Videogame (2014). Failbetter Games. Designed by Alexis Kennedy. Platforms: PC.
Expanding the world first seen in Fallen London (2009), Sunless Sea takes the player away from the smoke of Fallen London in order to sail and explore the mysterious Unterzee that surrounds it. The game is considerably different from the original, changing the genre of the game and expanding the compact, narratively dense world created in Fallen London.
The sunless "Unterzee" of the game moves the player away from London in a rickety exploration ship. The game uses elements of resource management which means that the player must regulate their movements carefully; spend too much time at sea and the crew will invariably starve, the ship will run out of fuel, or everyone will be lost to nameless terror after straying too far away from the light. The player can also die by their ship being destroyed or bankrupted through maintenance overheads. Every time the player fails, they lose all progress and most of their assets, being allowed to chose a only a partial amount of one quality to carry over to the next game. Game developers Failbetter have stated that the game is deliberately hard, possibly as a response to the perceived lessening of difficulty in more mainstream titles.
As with Fallen London, Sunless Sea develops an extensive, detailed narrative based around a Steampunk and Sorcery world inhabited by demons, Monsters, criminals and Bohemians. The eclectic storylines of the original game are expanded to other cities and locations within the sea, a drowned world again closely resembling an alternative London. [EMS]