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Review

Above all, one thing remains the same in the implementation, of course: If you like exciting stories, you should set your sights on Sunless Skies! The Lovecraft-inspired adventure will take you to a fascinating universe of many mysterious, bizarre, and often dangerous episodes, which are among the best-written texts in the field of video games....

Sunless Skies: Sovereign Edition

  • Greg Burn
  • Jun 15, 2021

Above all, one thing remains the same in the implementation, of course: If you like exciting stories, you should set your sights on Sunless Skies! The Lovecraft-inspired adventure will take you to a fascinating universe of many mysterious, bizarre, and often dangerous episodes, which are among the best-written texts in the field of video games.

However, it's not just a matter of reading. As you fly your large steam-powered locomotive and crew across the procedurally generated Celestial Empire and visit Victorian-style settlements, you also transport passengers and trade goods. You'll fight against aggressive creatures as well as enemies of different factions and will be drawn into an armed conflict, whose course and the outcome you'll help determine. 

The world of Fallen London is often described as inspired by Lovecraft, and there is a lot of truth to that. I don't even want to make that comparison anymore, though, because Failbetter Games has taken the concept of a creepy-infused world full of supernatural goings-on much further than Lovecraft did, both with the original browser game and the spinoff released for PC, PlayStation 4, and iOS. While the horror visionary's Other served primarily as a menacing backdrop, the game makers have created a complete parallel world in which they tell a thousand little stories.

From morbid to funny to sad and exciting, everything is there, with Sunless Skies adding a new dimension to the scenario of Fallen London. To explain, London in this world was no longer where it is in our reality anyway, but was shipped under the surface of the earth - so far the starting point, as known from the original and Sunless Sea. In Sunless Skies, a new London was finally built high above the clouds, in a universe made up of "ruins flooded with wind," "where the laws of the cosmos are not what we had imagined." In this cosmos, for example, you build uptime, with which some lives pass more quickly, some more slowly.

In Sunless Skies you move freely, trade, accept missions, and besides the very shallow thread around the dying stars, you mainly experience many self-contained stories. For this, you read paragraphs of short episodes and decide how you want to continue the storyline. Imagine a pen&paper role-playing game whose game master keeps asking you what you want to do after a few descriptive sentences.

Conclusion

Sunless Skies manages a remarkable balancing act between conventional video games and traditional reading: On the one hand, the texts are shorter and nevertheless more concise than in almost all comparable titles, on the other hand, the free-acting, scheming and completion of numerous tasks is convincing as a great buccaneer adventure. Last but not least, by the way, you explore a world that is breathtakingly beautiful even in its most remote corners. Don't miss out on this incredibly enchanting experience!

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