Sunless Sea Update Adds Main Storyline, Of Sorts

I’ve been ignoring all the talk of how good Sunless Sea is in favour of waiting until it’s finished, but it’s now so close that it’s becoming harder to resist. It’ll leave early access in February and a new update brings it “tantalizingly close to the finished article,” according to the devs.

Stop tantalising me, devs. It’s mean.

We celebrated Sunless Sea for its writing in our end-of-year list, but aside from expanding its world, much of the updates have dealt with bringing its combat and other systems up to snuff. This latest update seems to do a bit more of that, adding weather that slows you down and reduces visibility during fights; better combat animations; new weapon characteristics; and surprise sneak-attacks from submerged enemies.

There’s also, yeah, a bunch of new story stuff, including Your Father’s Bones, “the closest thing to a main storyline,” which has multiple endings. The full list of adds and tweaks and fixes is through at the Failbetter site.

Can I hold out from playing this for another month, or should I dive in now? Tell me.


  1. shrieki says:

    i´d say better hold off one more month. since this is a very text driven game i dont want to spoil it – waiting is what i´ve been doing and i guess i can wait some more. i did a sneak peek and i liked the new combat system and exploring seemed to be more smooth now …

  2. Shadow says:

    Can anyone who has played recently please confirm whether progression’s smoother and less grindy than it was prior to the combat overhaul?

    • Caelyn Ellis says:

      I played for the first time just after the combat overhaul and thought it was horribly slow and grindy. It may have improved since then, but it was still painful to play at that point.

      • Jonfon says:

        My main issue isn’t really how grindy it is (although it is, combat is like something from a mid-80s game), I could live with that. My main problem is basically dying and having to repeat pretty much the exact same grind over and over again.

        I’ve heard comparisons with FTL (or just Rogue-alike) used for it, but with FTL when you restart you get a new experience : You can pick a different ship, you’ll encounter new items and scenarios which will send you down a totally different path.

        Sunless Sea doesn’t do that (or didn’t previous to this release anyway, maybe it’s improved). You start in the same place and go through the same conversations and quests.

        The writing and worldbuilding is brilliant though, they just seem to need a decent game to hang it all off.

        • klops says:

          That’s my experience with Sunless Sea as well. I still hope very much that the finished product will be somehow different but why would it be? Perhaps the quantity and polish will add up to the game, my last experience was an early build so we’ll see.

          The FTL and roguelike comparisons piss me off for the very reasons you mentioned. It’s doing the same all over again.

        • ExitDose says:

          That sounds a lot like my experience with Expeditions: Conquistador on Hardcore Mode. I definitely think that some devs just don’t understand what makes permadeath work is variety.

        • Sir Frederick says:

          You can just save and reload. The permadeath mode is entirely optional.

  3. SputnikSweetheart says:

    Ooh, I noticed the big update on steam earlier. I’d like to jump in but I might just force myself wait for the full release for some lost at sea cannibal hijinks.

  4. Neurotic says:

    Yeah, I’m waiting for this to go full release too. Playing their web game in the meantime. Great stuff!

  5. klops says:

    In the last Sunless Sea update people recommended China Miéville’s The Scar for a great reading with a similar style. I’ve always got Sunless Sealy vibes from this webcom:
    link to

    • El Goose says:

      Thank you for this, looks intriguing.

    • zarniwoop says:

      Read the Scar!

      And Embassytown, and the City and the City, and Perdido Street Station, and King Rat.

      I give you permission to decide whether or not to read Kraken, and UN Lundun, and Looking for Jake, and Iron Council.

      • GunnerMcCaffrey says:

        This is a sensible policy and I support it.

        • lfcpops says:

          Seconded – Klops – I was introduced to these books in the same article.

          Yesterday I finished Railsea (fantastic) to complete my reading of his entire bibliography – awesome, just awesome.

          Sunless Sea – last time I tried it was fascinating, but repetitive – follow actions until you die, rinse, repeat…

        • yonsito says:

          And maybe don’t start with Perdido Street Station. It’s one of his best books but a little difficult to get into.

      • Erithtotl says:

        The Scar is sort of a sequel to Perdido Street Station but don’t have to read that first. The Scar is amazing. I loved ‘Kraken’. I didn’t enjoy Embasssytown as much as his others.

  6. El Goose says:

    I bought this a few months ago and gave it an initial 30 minutes before setting it down and haven’t picked it up since, now that I know it will soon be coming out of early access I might wait until then to give it a full playthrough. I think my initial reason for bouncing off might have been that I had slightly confused it with 80 Days when people were talking about it on podcasts, and thought it was a bit more text based that it actually is, I seem to be tiring of mechanics driven games atm so that appealed.

  7. CannedLizard says:

    My advice will be worthless. I bought it a few months ago, loved it (in spite of it’s slightly incomplete state it is still the best early access game I’ve played since Kerbal), yet still kind of regret not being able to come to it fresh when the final game comes out. I’m sure I’ll play it again once it’s fully out, but I feel I’ll lack something that I might getting coming to it fresh.

  8. Ham Solo says:

    Wait 1 more month and then into the depths with you.