Entropy and empires collide in Sunless Skies, the best game of 2019


I don’t pay you Patreon money to receive special rewards Tom, I pay you Patreon money to hopefully allow you to keep turning out content like this. Knocked it out of the ball park, well played!

I find myself slowly migrating away from AAA to niche simulation and indie titles. “Games” have so much potential for powerful storytelling, but the industry is still clumsily immature. The coordination of gameplay with narrative is steadily improving though, and indies seem to be where that is occurring fastest.

Based on Tom’s recommendation I played Oxenfree over this past weekend and feel that it was worth my time. Not there yet, by a longshot, but a step in the right direction. Now I am looking closely at Sunless Skies, a title I would probably never have found on my own. Thanks Tom for pointing it out. Here’s to hoping it pushes further ahead toward that grand potential.

Dinosaur bones on the moon is a flourish on top.

It’ll be awhile before I get a chance to play Sunless Skies, but I put a hold on Brannen’s book as soon as I read this. Thanks for the review!

The review got me excited for this and I googled and discovered it’s coming to the Switch! No idea when, but I can probably wait for that version with my current backlog. That’s the platform I can play most often, so I’m excited for that.

And that should also be the Sovereign Edition which will be (probably) the final, feature-complete/story-complete version of the game.

And Xbox, and PS4! I mostly play stuff on my Xbox, but the comment upthread about playing in VR makes me want to try that with PSVR. Probably too low-rez, though. And yes, it is the Sovereign Edition for all three.

Thanks for the review, Tom. It’s really well written, and you said all the right things to get me in (not that that was your goal). I loves the writing in FL, but the gameplay was stupid. I actually really like Cultist Simulator, but the need to go through the entire game to get to New Game+ just kills my interest. Hearing that they struck the right balance between gameplay and exploration makes me happy.

There’s always going to be a large number of mainstream gamers who spend lots of money and don’t want any of this.

Done the exact same thing!

I finally read the review. That felt very abstract. I guess I won’t really understand the review until I play the game one day. I felt the same after Fallen London’s review. I have this abstract idea about what’s in the game, but it’s obscured by London fog.

It won’t matter when you beat Tom’s level on the Sunless Skies leaderboards.

Yep. Same deal as movies. The difference is that movies have matured and artful narratives which take full advantage of the medium exist.

Can’t wait for the same to be true of games.

This is currently 50% off on GoG.

I always knew my life would end at the bottom of a bottle.

Oh hell no, you are not alone! I adore this too. Games I love playing in VR include Slay the Spire and Faeria. Both simple to play games that work oh so well with a Rift and a touch controller :-)

I’ve been playing a few hours and I’m really enjoying it. Sunless Skies gives me a great feeling of exploration, similar to Breath of the Wild. That said, I felt the beginning of the game was a little obtuse with regards to explaining mechanics. The prospect system is interesting, but in so much as it works differently than most RPG quest systems, I found it a challenge to find in the interface the information that I needed to understand what to do. As such, I burned through some of my money unnecessarily, not really understanding how the economy works. I may have to start over to avoid that type of stupid mistake.

One of the things the game really doesn’t make clear is that the places you can turn in port reports – which is a mainstay for building your funds up early on in the game and probably should be part of what you do throughout the game as you influence factions back and forth – are not actually in the main hub port. They’re smaller docks that are fairly close by the main hub port, but you have to explore to find them.

Once I figured that part out, the game is kind enough economically early on that I could absorb my trade and money/cargo management mistakes well enough. But until I solved that I was worried about funds for sure.

If only someone had bothered to mention how damned good this game was. Inconsiderate, really…

I’ve been home recovering from the flu, and this has really hit the spot. The pace is just a tad slow at times, but just about everything else is hitting the spot. And even though I’ve started a new captain upon each death, I think just having the option of reloading a save has taken a lot of the sting out of death. Also, train whistle!

This absolutely would have made my Top 10 for 2019 if I had bothered to even load it up then…