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Sunless Skies is a new game from Failbetter Games, which puts you in the position of captain of a flying steam engine in a Victorian-esque world of wonders and terrors.
The game begins with the death of your previous captain and you mus take over the engine and steer to the safety of New Winchester.
This review is based on around 30 hours of play time, and I would say I’m around halfway through the game, at best.
Each city you visit has its own unique features. You can converse with characters such as the Amenable Host or the Parsimonious Chairman. Other characters may join your crew for a while, assuming you are happy to have the Repentant Devil or the Incognito Princess (comes with tiara) aboard your vessel.
You can find new trading opportunities, keep your ship and crew in good order. Also requiring to be kept in good order is your own mind. Don’t let your Terror get too high, or bad things will happen.
You can play the game in a combat-oriented mode, or focus on trade. Either way you’ll be doing a lot of exploring in this game. The game’s maps are generated anew for each game, a few rules govern which stations will be closest to New Winchester, but otherwise each game will see you needing to unravel the worlds anew.
Every so often you’ll discover new stations, which then have new story or trading possibilities. Other sites have their own mysteries, ancient lurking horrors, or strange encounters.
The game’s story is yours to write. You can take sides and affect the balance of power, or stay aloof and focus on the gathering of wealth, or of new knowledge and discoveries. It’s up to you.
As the game progresses you’ll be able to take your engine to other worlds. Albion, Eleutheria, or the Blue Kingdom.
I’ve enjoyed Sunless Skies through my first 30 hours of play, and expect to keep enjoying it as I go further.
I would recommend this game to anyone who enjoys playing for the experience rather than with a specific goal in mind. Sunless Skies has a whimsical feel, and does a great job of immersing the player in its world.
If this is what you like in a game, then stoke the engines, hire some crew, and head out into the strangest skies you’ll ever see.