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Author Topic: Sunless Sea - Fail Better Games - PC  (Read 1154 times)
Falconeer
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on: November 12, 2016, 01:02:28 AM

Remember (Sid Meier's) Pirates!?

If you liked that game and have been complaining for 25 years about the lack of any true successor, here it is. Sunless Sea is fantastic.

This is a game about exploring distant and mysterious lands, where the disconnection from history, which was the brilliant but inherently limiting foundation on which Pirates! was built, gives the authors the tools to surprise us and to create the best seafaring game ever made in an unexpectedly original mix of Lovecraftian and Vernian atmospheres. As I mentioned, it takes a while to understand what the hell is going on with the UI and what is it with the inventory and quest log (?), but once you crack the surface of what was originally a clever browser game (Fallen London) you'll probably sink in the Sunless Sea and won't come out until you'll have explored every port at least once.

This game does an incredible job in making you feel like an epxlorer of unknown lands, and I can't remember any other game where I felt the urge to discover just another port only to see what stories it had to tell and what secrets or treasures or weird culture it could hide. This is the biggest strength of this game: the dark, bloody impenetrable underground sea rewards you with the best pioneering experience to date, as the hand-crafted locations, even when painted with broader strokes, are masterfully rendered and meant to inspire, unsettle and make you giggle. All at the same time.

Eventually, it is also a game about surviving. Making sure your boat is fueled, your crew is fed, and you don't go crazy and start eating your folks instead of leading them. It's a game about giant monstrosities, about romance, and not getting lost in your nightmares, not being killed by evil and unnameable forces, and not disappear without leaving a trace. It's not just another sandbox where you like the premises but can't expect a complete package for another three years. Sunless Sea politely asks you for your goal when you start playing, and then invites you to find the solution to the searing enigma that you created for yourself inside its pitch black pit of haunting maritime prose.

But is it fun? If you like reading, exploring, and exploring while reading, then yes, it is some of the best fun videogame money can buy.



(Don't worry about the map. Every game generates a different one)


apocrypha
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Reply #1 on: November 12, 2016, 07:07:29 AM

Well said Falc. I've put 30 hours into this and feel as if I've barely scratched the surface. You do need to be prepared to do a lot of reading though, but the writing is good enough that that's rewarding in it's own right.

Also of note is that you will die at first. Probably several times before you start getting the hang of it. But when your captain dies, your next captain can have a relationship of some kind to the previous one, e.g. their rival or pupil or a shipmate, etc. This results in some aspect of your previous captains progress being passed on, be it money or the map, etc. As you progress further with each successive captain you can unlock other legacies and leave even more things to future captains.

I've not picked up the DLC yet, Zubmariner, but I most certainly will when it drops in price a bit.

"Bourgeois society stands at the crossroads, either transition to socialism or regression into barbarism" - Rosa Luxemburg, 1915.
Falconeer
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Reply #2 on: November 12, 2016, 10:52:53 AM

I have to tell you. Zubmariner looks GORGEOUS. I got it automatically cause I backed this a long time ago, but wasn't particularly interested in the concept of submarines here. Then, I eventually unlocked the quest and tried out the new content and I must say that they outdid themselves. Not sure how much new stuff is there as I don't want to wander underwater until I have uncovered the whole surface map, but what I have seen seems outstanding.

apocrypha
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Planes? Shit, I'm terrified to get in my car now!


Reply #3 on: November 12, 2016, 12:48:49 PM

Cool. I've heard nothing but good things about it. I'm very skint though, but I'm nothing if not a patient gamer.  awesome, for real

"Bourgeois society stands at the crossroads, either transition to socialism or regression into barbarism" - Rosa Luxemburg, 1915.
Mandella
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Reply #4 on: November 12, 2016, 01:47:04 PM

This is one of those games where if you like it, you're going to like it a lot. If you don't, well, you're really not.

I'm one of the "like a lot" crowd, but still haven't picked up Zubmariner yet.
schild
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Reply #5 on: November 13, 2016, 05:05:57 PM

Apparently I got Zubmariner also. I should probably like, install and play the game.
Falconeer
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Reply #6 on: November 13, 2016, 09:03:53 PM

So you can bash it. Hard. Yes do that  why so serious?

