Officially, I am a war vet, setting out to find the bones of my father in a tiny vessel seemingly designed to sink and deposit my own bones in the nearest puddle.Unofficially, I am the smartest captain to have ever sailed the Sunless Sea. Since I received word that my coming journey would involve a lot of reading, I did some writing of my own before embarking. Well, not writing so much as editing. Editing a config file. Not enough to break the game, mind you. I simply changed certain values enough so I wouldn’t simultaneously run out of fuel, have my crew eat one another, and succumb to horror-induced panic immediately after leaving shore.
What should you know about Sunless Sea? London’s a mile below ground, in a very big and very damp cave. Everyone’s super weird. There you are.
It may seem like you can travel from port to port, making enough money through trade and battle to upgrade your ship. This isn’t even remotely the case. Everything hates you. There’s no profit to be made.
The currency you’re most likely to encounter is the written word, often in the form of secrets, news, reports, and choose-your-own adventure sequences. The writing in all of this is greatNot just “good for a video game, I guess”, but genuinely clever and atmospheric and playful. If it pulls you in you’ll spend hours uncovering the entire map just to wring the stories out of every creep and haunted mushroom lighthouse.
Combat is relatively straightforward. You target an enemy. You wait for your men to get a targeting solution. You tell them to fire. You slam the boat into reverse and repeat your curse word of choice, realizing you’ve just shot a living iceberg that is going to eat you.
To feel better about yourself, do what I do. Avoid everything. Except bats. You can kill bats in one or two shots, so blast them at every opportunity and pose heroically. Be prepared to flee if anything challenging like, say, a crab or a starving man in a rowboat sees you.
Back to my journey. You know, Dad’s bones. How’s that going?
I’ve hired a shitty one-handed magician as my ship’s engineer, a decision almost entirely based on my curiosity to find out if either of his distinctive qualities could possibly apply to his new job. I’ve transported a mummy in a casket to a distant port without knowing whether they were passenger or cargo. While scouting a strange building I’ve accidentally spied on a trio of perfectly nice sisters, one with bats living in her hair.
So it’s going pretty well. Obviously.