Developer: Failbetter Games
Publisher: Failbetter Games
Platforms: PS4, Switch, XBox One, PC
Reviewed On: Switch
Release Date: 19/05/2021
Reviewed By: Keith Lavelle
Review Rush was kindly supplied with a review code.
I was not sure what to expect when I booted up Sunless Skies: Sovereign Edition; I missed out of playing Sunless Seas this game’s predecessor and for that I went in bright eyed and bushy tailed hoping for something else rather than what I got. What I got was a claustrophobic, dark, depressing, moody flying locomotive from the 1900s. I was not sure what I was doing or what to do, but my did the game grow on me.
The story starts fairly simple you are the new Captain of the locomotive after the previous Capitan dies of a horrible disease. There the hand holding stops. Now you need to make yourself a character and a background. Depending on the background you pick will have a noticeable effect in the game. You will need to play about to find out how each will change interactions. Then off you go in to the Sunless Skies.
When you start Sunless Skies, you will be lost (even more so if you have not played Sunless Sea) there is not much hand holding from the get go. There is a short tutorial that will get you to grips with the key systems of the game but does not prepare you for what is going to happen in the game. And stuff happens, a lot of stuff happens.
So your vessel is a flying train, with rockets attached to it, tbh this is awesome. You as the Captain have free rain to go wherever you like in the destroyed London skies. And your Locomotive is the transport and yours and the passengers life lines. So keeping her in good repair and stocked with fuel and rations is essential to survival, well unless you enjoy eating other people. Using the resources are fairly slow however, if you find they are running out to quickly you can tailer the consumption rate when starting a new game.
They’re a possibility to upgrade the Locomotive and buy extra parts to help you do whatever you have decided to do. Sunless Skies has a lot of possibilities and a lot going on.
The world in Sunless Skies is a huge space that you will need to explore, as the map is blank. So as you travel about you will find stations to dock at, places of interest to visit and so weird shit happening. There seems to be an over arcing story of a war between two factions, and depending on what missions you do or interactions in the world you can effect this war. Why? Because you can, there is not much information given just that you can.
As you travel, you will unlock new areas to visit here the game gets truly crazy and you can tell Lovecraft was a major influence on this game. You will find all sorts of crazy monsters with tentacles, half locomotive/tentacle monstrosities. That basically want you dead. There has been a tonne of thought put in to world design and how each place will be different and the things you will find.
Sunless Skies is for the most part a text adventure, you will be reading and macing choices on what you have read, risking life and ship most of the time. The writing in Sunless Skies is great, each character or crew member has their own unique story and quest that can affect the gameplay. Not always in the way you would expect. For myself this was the biggest draw of the game I love these style of adventures; the make your own quest books, as a kid. It felt like that except with darker outcomes. However, these quests would shape the world around you and how you interact with your crew. This was fantastic writing and planning.
There is so much to cover in Sunless Skies: Sovereign Edition, too many from trading, picking up passengers, what weird and wonderful crew you can hire. The game has so much content it is bursting at the seams. They’re where too many times I was totally lost, and had to hope I got somewhere to proceed and advance the game.
Overall Sunless Skies: Sovereign Edition is a great narrative rpg with a tonne to do and uncover. It can quickly become over load for the player, more so at the start of the game where you have no clue what is happening. So it will not be for everyone.
If you text adventures and will fly about lost for a few hours to get to the meat, then this is a game for you. If none of that sounds remotely interesting then move on, it will not before you.