Patient Video Gaming in the Sunless Sea

Sunless Sea is a survival-exploration video game set in the world of Fallen London. I keep coming back to this title for its immersive storytelling and beautiful artwork.

Sunless Sea

Developed by Failbetter Games, an independent game development studio based in London, England, Sunless Sea is a survival-exploration video game set in the world of “Fallen London”, an alternate version of Victorian-era London that has fallen into a giant subterranean cavern.

There are some games I keep coming back to again and again. Some games you end up buying on Steam and then again on the Switch, tinkering away and enjoying a slow pace. Sunless Sea’s writing, artwork, and sound design come together before you even board you ship with a captivating atmosphere. The dark Victorian docks of Fallen London are full of characters, and the Unterzee is full of Lovecraft inspired beasts who are eager to devour your crew. It’s delightful.

Explore The Unterzee

Players take on the role of a captain of a steamship, navigating the dark and dangerous waters of the Unterzee. The gameplay focuses on exploration and survival, with players managing their ship’s resources and crew while making choices that affect the game’s story and outcome. The game features a branching narrative with multiple endings, as well as a rich and atmospheric world filled with strange and mysterious creatures.

Resource Management

One of the key mechanics in Sunless Sea is the management of resources. Players must manage their ship’s fuel, food, and supplies, and make sure they have enough to reach their next destination. They can trade goods at ports to earn extra money and gather supplies. The game also features a permadeath system, where the death of your captain means the game is over and you’ll have to start over with a new captain. This system adds to the game’s replayability and encourages players to make different choices and explore different paths to unlock new stories and endings.

Ship Combat

Another important aspect of the game is combat. The sea is full of hostile creatures, and players must be prepared to fight them off. Players can equip their ship with weapons and armor, and recruit crew members with fighting skills. They also need to be prepared to retreat if they find themselves outmatched.

Captain Reputation

Players also have to focus on the reputation of their captain, as building a good reputation will give them access to new ports, stories, and options. This can be done by making choices that will improve their reputation and avoiding actions that will harm it. Additionally, players can invest in their crew to keep them well-equipped, well-fed, and happy. This can pay off in the long run as a happy crew is more likely to help the player navigate the sea and overcome challenges.


Exploration is also a core aspect of the game. Players can discover new ports, and explore them to find valuable resources, trade goods, and recruit new crew members. This can also help players uncover new stories and unlock new content. Each captain also has an ambition that players can complete, which can help progress through the game more quickly and easily.


The game’s economy is also a crucial aspect of the game play, and understanding it can give players an advantage. Players can take advantage of trade opportunities, invest in profitable ventures, and try to earn as much money as possible.

Sunless Sea’s Beautiful Dark Atmosphere

Sunless Sea is a work of art. The 2D, hand-drawn art style creates a dark, eerie, and atmospheric environment immerse players in the world of Fallen London. The game’s writing and world-building have been widely praised by critics, and the game won the BAFTA Games award for Best Story and Best Artistic Achievement.

Team of Creators

The game’s success is due to the talents of its writers, led by Chris Gardiner who served as the lead writer and narrative designer. Gardiner has a background in writing and game development, and is known for his work on the Fallen London universe. The writing team also included other writers such as Olivia Wood, who was the lead writer of the game’s sequel Sunless Skies, and Emily Short, an interactive fiction writer who has worked on several games and interactive fiction projects.

Sunless Sea’s success also owes a lot to Alexis Kennedy, one of the co-founders of Failbetter Games and a writer and narrative designer on the game. Kennedy is known for his dark humor and his ability to create a rich and immersive world filled with unique characters and stories. He left Failbetter Games in 2016, to start his own studio, Weather Factory, but his work on Sunless Sea helped to establish Failbetter Games as a studio known for its narrative-driven games.

The game’s creative team also included Meg Jayanth, a game writer and designer who also contributed to the game’s world-building and storytelling. Her work was recognized with the BAFTA award for Best Story and Best Artistic Achievement.

Strategies for Success in Sunless Sea

Here are some more advanced strategies for winning Sunless Sea:

  1. Use your map: The map in Sunless Sea is an essential tool for exploration. Use it to plan your routes, discover new ports, and avoid dangerous areas.
  2. Master your ship’s equipment: Your ship’s equipment is crucial to your survival. Make sure you have the right weapons and armor to fight off hostile creatures. Upgrade your ship as soon as you can to improve its capabilities.
  3. Play to your captain’s strengths: Each captain has different strengths and weaknesses. Choose a captain that fits your play style. Use their abilities and skills to your advantage.
  4. Focus on your captain’s ambition: Each captain has an ambition that you can complete. Doing so will unlock new stories, options and gameplay mechanics. Focusing on your captain’s ambition can help you progress through the game more quickly and easily.
  5. Build a good reputation: Building a good reputation will give you access to new ports, stories, and options. Be sure to make choices that will improve your reputation and try to avoid actions that will harm it.
  6. Invest in your crew: Your crew is essential to your survival and investing in them can pay off in the long run. Feed them and keep them happy.
  7. Take advantage of the game’s economy: The economy of Sunless Sea can be complex, but understanding it can give you an advantage. Take advantage of trade opportunities, invest in profitable ventures, and try to earn as much money as possible.
  8. Keep a balanced crew: Such as fighting, navigation, and engineering. This will ensure that you can navigate the Unterzee.
  9. Learn the game’s mechanics: Learn how combat works. Learn how to manage your resources. Learn the game’s economy.
  10. Play multiple runs: Sunless Sea is a game with multiple endings. Different choices can lead to different outcomes.
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