Normally, if anything that I enjoyed were to add realtime combat, I’d plan a protest immediately. Whether I’m playing a game or chewing a pint of Grandfather’s Stout at the Dog & Whistle, the last thing I want is to find myself involved in a fight that doesn’t pause while I’m planning my next move. If it’s fisticuffs in the Whistle’s snug, I expect Tommy Champion to take a breather while I figure out whether to leg it or lob a tankard at his noggin. If it’s a naval shoot-out in a murky undersea realm…well, in the case of Sunless Sea I’m very glad that the move to realtime combat has been made. The pace and repetition of combat was just about the only thing that bothered me in Failbetter’s splendid creation.
The change is in pacing rather than control and technique. You still have to allow accuracy to build and keep enemies within range, but the battle occurs on the main map rather than in abstract. It looks splendid and I dipped my toes in the waters – unpleasant nibbles, some crustacean attachments – earlier to see how it all works. Very well, I say. I’m much more inclined to spend yet another weekend with the game now that my adventures won’t be interrupted by irritable bat syndrome in quite the same fashion.
We’ve made some changes to the way the map is laid out in terms of balance and variety. If you want to get the most out of Steel, we recommend you start with a new captain and a new chart. It’ll look better, and there’ll be more ports, so you can save more often.
Full notes here.