MournelitheCalix
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Reply #7 on: November 14, 2016, 11:28:44 AM

I guess I just don't understand it.   I really hate this game and I thought I would love it.   I just don't understand how you do anything in it at all but run out of something and die.  To me a better indie game with a desperate atmosphere was The Flame in the Flood.   Pretty deep game, great resource gathering, awesome decisions you must make for survival, and explained enough that your not going WTF throughout it.

Born too late to explore the new world.
Born too early to explore the universe.
Born just in time to see liberty die.
Falconeer
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Reply #8 on: November 14, 2016, 12:01:30 PM

The WTF factor is a serious hurdle, I understand. The absolute lack of handholding is a surprise to me as developers know very few like it. And it's especially problematic in the beginnings as not only it is hard to run a profit, but you are trying to do that while fighting to understand the UI and the mechanics that will eventually lead you to make money or not. I understand why that could be enough to anger someone away, but at the same time it is in line with the philosophy of the game: you are exploring a dark and impenetrable sea. As such a clueless explorer, I would say that the learning curve is part of the experience and frankly, I liked it.

A few tips:

- You make your most basic money (and fuel) by getting to any port and getting a port report. When you give it back to the admiralty in London they will pay you and give you 1 fuel for ech report. That is the most basic way to make money, although very little as first.
- That also give you admiralty favour which you can spend if you are in trouble as they will fix your ship for cheap and/or give you extra fuel.
- Try not to engage in naval fights until you know what you are doing. Even when you can win easily you might get a ew scratches and repairing those isn't cheap.
- Killing animals and boats isn't as remunerative as one might think as you only get a few fragments (XP) and fuel and provisions. At the same time, fuel is 10$ (echoes) and food is 20$ so all things considered it's like you are saving money by killing stuff provided you don't get your boat hurt. Also, sometimes they drop items.
- When you go explore, make sure to look at your fuel and provisions BEFORE you leave London and make a point to turn back just before you have depleted half of what you have. Basic "point of no return" logic. You can still buy fuel and provisions in some ports (not all) but usually they are much more expensive than in London (Iron Republic has the cheapest fuel though).
- You will gain money very slowly in your first game. There are many ways to speed things a bit, but until you find these things out by epxloring there is no way for you to speed it up. Just enjoy the slow ride. By the time you will have uncovered the whole map you will have plenty of money.
- Trading isn't really viable. At least not until you get a very big cargo ship or you know exactly where to go, which isn't happening for at least 20 hours. There are some exceptions, but they have conditions so if you wanna write down what sells and buys and where go ahead, but don't think you can build a fortune by trading until you are pretty much an expert.

Bottom line: YOU MAKE MONEY BY EXPLORING. The more you uncover of the world, the more stories you learn, the more opportunities will show up. While I am sure people can find the grind here too, I don't think that kicked in for me until I had new places to visit or look for as they always provide something to work with in order to make some money. Sunless Sea IS SLOW but steady, it's an absolute feature and it's OK if you don't like it.

EDIT: This is not a survival game nor a hard one. The resource management part is there and it makes sense, but surviving is not the point of the game, nor is desperation. It's a game about exploring and reading and participating to stories in a "choose your adventure" fashion in a very unique and original setting.
« Last Edit: November 14, 2016, 12:23:35 PM by Falconeer »

Druzil
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Reply #9 on: November 14, 2016, 12:37:36 PM

I bought this game ages ago and I've never actually tried it.   Might be finally time to give it a shot  Oh ho ho ho. Reallllly?
Falconeer
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Reply #10 on: November 14, 2016, 03:36:15 PM

Extra beginners advice:

- When you get a tiny lantern icon at the top right corner of the chat box that says "Something awaits in port" it means you get a few more dialogue options in the next port you are gonna visit. Without the lamp-message, you only get a few basic options for that port (You can always get the Port Report as long as you don't have one). It's probably time-distance traveled based though, so as long as you go around you will always get it by the time you visit the next port. That expllains why sometimes you see things in a port that you don't see the next time you go there.

- Turning off the front lamp of your ship saves fuel, but increases the rate at which you acquire terror. Terror can be dumped by killing boats at sea, or by resting and carousing in London and a few other cities. It is very expensive though, so try to deal with having 30 - 70 terror at all times. It's not a hueg deal. Also, having sex and romances help losing terror.

