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I mentioned this on the "What are you playing" thread, but I think it deserves its own space.  I've been playing this with every free moment I can grab since Saturday (when it came off Early Access), and it is really cool.  Plus, it's right up the alley of folks who enjoy exploration, moody atmosphere, and weird/interesting writing in games (which, I've gathered, tend to be shared interests of many folks here). 

 

I've seen it described as a Roguelike.  It really isn't, in my estimation.  Sure, it defaults to permadeath-on, and large parts of the map re-shuffle with each new game, but so far it seems to lack the swingy "Haha, UR DED despite doing nothing particularly wrong" element that defines the Roguelike experience to me.  Beyond the first few "figuring stuff out" hours, when you die in this game, it's probably because you attempted something stupidly risky-- tried to attack a large and unfamiliar zee creature; set out for a distant location with insufficient fuel/supplies; picked a chancy dialogue option while in a vulnerable situation; double-crossed some smugglers/Mongols/devils; etc. 

 

I'd call it an exploration game with light RPG, action, and trading elements and very heavy narrative elements, in a Victorian Lovecraftian nautical setting.  The narrative elements take the form of stories associated with different ports, with officers on your ship, with quest-givers, etc., that you uncover as you explore and complete objectives.  And it is written in lovely understated prose, letting the reader's imagination finish painting the picture of all the very weird characters and locations you run into. 

 

 

It's not for everybody, in that you do a lot of reading, and the sailing about goes rather slowly.  I find the slow revelation compelling when pushing into the unknown, but if you're shuttling back and forth between London and other ports you've already uncovered, it can get a bit tedious.  The ship-upgrading could use more serious design attention.  The trading aspect is rather under-developed-- this isn't a game where comparing commodity prices and figuring out trade routes is a significant part of what you're doing. There are only a couple reliable money-making activities right now, apart from completing quests, and repeating those can get dull. 

 

 

So, anybody else been zailing through the 'Neath lately?  Any favorite stories you've found that others should seek out?  Visage and Nuncio have been my favorite ports-of-call so far. 

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Purchased this on GOG, wish I would've spent my money on something that wasn't ****.

 

I must say I'm impressed that someone managed to create a game that was worse than Arcanum, but after several hours of "Zee-beasts" I'm quite sure I do not wish to be similarly impressed again. The visuals are quite repetitive and bland and the combat system is on par with Arcanum in terms of quality. The writing and lore is a pale imitation of HP Lovecraft's work and is just above what I would expect from a pretentious high school senior tripping on acid to turn in as a creative writing assignment. Apparently romance is in as well, though I was thankfully spared encountering that in the (roughly) five hours I wasted playing this.

 

All in all, I'd say you'd be better served giving the $17.09 current asking price to a homeless junkie and watching a SyFy original movie than bothering with this.

"To be fair, if I was married to Milla Jovovich, I would also be happy just making movies that show off her butt." - Hurlsnot

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I bought it but I haven't gotten around to playing it yet

 

I see it is by the same people who made the Dragon Age text adventure and am wondering if it is anything like that

 

 

EDIT: Actually, I don't know why I said I bought it. It was gifted to me on GOG

Edited by ShadySands

Free games updated 3/4/21

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Purchased this on GOG, wish I would've spent my money on something that wasn't ****.

 

I must say I'm impressed that someone managed to create a game that was worse than Arcanum, but after several hours of "Zee-beasts" I'm quite sure I do not wish to be similarly impressed again. The visuals are quite repetitive and bland and the combat system is on par with Arcanum in terms of quality. The writing and lore is a pale imitation of HP Lovecraft's work and is just above what I would expect from a pretentious high school senior tripping on acid to turn in as a creative writing assignment. Apparently romance is in as well, though I was thankfully spared encountering that in the (roughly) five hours I wasted playing this.

 

All in all, I'd say you'd be better served giving the $17.09 current asking price to a homeless junkie and watching a SyFy original movie than bothering with this.

 

Actually, the writing is *nothing* like Lovecraft at all so that seems like a weird thing to complain about. Not that I'd defend the writing in it, I don't think I've played a game where the writing varied so wildly. Most of the earlier ports and encounters I had in the game were indeed that special kind of pretentious that only made me shake my head. But some of the ports and stuff I got to a bit later were actually quite good. But yeah, it's definitely not trying for Lovecraft in tone (unless you count the horror-aspect of it as Lovecraft), it's way too whimsical and "anything goes" for that.

