So, lately I have been playing a game called Sunless Sea. Just to make sure there aren’t any fans out there pulling their hair out – I’m working diligently on the sequel to Sleepless… But when I put the little ones to sleep in the evening my brain melts into porridge (When ice melts, you get water. When brain melts, you get porridge. Ask any scientist), and I find it almost impossible to write. So I play for half an hour.
I am not a game reviewer, and I will not give it a score. I will tell you that it’s good, and I’ll tell you about some of my experiences, but first, a couple of interesting side stories:
1. I know failbetter (the company who made this game), from their first game, Echo Bazaar. It’s a jolly good game, which I recommend to all… up to a certain point. That certain point is that it slowly becomes expensive. I stopped playing when I realized there was no ceiling to how much I’ll be paying this game. There even no subscription fee. There’s just… pay money to buy content, and I didn’t want to do that any more. Besides that it is one of the best games ever made in my opinion. Again, not a game reviewer.
2. When I created Misfortune (my own web game), I took a lot of inspiration from Echo Bazaar. Misfortune was released about a year after Echo Bazaar, and while failbetter flourished, Loadingames (which was my tiny three men company) tanked. I had a lot of time to reflect on the reasons one succeeded and one failed, and for a moment I did not feel bitter about it, though I was definitely jealous as hell.
3. When I released Misfortune, I asked Emily Short to review my game. Emily Short is, among other things, one of the writers of Sunless Sea. She said quiet charmingly that when she reviews a game, she reviews it honestly. I, completely assured that my game was the best thing to ever show up in the world wide web, told her I would expect nothing else. She then proceeded to decimate it. I uh… did feel bitter for a moment or two there, but I got over it. In fact, I read her blog occasionally, and love her writing. She also did a lovely job in Sunless Sea.
So… Sunless Sea. In a nutshell, a game where you play the captain of a small boat in an underground steampunk world. It is a game made for people who want to read and like interactive stories, which is pretty much the same as saying it’s a game for Michael Omer.
Things happen in this game. Things described in beautiful prose. A cannibalistic cult ate one of my crew mates… they may or may not have done it with my permission. I had a son born. In fact, once when I was a female captain, I gave birth to a son. I helped talking rats fight talking… pigs, I guess, to maintain their control over their island. I tried to smuggle some lost souls, got caught by the customs officer who confiscated the souls, then got into trouble with the provider of said souls… I nearly didn’t bounce back from that one, except that my cook jumped ship in a prison island, and they paid me for his debt. My soldier captain died, replaced by his correspondent, a poet, who’s ship was sunk by a huge crab. She in turn was replaced by a rival, a poet as well. I keep imagining them having some sort of epic poetry rap battle… (goes off to search for an epic rap battle of poets. Finds none, returns disappointed).
So, there’s a story there, and though a lot of it is pre-written there’s an insane amount of choice. It’s fun, thrilling and addictive.
Go play it.