurogamer10/10[10]
Game Informer8/10[11]
GameSpot6/10[12]
IGN8.3/10[13]

Sunless Sea received mostly positive reviews from professional critics on launch, with the writing and setting being the most highly praised aspects of the game. Aggregate review websites Metacritic and GameRankings assigned scores of 83/100 and 84% respectively.[14][15]

IGN awarded it 8.3 out of 10 saying "Sunless Sea gives you a wonderful world to explore that's packed with memorable written vignettes and danger."[16]

The game won Rock, Paper, Shotgun's award for best game writing of 2014, and was nominated for a Writer's Guild of Great Britain Best Writing in Videogames Award in 2015.[17]

GameSpot awarded it a score of 6.0 out of 10, saying "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."[18]

As of 25 February 2015, the game has sold 100,000 copies.[8] According to director Alexis Kennedy, sales had risen to 350,000 units by June 2018.[19]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Sunless Sea - Official Soundtrack". www.failbettergames.com. Retrieved 5 September 2016.
  2. ^ a b Matt Wales. Narrative-heavy nautical rogue-like Sunless Sea is coming to PS4, Eurogamer, 1 August, 2018.
  3. ^ Flynn, Hannah (11 October 2016). "LOSE YOUR MIND. EAT YOUR CREW. DIVE. Zubmariner is here!". Retrieved 11 October 2016.
  4. ^ Lovington, Christopher (25 September 2016). "Failbetter Games announces sequel to Sunless Sea called Sunless Skies". PC Gamer. Retrieved 25 September 2016.
  5. ^ "Sunless Skies - the sequel to Sunless Sea". Kickstarter. Retrieved 22 February 2017.
  6. ^ Myers, Adam (24 March 2015). "Sunless Sea Sales and Funding Deep Dive, Part I: Kickstarter". Gamasutra. UBM plc. Retrieved 30 March 2015.
  7. ^ Myers, Adam (25 March 2015). "Sunless Sea Sales and Funding Deep Dive, Part II: Greenlight". Gamasutra. UBM plc. Retrieved 30 March 2015.
  8. ^ a b 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.
  9. ^ "Sunless Sea for PC Reviews". Metacritic. Retrieved 9 January 2016.
  10. ^ Parkin, Simon (6 February 2015). "Sunless Sea review". Eurogamer. Retrieved 9 January 2016.
  11. ^ Tack, Daniel (10 February 2015). "Seafaring Stories To Tell In The Dark: Sunless Sea". Game Informer. Retrieved 9 January 2016.
  12. ^ Signor, Jeremy (3 April 2015). "Sunless Sea Review". GameSpot. Retrieved 9 January 2016.
  13. ^ Zacny, Rob (19 February 2014). "Sunless Sea Review". IGN. Retrieved 9 January 2016.
  14. ^ "Sunless Sea for PC Reviews". Metacritic. CBS Interactive. Retrieved 30 March 2015.
  15. ^ "Sunless Sea for PC". GameRankings. CBS Interactive. Retrieved 30 March 2015.
  16. ^ Rob Zacny (19 February 2015). "Sunless Sea Review". IGN.
  17. ^ "The Bestest Best Words Of 2014: Sunless Sea". Rock, Paper, Shotgun. 15 December 2014. Retrieved 30 March 2015.
  18. ^ Jeremy Signor. "Sunless Sea Review". GameSpot.
  19. ^ http://weatherfactory.biz/after-the-dawn-what-happened-when-we-launched-cultist-simulator/

External links[edit]