- In order to access the Zubmarine content, you need to acquire submarine capabilities through a quest. It won't be immediately obvious so don't sweat it, it'll appear at some point. The Zubmarine adds content and a completely new layer so it's great that it comes a bit later when you are already familiar enough with everything else.

Druzil
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Reply #11 on: November 16, 2016, 11:18:12 AM

This game is pretty fun albeit a little slow.  I like most of the stuff that is going on minus a few minor things like icons that are too small and confusingly colored weapons (maybe they make sense once you understand them).  I do feel the need on my second run to get a notepad and write down things that I need to bring to each location, there seems to be a fair amount to keep track of.

Finally died my first time about 6 hours in.  I was starting to make some money so I loaded up on fuel and supplies and made a super long run.   I didn't think through the terror aspect of it though and ended up in a odd series of events that caused me to hit 100 terror and loose 7 crew members in about 1 minute.  After that I could barely move and ended taking too many risks trying to get back Oh ho ho ho. Reallllly?
Falconeer
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Reply #12 on: November 16, 2016, 01:08:44 PM

I think you can increase the size of all the UI elements and the fonts, separately. It's in the options.

I agree with you on terror, I underestimated it, until I reallized that it grows exponentially when you are farther away from home, and that's pretty cool. I love the blue tentacle that takes your crew (or was it a tentacle? Was it you? Was...)

Amarr HM
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Reply #13 on: November 17, 2016, 05:13:53 AM

Looks decent, but not quite seeing at as a successor to Pirates, think the main appeal of Pirates was the open oceans, era, atmosphere. This looks more claustrophobic, the artwork really reminds me of Bitmap Brothers.

I'm going to escape, come back, wipe this place off the face of the Earth, obliterate it and you with it.
Falconeer
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Reply #14 on: November 17, 2016, 12:20:01 PM

No claustrophobic at all. The open ocean here is bigger than Pirates! and the atmosphere is the strongest point of this game. This is a successor, but of course mileage may vary based on your love for the 16th/17th century and real history compared to the 19th and the fantastic literature of the time. Pirates! is in my all-time Top20 so I am not throwing it out the window. Just saying, this is wonderful. The only missing thing are the swords duel, but there's tons of stuff to make up for that.

Speedy Cerviche
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Reply #15 on: November 17, 2016, 12:25:11 PM

Very fun game I have had it for a while. Maybe time to get the DLC and start a new run.
Amarr HM
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Reply #16 on: November 17, 2016, 03:38:12 PM

No claustrophobic at all. The open ocean here is bigger than Pirates! and the atmosphere is the strongest point of this game. This is a successor, but of course mileage may vary based on your love for the 16th/17th century and real history compared to the 19th and the fantastic literature of the time. Pirates! is in my all-time Top20 so I am not throwing it out the window. Just saying, this is wonderful. The only missing thing are the swords duel, but there's tons of stuff to make up for that.

I think it's horror aspect that gave me the claustrophobic feel and the idea that you're on a what looks like an ironclad in an underground sea. This does look really atmospheric in it's own right, just navigating the sunny Caribbean in my trusty pinnace has a place in my heart. I'll give it a whirl on your recommend, does look fun.

I'm going to escape, come back, wipe this place off the face of the Earth, obliterate it and you with it.
Falconeer
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Reply #17 on: November 17, 2016, 05:58:40 PM

just navigating the sunny Caribbean in my trusty pinnace has a place in my heart.

For real. As I said, some of my best gaming memories ever.  Heart

apocrypha
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Reply #18 on: November 18, 2016, 01:03:35 AM

I think it's horror aspect that gave me the claustrophobic feel and the idea that you're on a what looks like an ironclad in an underground sea.

I know exactly what you mean and it felt very claustrophobic to me too, in terms of atmosphere not gameplay. I loved it but I think you have to be in the right frame of mind for it.

"Bourgeois society stands at the crossroads, either transition to socialism or regression into barbarism" - Rosa Luxemburg, 1915.
Amarr HM
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Reply #19 on: November 25, 2016, 04:13:19 AM

This is 66% reduced on Steam today, I assume for the whole weekend too.

I'm going to escape, come back, wipe this place off the face of the Earth, obliterate it and you with it.
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