Toot Toot! Sunless Sea’s Free Steam Weekend Now On

You doing anything nice this weekend? How about: exploring an underground ocean, discovering wonderful sights, meeting strange and terrible things, losing your mind, eating your own shipmates, and meeting a watery death? Sounds lovely, no? Quite! If you’ve not played Sunless Sea [official site] yet, perhaps not hearing our incessant murmuring about how splendid Failbetter’s roguelikelike is, then now’s your chance. The full game is free to play from now until Sunday, see (sea), and on sale (sail) too.

For those who already know the cruel seas well, Failbetter have also recently shared a short video peeking at its upcoming Zubmariner expansion.

Sunless Sea is great. Here’s what Adam said when declaring it one of the best RPGs:

“Almost every RPG takes an age to play through, but so few are measured, and even fewer actively encourage sombre patience. Sunless Sea is a nautical-themed roguelike (insert own acceptable number of additional likes here) in which your primary activity is sailing slowly across the titular vast and night-clad ocean while watching fuel and food meters nervously and praying nothing monstrous catches sight of you. There is admittedly rudimentary combat, but it’s first and foremost a game of cautious exploration, opening up a map littered with impeccably written vignettes which pull knowingly from across the spectrum of Lovecraftian, steampunk and gothic styles, then asking you to make potentially deadly or tragic decisions. Both literate and pulpy, and oozing playfully doomy atmosphere from every unspeakable orifice, Sunless Sea is a true original.”

That’s surely worth a bash! Head on over to Steam and you can download it now then keep playing until 9pm (1pm PST) on Sunday. If you want to keep it, a 40% discount available until Monday brings it down to £8.39.

For veteran saltfok, here’s that Zubmariner video I mentioned:

45 Comments

  1. Premium User Badge

    gritz says:

    Best thing I bought over the holiday sale, easily.

  2. Bull0 says:

    This is an absolutely lovely game that everyone should play.

    • Nim says:

      I absolutely disagree. This is one of the worst games I have ever played and I would not recommend it to anyone.
      But maybe it could have been a good book?

      • Premium User Badge

        Angstsmurf says:

        You’re wrong on the internet.

      • Baboonanza says:

        Having played many hours of Sunless Sea I at least partially agree.

        I think it could have been a good game had it been either a lot faster to play or not had permadeath. The problem is that to get anywhere in the game requires multiple hours of plodding around repeating the steps you’ve taken many times already. The you die in some stupid way and have to repeat the whole process. And god forbid you try playing without a wiki.

        It’s interesting initially and then just really, really boring.

        • Tiax says:

          I played without the wiki, haven’t died a single time in dozens of hours of gameplay.

        • BlackAlpha says:

          I completely agree. It’s interesting at first, but quickly becomes very repetitive.

      • Richard Cobbett says:

        You can turn off permadeath. There’s also a mod available called Unnecessary Overhaul that will speed things up.

        • Fnord73 says:

          You can turn off permadeath? Damn, I may have to reinstall, especially given the mod you mention.

          having said that, I got a bit turned off by the lack of possibility to store objects at homebase. If my ship had a full cargo for some quest objects I didnt even know at the time what to use for, I found no alternative to dragging them around or selling them and forfeiting a quest. The lack of info was a bit what turned me off Fallen London too, while i *like* obtuse games it was a wee bit too much. (and I put in around 50 hours)

        • Shiloh says:

          Unfortunately, Sunless Sea is one of *those* games for me – I fire up Steam, hover the mouse over it for a while, thinking I’ll give it another shot… and then I remember the glacial speed, the guinea pigs and the bloody corpse ferrying, and I click on something else.

          So being able to switch off permadeath – that would make a huge difference, I’ve got that bored of carrying tomb colonists to Venderbight at the beginning of each playthrough I’m considering becoming one myself.

          And speeding it up a bit sounds good too.

      • Bull0 says:

        I didn’t say it was perfect, but worst ever? Jesus christ.

        • Nim says:

          Ok fine, I used a hyperbole. It’s not the worst game ever and I have played worse… I think. It was marketed as a roguelite to me when I bought it so I thought I was getting something similar to Binding of Isaac, Spelunky, or Crypt of the Necrodancer. If you like this game, that is ok. I, myself would like a refund.

          • Bull0 says:

            Fair enough, the slow pace and repetition makes it a bit punishing to play as a roguelike, I just *really* liked the atmosphere and writing and had a lot of fun exploring.

      • Richard Cobbett says:

        (Or if UO hasn’t implemented that – there’s another in the Modding board on Steam. Possibly others too elsewhere. link to steamcommunity.com)

    • anHorse says:

      Forgot how good the audio is

      It’s so nice when you finally make it back to london safely and it kicks in.

      Think I’m gonna play it again now

    • Cross says:

      The score would be so much better if the composers hadn’t used a cheap second-rate sound library. So many of the instruments sound obviously fake. This is a soundtrack i’d love to hear the Londond Philharmonic give a spin.

      • TillEulenspiegel says:

        Yeah, you can definitely do better even with entirely sampled instruments. Whatever they’re using sounds really thin.

      • JOJOFACE says:

        I love how the instruments sound. It’s really eerie and the “fakeness” of the instruments adds to it, in my opinion. It doesn’t sound quite right and for me its like a blue note – it suits the dreary atmosphere so well.

      • Rizlar says:

        Yeah, I did notice that a little, but like minor quibbles with the art (why is so much of London built on a grid system?) it doesn’t really bother me, since the overall effect is so strong and pretty consistently low-fi.

        That said, best bits on the soundtrack are definitely the fiddle!
        link to failbettergames.bandcamp.com
        Worth listening until the breakdown about halfway through. There is a lot of stuff like that on the soundtrack – whole sections that don’t appear in the game!

