Decisions that kill, stories that thrill. Analysis of Sunless Skies

Sunless Skies
Written by Kamran Haider

An unforgettable trip through the stars. Few adventures are as exciting as this challenging video game that brilliantly blends action, role, and exploration, creating an exciting story in which you have the last word. Analysis of Sunless Skies.

And desperate, on the brink of death … I ended up eating the crew.” Anyone who reads this will think that I have gone crazy, “what happened Alberto!”, But it is one of so many crazy and wild situations posed by Sunless Skies. Survive. That is the maxim in a video game that transmits like few the fear of dying. Do not be fooled by its aesthetics, its commitment to the text in front of the image. As the writer, HP Lovecraft said, “the oldest and most intense of fears is the fear of the unknown”, and this is something that the Failbetter Games team dominates to perfection. They are masters creating tension, tormenting your mind with an irrational fear towards dangers that you do not see … but they are always there. The threat to that fatal destiny is a faithful and undesirable companion of the trip that will not abandon you in this adventure roguelike that in the narrative is pure gold.

You know. Sooner or later that moment will come, your sad end; the outcome that you do not want but it seems is inevitable in this strange world that you travel, flying, aboard a locomotive. The premise is identical to that of the remarkable Sunless Sea but, here, everything is better. The narrative, the combats, the progression, the mystery, the terror; without realizing it, you will be trapped by an incredible story that grows and grows until you no longer stop thinking about it; until you, yourself feel part of that great and ruthless story whose common denominator is misfortune. And strange as it may seem to some viewing their images, understanding that there are no viscera or hyperrealistic graphics in the Resident Evil 2 style, the most incredible thing about Sunless Skies is its ability to make you feel uncomfortable. Death is there, waiting for its moment, lurking in the shadows, without haste, because it knows that sooner or later it will win … and you will die.

Next stop? Heaven!

On board, a locomotive able to sail the stars, with a few drums of fuel and something less than supplies to feed the crew, the trip to the unknown that Sunless Skies proposes is simply wonderful. Terrifying, yes, but in its way also exciting and captivating. You know that one way or another you will suffer a fatal fate. Maybe it’s the pirates, the wild beasts, the hunger or a treacherous crew driven mad by the cosmic horrors, but at the end of the day, death will end up reaching you. Or not? And it is that hope that motivates you to move forward, to want to explore a great universe full of mysteries and captivating characters.

It is not an easy trip to overcome but it is exciting thanks to its capacity to surprise with stories and stories in which you have the last word. It is another of the strengths of Sunless Skies. Although there is a pinch of a role, much exploration and even exciting combat against all kinds of enemies, the best way to describe this Failbetter Games title is to talk about it as a game of decisions; an adventure that exploits as few as the concept “choose your own path” with unforeseen consequences. There is a lot of text, a lot !, unfortunately only in English– Failing that the fans translate the game -, but I guarantee that you will devour with passion all those crazy stories that narrate. That’s what it’s about. To discover incredible stories and become part of them living impossible adventures in a world even more impossible.Thats what its about To discover incredible stories and become part of them living impossible adventures in a world even more impossible

Without realizing it, you will be trapped by an incredible story that grows and grows until you no longer stop thinking about it. It

all depends on your decisions, the type of captain you have created, but also the officers who accompany you, the affiliation with the factions that populate this dark universe or even the resources and treasures that you have accumulated in your travels. Tea, nectar, alcoholic beverages, ammunition … and also stories! In the world of Sunless Skies, you can exchange with others the adventures you have lived on board your locomotive, this being a fascinating currency. And it has all the sense of the world. A tavern? Surely the parishioners, more than your money, are dying to hear great stories. And in exchange for them, they will reward you with generosity. I think a brilliant idea that delves into one of the great virtues of the game: his script.

The story he tells is exciting. It’s hard not to get excited by the incredible and tragic adventures that a video game that never ceases to amaze you, that always keeps an ace up your sleeve, be it a terrifying creature capable of devouring your ship in seconds, or a conspiracy orchestrated by a cult to a forgotten god. There are so many threats, so many possibilities of dying, that one way or another fear will take hold of you. And yet, as was already the case with the Sunless Sea, you will not want to stop playing. Unlike. The excitement of discovering new ports, meeting other survivors or deciphering new enigmas will guide you with an overwhelming force through a gigantic universe that requires you to move with extreme caution. It is not a trivial warning. Courage rarely has a reward;

Manage fuel and food will be essential to survive, but also take care of the mood of a crew that will suffer in the presence of the cosmic horrors that surround you. Do not detract from it. There is nothing worse than seeing how insanity ends your comrades’ lives, which can even rise up against you. There are ways to avoid it. Also to fight against the many threats that hover over you. It is here where we find important improvements with respect to the previous title of the series. The combat, of entry, it is more exciting and fun. The enemies attack when you least expect it, they are agile, and they know how to take advantage of the weapons with which they are equipped. The result is frantic battles, with a lot of strategies, in which it is not enough to just aim well; It is also important to dodge and manage the heat to avoid remaining defenseless for a few seconds that could prove fatal.It is also important to dodge and manage the heat to avoid remaining defenseless for a few seconds that could prove fatal

The design of the stages is fantastic, with that mysterious air that also defines the characters themselves

With the option to improve the locomotive and equip new weapons, in case of death, the punishment will not be as cruel and implacable as that presented by the Sunless Sea. You can choose to load the game from the last safe port in which you landed, or bet on a style of play more typical of the roguelike, taking control of a new captain who will bequeath part of the knowledge and improvements that his predecessor left him. In any case, you avoid the tedium that meant starting the game from scratch, which was one of the aspects that I criticized most in the previous work of the study. Not everything is perfect in Sunless Skies. From the beginning, it can sometimes be frustrating because it is vague when it comes to giving directions. “Go to that port, located in the south-southeast of New Winchester,” they tell you, and you search, explore and curse without hitting him while you run out of fuel. Then,

There are also moments of some inactivity, with little to do, in which you will see yourself traveling from one port to another to earn a lot of money with trade, but without that emotion that defines other great adventures that a videogame poses, also audiovisual is the most attractive. The design of the scenarios is fantastic, with that mysterious air that also defines the characters with whom we will cross, and of which we will want to know more and more with the passing of the hours. On the other hand, it also highlights the care of the user interface, which allows you to manage the trip with great ease, as well as the great soundtrack and sound effects, which match perfectly with the setting of the video game.

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Sunless Skies does many things well but, undoubtedly, its greatest virtue is to create an exciting story of suspense capable of disturbing your soul in the same way that the crew members accompany you in this dark and dramatic journey through the stars. The video game is great in the way of telling a story that catches, and in which you have the last word. It is challenging, yes, but the sensations that it conveys are worth living, and denote the greatness of this adventure.

  • A trapping story that you feel part of
  • The feeling of being lost in a universe full of dangers
  • The narrative, the characters that accompany you and the freedom of action
  • The combats are fun; also customize the locomotive
  • Sometimes it can be frustrating because it is ambiguous giving instructions
  • Certain moments of inactivity until entering another great adventure



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Kamran Haider

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