Has Failbetter mastered story-driven gameplay with Sunless Skies?

As many of doubtless already know, Failbetter Games has promised me (us) a fantastic sequel to their 2014 release, Sunless Sea.

Sunless Skies promises to expand on the top-notch storytelling that made Sunless Sea such a memorable game, while bringing the series into the reaches of outer space. The development team teased at the underlying plot in their Kickstarter video.

Horrifying sykbeasts await

Gameplay to match the storytelling

According to narrative director Chris Gardiner, “One of the big questions of the game is, when you’re out there in the dark, who are you? Are you going to do something awful if it gives you great power?” Writer Olivia Wood says, “We’ve pushed the gameplay and made it something that can match our storytelling.” This is big talk from the team that brought us one of the most beautifully written games in recent memory.

If it’s any indication of the excitement created by this upcoming release, as of this writing Sunless Skies’ Kickstarter campaign still has 24 days left, and they’ve already more than doubled their funding goal.

The team is working hard to create a more dynamic game than the original, while addressing certain areas of frustration. I was apparently not the only Sunless Sea fan who got tired of repeating the same early content with every play. In Sunless Skies, the actions of players’ previous captains persist in affecting the game world. New captains will be tasked with addressing previous captains’ mistakes.

A new mapping system improves on Sunless Sea

While the overhead view, HUD and ship styles will be instantly recognizable, the mapping system has been completely overhauled. Also, the controls look a bit slicker. In the absence of gravity, the ships slide about more like Asteroids than slow steam vessels. Don’t get me wrong, though: Sunless Skies looks every bit as brooding and dark as Sunless Sea.

Get it while it’s hot!

Failbetter’s Kickstarter campaign is due to wrap up on March 3, 2017. Top-tier rewards are already sold out. The lowest pledge to be rewarded with a Steam of GOG copy of the game is about $19 USD. Nearly 3,500 have already made their pledges at this level. If you love a dark gaming experience and incredible storytelling, you’d better join them while you can!