 

As for the game, well... I'm kinda enjoying it, it's addictive in a way. But I have to say that most of the time I keep wishing that they had done *this* different, or scrapped *that* thing etc. I'm in love with the idea of the game, and while the setting seems to be all over the place, it's still an intriguing place to set a game in. But yeah, there are way too many stretches with nothing happening, the questing system is annoying (and fed ex-y), the writing is just painful at its worst (though with bright spots as well, stuff like the Mirrored City was quite good for example) and it just feels to repetitive and static for being an "open-world" game like it is. It also feels a bit too much like a browser-game (leftovers from Fallen London I guess?) in many ways, not the least in how it presents the quests and what you need to solve them etc.

 

I dunno, I still find it addictive and kinda relaxing to play but I must say that I'm disappointed overall. I thought (still think) the general idea is superb and intriguing but the execution is lacking. The 10/10 review at Eurogamer is pure bullcrap if you ask me.

 

I would love for some more interesting gameplay while at sea, more randomization (take a page from Pirates in how boats and creatures would attack each other). It also needs a lot more random events while sailing because it gets really boring at times. Especially the beginning of the game is a bit of a boring slog. Do more with the sanity mechanic. The potential is there, but yeah, it really falls short at the moment I think. I dunno, hope they'll keep adding things to the game in updates.

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Tough to say.  I wouldn't characterize anything I've seen so much as "horror" as I would "encounters with the unexplained and unexplainable."  The objective isn't so much to scare the player as it is to lightly describe what makes your character/crew get antsy (i.e., gain points on the "terror" meter).  And, you know, you can smuggle souls and resort to cannibalism if your supplies run low at sea, which I guess is somewhat terrifying in concept, but CRPGs have deadened my revulsion to in-game cannibalism by sheer repetition.

 

 

And, yeah, the combat is dead simple.  I have most fun when I don't prepare for fights and instead try to avoid anything that looks scary.  Makes the voyages a little more tense.  Bats are good to kill because they're weak and you'll either get a unit of supplies with a small terror cost or a small Terror reduction.  The weakest of the pirate ships is also easy pickings, and usually produces a useful random find.  Everything else gets avoided, which is pretty easy to do if  you're willing to take on the additional Terror of having the light off for a bit.

 

I suspect that my fascination will fade a bit after I've been to all the available ports and completed a few of the longer-developing quests-- it's the sense that absolutely anything could be out there that keeps me thinking about the game when I'm not playing it.  The mechanics of the trading, combat, and quest design probably aren't enough to keep me re-playing the game.  But for a sub-$20-new small-studio game, that kind of long-lasting appeal isn't necessary for me to think of it as a worthwhile purchase. 

Edited by Enoch
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The game does sound compelling on a number of levels, I would like to see what people think about it after playing it for 20 + hours

 

If its still enjoyable after that then its well worth the money 

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  • 11 months later...

Can I do a necro? Can I pretend that I didn't notice or something? Anyway, as I keep trying to push on anyone who's willing to listen (along with anyone who is not, incidentally), I consider Sunless Sea to be the best written game which came out in 2015. Some people believe the writing is pretentious, but it really is anything but - it's highly practical at what it tries to convey and achieves that splendidly. So, what is it trying to achieve, exactly? Two things which are interconnected, actually:

 

1) It tries to give player a feeling of wonderlust. It does this by only ever giving player enough information if he's willing to search for it and then piece that information together, yet teasing him with snippets of interesting foreboding of things to come. And that's the genius of this game's writing - it's not just random words cobbled together to get an emotion out of the player, they carry actual meaning and as long as you're willing to properly read and connect the dots, those words convey a wonderful world and stories within it.

2) It still leaves a lot of room for imagination. Oh don't worry, it's not one of those cases of a game which will only make sense once you make up 90% of the lore in your head, the essential pieces are all there for you to find and figure out. But a good chunk of what's going on is left for you to imagine. That's how the game evokes Lovecraft the most - it tells you what happened, but never goes into detail and, willing or not, you will fill in the blanks with whatever terrifies you, makes you happy or concerns you the most.

 

Anyway, Sunless Sea. Buy it. It's great. It's not for everybody, it's slow and you'll read a lot, but it's great. Oh, and since this was posted, a bunch of free DLC in form of new stories came out. You can find and build your own harbor town, among other things. If you can prevent sun from shining on it that is.
 

The game does sound compelling on a number of levels, I would like to see what people think about it after playing it for 20 + hours

Depends on the kind of person you are, but if you purely strive to beat the game as opposed to exploring every nook and cranny, it'll take you anywhere between 10-15 hours. Yes, I assume you still care, almost a year later :-P

Edited by Fenixp
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