Hi guys, early access customer on Steam here, casual Fallen London player…
I don’t know how to put this gently. I want to love Sunless Sea so much I can practically taste the brine. I love the writing, the theme, the music, the presentation. I think it’s got incredible potential.
But I hate the combat like dentistry. Every single time I boot the game up to have another look, I’m almost scrambling for alt+F4 within ten minutes. The combat is just awful. I’m a big fan of turn based tactics games, so it’s not that. I don’t think confusing the basically turnbased nature of the combat with timers is a way to make it more "dynamic". Instead, you’re making me wait as timers fill. The illumination mechanic is terrible. It turns combat into a rope pulling contest interleaved with timer waiting. And in the middle of it, there is nothing to do. You watch timers. A game filled with evocative writing and world building, reduced to timers and queuing of more timers.
If I were you, and I’m an indie developer myself, I’d toss the entirety of the system and start over. It’s too much, it’s too slow, it’s too encapsulated, and it, for me at least, completely ruins the game.
I’d look into action points or time units over timers. I’d make attempts at making individual decisions matter more. Fewer choices, bigger impacts. I’m in the game world to experience the stories, not wait for timers to fill, no?
In either case, for me, and anecdotally to a good few others, combat is the bane of Sunless Sea right now, and I think it’s got fundamental issues that cannot be solved with balancing.
Best wishes, regardless. The game has so much potential.