Genre: Survival / Explore / Sea-battle
Developer: Failbetter Games
This game is for story lovers. Pen and paper fans will like to play it. Others, that like action and less text-based video games will just not like this game. It got to be your cup of tea. The game has a great story and a touch of steam punk. The problem is that things take forever. Prepare for a lot of reading and grind for fulfilling quests.
The surrounding is drowned in an ocean and a dark Gothic, Victorian influenced world. You start out at London with a steamship, sailing to the green and gray painted shores of islands, harbors and coral reefs. Fight starvation, fog, sea-monsters, sharks, terror and other ships. Unfortunately fighting seems to use up too much fuel and food. The loot that drops from wrecks seems to not be worth fighting. Also you can not just go exploring too far, because you'll run out of fuel very fast and need a ship upgrade before you can do this.
The game has a top down view and nice ambient sound. The developers did put a lot of attention into storytelling. Most of the game is text-based except to steering your ship and sea-combat. While you are sailing you'll get messages by your log book to the down left corner of your screen. Docking at any harbor will open up a book with information and missions you can look up and choose from. A lot of the islands will not have any shops to refuel your ship, so prepare for it. The prow light reduces terror, but also makes you more visible to enemies. The game will challenge you by such decisions.
You start out with the character creation of your captain by choosing his past and ambition, your gender and social level. The game warns you already in the beginning, that your first captain is likely to die. The gameplay is complicated and the world is mysterious. You need to take risks and still be aware of travel times and resources. Seems that you earn most money by exploring and reading through to their end, and by doing missions of course, but not so much by trading. The perma-death does make the game pretty repetitive.
The game is not really much about gameplay, most of it is story-driven. The ocean atmosphere feels depressing and creepy and the starter ship speed seems a bit too slow. The music is amazing and the graphics are a bit poor on colors to imitate the darkness. The game mechanics are not explained very well, although there is a tutorial. Fortunately you can pass on your resources to the next generation if you have children. If you bought the game with the zubmarine DLC you may convert your ship after dying into a submarine. The amount of little stories to every place might tire you fast and the requirements to upgrade your ship do make the game grindy. Especially in the beginning it is a time consuming goal to upgrade your ship and gets fast boring and too difficult, because the world is harsh and unforgiving. Starting repeatedly means skipping a lot of text you already read, which also doesn't make the game more enjoyable.
We recommend: If you like story-driven games and don't mind repeating things a lot, you can buy it, we'd recommend to do it on a sale!