        • Rizlar says:

          Meant to say – you know that track is the best because it’s the one you randomly start whistling in the shower despite last hearing it like 6 months ago.

  3. ain says:

    I liked the aesthetics, but I really couldn’t get behind the gameplay as much as I tried. For all it’s beauty and mystery, playing Sunless Sea feels like a slog to me.

    • thetruegentleman says:

      Yeah, the text adventure stuff is pretty great, but all the ships, weapons, and enemies feel the same, and none of your decisions ever seem to actually impact the world itself.

      • gunny1993 says:

        Well tbf, it is lovecraft, if your decisions made any difference at all that would be pretty non-lovecraftian

    • klops says:

      Yeah. What thetruegentleman said. The mechanics don’t work.

      The combat is useless since there’s not a reason to start the clumsy fights. You can just sail past the enemies which is faster and less boring. Also the “thrill and terror” of gaining horror and losing supplies doesn’t work since you can always turn back after you’ve lost half of your fuel/food. Of course you could sail forward but with the permadeath on and more than 10 hours of playtime behind me, I really did not see much reason in this since it raises the chances of crew mutinying so much. So unless you take big risks in the text adventures there’s no reason for you to die. I finished the game with my first character.

      BUT!! Despite all this moaning, there still is a lot of excellent text stuff and atmosphere. I really did not like the parts I described above. The game is too tedious and boring and grindy. But the writing, the places, characters… MM-yes.

      I wish they’d cut down the endless grind in the Zubmarine DLC and concentrate more on making the not-text gameplay enjoyable.

  4. GernauMorat says:

    Played the hell out of it at release. Looking forward to starting over when this comes out

  5. fuzzy says:

    I’ve never really played games like this before, so this seems a great opportunity to give it a go. I’ll find some quiet space this weekend and approach it with an open mind.

  6. JFS says:

    First time I ever make use of a Steam free weekend. Unfortunately, my weekend will only consist of Sunday. The game seems very nice.

    • A Gentleman and a Taffer says:

      Same! Finally a game I’ve been curious about getting a free weekend.

  7. vorador says:

    The worst thing: the beginning is hard to get your bearings, with no idea where or how to earn money
    The best thing: making it alive from an event and earning plenty of interesting stuff. Then dying on the way back

    10/10 would die again.

  8. Monggerel says:

    Actually, I found the stories really boring for some unspecific reason and the ocean of vomit green melancholy gave me a headache.

  9. Rhodokasaurus says:

    I liked the atmosphere but the game was missing any purpose. I don’t really want a game to ask me what I think the goal should be.

  10. Premium User Badge

    teije says:

    What a great experience & I can’t wait for what Failbetter does next. But definitely you’ll either love the atmosphere & story, or find it very boring and slow. Not much middle ground with this one.

    • klops says:

      I both love the atmosphere & storytelling and find the game very boring and slow.

  11. Premium User Badge

    Waltorious says:

    I’ve argued before about calling games like this “deathcrawls” instead of “roguelikelikes”, but in this case, it’s clearly a deathtrawl.

  12. shagen454 says:

    Wanted to like this one for many reasons; left it, not liking for many reasons.

  13. Jalan says:

    This is one game where I can’t help but wonder what some scenes would be like in a first person perspective. Even something like the devouring a crew member bit, if it were nothing but a sequence shown of someone attempting to run and then fading to black as a scream is heard. But mostly the exploration bits, since some of the Unterzee seems like it would be downright bone chilling to see from that perspective.

  14. PancakeWizard says:

    The game is utterly fascinating, but I’ve never played it for more than a few hours because I can’t get anything resembling progression in it.

  15. blainestereo says:

    The best way to play Sunless Sea is to hack the hell out of it. The world building, the exploration, the storytelling are superb but Failbetter guys have really weird ideas on balance and game design.

  16. SomeDuder says:

    I tried it, didn’t enjoy it. I’m guessing it’s a roguelike with a LOT of background story to dig into.

    It also ties in with FallenLondon.com, some kind of “game” which works like a visual novel, as in, your choices will determine your stats and missions etc. You can connect this Fallen London account to your Sunless Sea install and get free items, but ehh, whatever.

    The game itself isn’t visually appealing, unless you enjoy the color green in all its possible hues and tones. Combat is… basic? Press 1 and you fire a cannon, I guess you get more cannons and abilities later on, but I ran out of fuel and supplies after I helpen a rat colony steal a lightbulb from their unfriendly pig neighbors, which only rewarded some junk and an item which unlocks more crap later on.

    I suppose if you enjoy the stories and the setting (Steampunk hell-Earth?), this is basically the game that you’ll play for the rest of your life. For myself, I’ll just play an actual game where I don’t have to read pages and pages of dialogue and background. I’ve got books for reading and videogames for gaming, keep your disgusting hybrid out of my Steam Library plzkthxbye

  17. Vacuity729 says:

    Saw the headline, thought to myself “that could be worth a try,” looked at my Steam library and discovered I’d bought it on the Steam winter sale.

    Oh. Okay then.

  18. Captain Deadlock says:

    Tried it. Will probably buy it. A lovely little game. If only some of the big space trading titles had 10% of the atmosphere here.

  19. anHorse says:

    I don’t agree with the dislike here but I am someone who has always had a thing for naval/space trading games.
    Most of those have all the boredom and mechanical simplicity Sunless Sea offers without any of the brilliant writing.

    80 Days is a much smoother take on the idea of a narrative game but I think I actually prefer Sunless Sea because of the pacing the disliked sailing gives it.
    When I do make it into port the stories become more important because I earned them. I think it’s a quirk of my playstyle more than the game but I’ve never had that experience of struggle or barely making it in 80 Days.