A few thoughts on Sunless Sea

Prior to writing this, I just want to make it clear that I really love this game, and I’ve put many, many hours into it. However, it would be impractical to list out all of my affections for the game, along with all of my quarrels. Anyways, here we go.

  1. The skills feel like they need a bit of re-balancing. Particularly hearts, but the others probably could use a few tweaks too. As of the moment (and maybe I’m completely wrong), hearts is only used for skill-check events. When compared to the number of events that use the other skills (particularly iron and veils), hearts also falls behind. As a result I find myself never leveling hearts, but perhaps I am playing the game incorrectly?

To at least alleviate the problem the skill &quothearts&quot needs to have some sort of practical bonus, akin to how iron increases damage, veils stealth, mirrors reload time, and pages secret acquisition rate. A few ideas are adding in defense to ships, and having hearts affect this; having a boarding mechanic to the game (something I would like anyways), and having hearts help with that; or perhaps something you guys think of. Every other skill I can see myself leveling, but not this one.

  1. I know combat has already been reworked… But it needs a bit more work. Originally, I was afraid of nearly afraid of everything in the zee, until I figured out that nearly every enemy can be trivialized by getting in close, staying behind them by clever steam manipulation and turning (The exception being ships with aft weapons). I understand that flanking is a valid strategy in real life, but I think in game terms it needs to be addressed. For example, adding abilities to the enemies where being too close, or being behind them incurs a negative response. Currently the enemies will just try to back up, turn, and sometimes just get confused and stop. Another idea is that zee monsters will always submerge if you are too near, or will swipe you with their tails. Just some thoughts.

  2. I’m sure you’re aware of it, but the civilian ships… Not sure what kind of engines they have, but I can’t even think of pirating, because they teleport into an island for safety. They just need to be fixed.

  3. I’m not sure exactly what it is, because I know nothing of programming, but I think there is like a memory leak or something if you have the game open for a long time. Yeah, yeah, I can hear the, &quotwell, just restart it then!&quot, already. I think I game shouldn’t have these sort of issues, however. Problems I’ve seen are: whenever event boxes pop up, the game pauses; you can only exit combat when you enter a port; and spawn points spawn an insane amount of enemies (like, I’ve had about 10 of those crabs near Fallen London on the screen at the same time, and they keep spawning). I don’t really now how to replicate these things, or to even report them properly, but there you go.

I can’t think of other points at the moment, but I had a few more things (some of them are already harped on enough, e.g. warehouses). Just wanted to give my thoughts. Love the game, and I’m excited to see more from it in the future!

Mmm. I dunno. I could see Hearts having some effect on Supplies, or Terror, but it already affects a lot of important skill-checks. I’d certainly value it higher than e.g. Iron.

It would be nice if hearts helped slow terror gain or something like that. But, hearts IS used for quite a few cool things. The “Try Something Mysterious” option you can get on a few islands will increase three of your stats with a hearts check

Ooh, linking it to terror gain would be cool, actually.

Hearts is very important in my opinion. The skill checks it works for are usually the high-terror-high-stakes ones. Though I wouldn’t mind if it had a more direct effect on the ship somehow.

Combat - I agree with you. It does feel like you can cheese enemies very easily. Once you have a frigate/dreadnought, almost nothing can kill you.

Civilian ships are also pretty useless for me so far. Other than if you sail close to them, you accumulate terror at a lower rate.

Hearts does need to be linked to something to make it more useful. As it stands it’s only good for a few admittedly good skillchecks but I’ve never really felt the need to upgrade my hearts unlike most of the other Skills.
Making it more useful would be neat and making it useful outside of those skills doubly so.

Combat? Yeah. Combats light years better then it was originally. There’s definitely something great buried there. The problem seems to usually be that combat is also repetitive and boring. And the A.I. isn’t as sharp as it should be.
A few people I’ve heard have pointed out one of the glaring problems is the lack of options you have. Your starting ship only has one gun…And that’s it. Fighting is usually just getting behind someone and shooting at them until they sink to the bottom of the Zee and this is usually way to easy. Things get a bit more exciting once you can mount multiple weapons. But that’s about it. This plus the rather dull A.I. and their lack of options makes fighting rather boring.
A good way of making combat more exciting would probably be…

  1. Give Combat waaaay more options. Depth Charges, Mines,Boarding? Maybe an additional slot for the starting ship?
  2. So above, so below. Give enemies more options. Radically more options. Monsters have one attack…Which is bullrushing you. That’s it. Crabs should bullrush you and use their claws to grab at your crew. Sharks should dive then breach the water and try and hit your ship. Let them stun you, knock off your targeting, disable weapons, knock out your lights for a time.
    And ships should have all of the options your ship has. From weapons to abilities.
  3. Probably the biggest thing is A.I. Right now it really needs some work. The lack of options enemies have exacerbates the problem. But it seems enemy vessels don’t know how to slow down, stop or reverse.

Civilian Ships could be really cool if they do anything. Maybe they’re are events attached where you can dock with them and swap stories. Or maybe you can buy/sell goods. Or charts in exchange for secrets. Or maybe have some good random stories attached to them.
Maybe one ship was hit by plague and you have the option of either trying to help, putting them out of their misery or just leaving them? Or maybe they need some fuel or supplies.
Maybe their hauling people about and they provide quests?
Seriously. Lot of neat stuff can be done.
edited by WireWolf on 2/12/2015

Eh, zee-monsters are more varied than you give them credit, but it’s still not nearly enough, and even that small amount of variety is crippled by poor AI.

The only exceptions I can think of are Lorn Flukes.
Everything else has the same pattern of attack. Bullrush you. Ram into you then get far away to do it again.
There’s not a lot of variation to their strategy.

Sharks nab crew members, though it’s not obvious they’re doing it on purpose.
edited by Olorin on 2/12/2015

[quote=Gregg Johnson]Sharks nab crew members, though it’s not obvious they’re doing it on purpose.
edited by Olorin on 2/12/2015[/quote]
While their might be a status effect attached to it, ultimately it’s the same. The only attack Monsters have is bullrushing the ship.

Hearts is the most important skill when you’ve been out in the black for a long time with no other contact and terror rising, but it has to be said that most terror goes away when you find something and blow it up… Difficult to make the justification for raising hearts first when other stats can help you lower terror in blocks (and provide food for example…).