Have You Played? is an endless stream of game retrospectives. One a day, every day of the year, perhaps for all time.
Most roguelikes or lites or whatever you prefer to call this newer generation of permadeath roleplaying games, I play to win. Or, at least, to try to win: with the intention of victory, even if the actuality of it is unlikely. In Sunless Sea, I always play as if doomed.
My small, lost, weak boat is bound to find itself in some watery grave before too long – my captain and crew starved or maddened or stranded, my tale at a premature end. Because that is the tale: the tale of how I adventured through a weird and uncaring place, and how that place ultimately took my life. My end, no matter how abruptly met or how cruelly-timed, always feels apt. The Underzee is not a place to live, it is a place to die.
I suppose I approach Sunless Sea as a sort of darkly blissful purgatory. Drifting through the dark, witnessing strangeness and suffering, trying to eke out some kind of existence even as the walls close in on me. I find this calming rather than harrowing. Where so many other games of this ilk get their Skinner box hooks into me, here I care little about upgrades or cash. I want only to explore further out, see how long I can survive for before beating a tricky retreat back to Fallen London, and anything I might do to my ship or my crew is only to serve that one golden objectives. Of seeing all I can before I die. Because I will die.