Sunless Skies: Victorian spaceships included

Why the name? The stars are dying. The stars are the Judgements:
the inventors, arbiters and enforcers of the universe’s laws - but a
revolution has begun, and the stars are being murdered.Our influences include: the science fiction of H G Wells and C S
Lewis, the planetary romances of Leigh Brackett, Art Nouveau, Event
Horizon, trains.As with Sunless Sea, it’ll be rich with stories. This is the
Victorian Empire in space - the High Wilderness - a “blistering,
wonderful night” among the thrones and domains of the stars. The Empress
has abandoned London and led an exodus to the High Wilderness, to carve
out a new British Empire. With the Empire being increasingly
authoritarian, bohemians, revolutionaries and outcasts - like you - are
trying to make a life for themselves on its fringes.Sunless Skies will elaborate on Sunless Sea. We’re enhancing the
stuff we liked, and refining the experience. It will be a punishing
game, but respectful of your time.At full release, it will be available on the same platforms that Sunless Sea is available on now: Windows, Mac and Linux.We will use Early Access again, taking on board all of the lessons we learned from Sunless Sea.

I loved the idea behind Sunless Sea, but was really disappointed with the execution. I’ll wait to see how this turns out before jumping in.

I wonder whatever effect Alexis Kennedy’s leaving will have on this?

I will kickstart the hell out of this, loved everything they’ve done. OK that’s two games, but still batting a thousand for me.

Ditto. Challenging is one thing, but Sunless Sea invited you to venture into the great unknown without any guidance, then kicked the crap out of you for doing so. And don’t try to be careful, because that will end your game just as quickly.

I understand such complaints, and I admit that Sunless Sea is a niche game - as in for a very small market - but I thought the writing and the atmosphere were superb. And the music, of course. IMHO there is no better writing, stylistically, in all the gamingdom.

My biggest problem was some sort of dissonance between narrative and mechanical aspects of the game.

And my biggest problem with this new project is the absence of Alexis Kennedy. “The Disappearance of Alexis Kennedy” would be a great movie title, although not quite original. :)

SS was a game I really wanted to like, but didn’t. I agree the atmosphere was great, yet it didn’t give me enough taste of success to want to keep playing.

I’m guessing they’re going to try to course correct from what some people disliked about Sunless Sea. They say as much with the comment about “taking on board the lessons [they] earned from Sunless Sea”. This bit seems pretty specific:

In other words, they know most of you aren’t tough enough to endure a little boredom and emptiness in your games. Bunch of wusses!

Needs more Arterton.


I bounced off Sunless Sea as well, and really wanted to like it, as I loved the idea of it. Will be interesting to see how this turns out.

I’ve heard good things about Sunless Sea, but maybe I’ll just wait for this one.

Yeah, that was one of the titles I had in mind while writing the post. Gemma is so damn sexy in that movie!

Was in this camp too. Loved the writing and design, didn’t like the game mechanics as much.

I will keep a keen eye on this. The design, mood and writing of Sunless Sea were fantastic but there was no joy to be found in the game play. It was a world I really wanted to explore but could not bear the pain of doing so. It was intriguing enough for me to follow this one.

The positive reactions coming from critics like you and Rob Zacny do instill a desire to give Sunless Sea an honest attempt.

Here’s the thing with my earlier experiences with Failbetter games. When the strength of your game lies solely with the writing and even then doles it out meagerly I’d rather just be reading a book.

If you’re worried about about the writing, don’t be. There are many great writers at Failbetter and they’ve also built an infrastructure to effectively crowdsource narratives in the Storynexus engine.

Yeah, I mean, you didn’t need the threat of running out of fuel every five seconds. I’m not even sure food was necessary. The main factor, IMO, should have been managing terror of your crew vs the danger of drawing enemies to you as you tried to explore area of ever-increasing danger and uncover all th crazy stuff going on.

Yeah, I remember thinking I’d be super interested in exploring this game-world. . . if it weren’t for the game getting in the way of my doing so. But I suck ass at games, so, you know, I’d never make it more than 20ft out of port, or whatever.

Didn’t they leave some pretty big plot threads in Sunleass Sea hanging, anyway? Or did they eventually wrap it all up?

Received an interesting email from Failbetter with some facts about the game. Among them they list influences on Sunless Skies, such as the works of HG Wells and CS Lewis … and Event Horizon.

The Kickstarter for this just went up:


Oh uh, and here’s some hearts:

This is the part that got me most excited:

The skies are dangerous. Arriving at the major port in each region will save your game and your progress up to that point. If you set off to explore a new area and die before making port, you’ll be reset to the last major port you visited.