Started late, but here are my impressions!

Various academic commitments kept me away from Sunless Sea until yesterday, but I have been playing it to bits for the past two days.

I realise a lot of my feedback will be the same as others’, but adding my voice to theirs can’t hurt. Playing beta version, which tells me there are no current updates.

Some thoughts:

  • The music is absolutely beautiful, and really sets the various scenes perfectly. Many congratulations to the artist in question.
  • The Unterzee really does look the way I imagined it.[li]
  • The lore. Oh my, the lore.

Some niggles and quibbles:

  • At character creation, the &quotwhich title do you prefer&quot then image-and-name picking comes up twice, every time. I go through it all, then I have to do it again, and that second one is the one the game accepts. This happens whether I click on it as a card, or if I just do it directly in the Gazette.

  • Is there anything to stop me picking a background and getting the associated stat bump, dying immediately, keeping that skill, picking the same background and bumping it further, dying immediately, and so on, until I have a ludicrous stat at the beginning of the game? If that actually works, it might be best to have background give a constant bonus to the relevant stat, rather than increasing its base value. If I’ve misunderstood how that mechanic works, apologies.

  • Buoys. I see elsewhere that collision with buoys is being taken out. Good! I died ten seconds in with my first character due to a buoy! The Admiralty clearly need not develop undersea mines - the buoys will do the job! (And wouldn’t that be an interesting late-game story: being asked to deploy buoys rigged with explosives…)

  • Venderbight. I keep forgetting to &quotsell&quot my tomb-colonists. I realise that’s my fault, but still. Couldn’t &quotthe tomb-colonists leave and you are paid&quot be an autofire card?

  • Similarly, the game can be awkward about giving you all the various location options correctly. Often if you pick things in the wrong order (like talking with the sisters at Hunter’s Keep at various points) you don’t get to explore and get a report for the Admiralty.

  • It happens a fair bit that after a certain option there’s just nothing displayed in a location and no cards available. Sometimes launching/docking fixes this, sometimes not. Shouldn’t there at least be a base &quotnot much else to do here in X at the moment&quot display?

  • Is there any reason &quotyou scout the location and prepare for a report&quot couldn’t be an autofire card on arrival at each relevant locaiton, except in very unusual situations (late-game Hunter’s Keep)?

  • Although it’s appropriate, 100 Echoes is an awfully high price in the House of the Question for the answer you get…

  • Text wraps incorrectly in the Gazette.

  • Is there a point to the Gazette’s Locale tab?

  • In the section of the Gazette where qualities are displayed, you don’t get to see their mouseover text (only when they come up in a storylet). I think you should be able to see them when you want to, because they’re lovely.

  • The Officers look great at the top of the screen, but DAMN (ahem, sorry) do they get in the way when I’m sailing North. Presuming this isn’t an elaborate plot to discourage Seekers, could the Officers bar maybe have a collapse/pull-out option, so you can see and consult them as necessary. Hearts/Veils/Pages/Mirrors/Iron should remain, of course.

  • I note that the sector including Codex is marked Finished. Is there actually meant to be anything on Codex, other than the supply/fuel harbour market?

  • The whole burning fuel to go faster thing is really unnecessarily complex. Why not have a couple of options: Normal speed (slow fuel burn, Fast speed (fuel burns as fast as supplies), Racing speed (fuel burns as fast as supplies, hull starts taking damage)?

  • The cursor being fixed at the top left of a displaying text box meant it always obscures part of the text. This is really irritating.

  • More monsters would be great! I’ve played for ages and not got a single encounter sometimes. I realise it’s location-dependent, somewhat.

  • Alexis mentioned somewhere that they were considering ways to make the &quotlit&quot zones more obvious. Why not mark them on the charts with dashed lines? Gives people more of an excuse to check the chart. And on the Unterzee, light patterns are at least as important as currents.

  • Gah! Hunger! Always hunger! SO HUNGRY!!! WHY MUST THEY ALWAYS FEED, ALWAYS FEAST? FOR I WAS HUNGERED AN YE GAVE ME… Ahem. My crew eats fast. Really fast!

  • Early-game it seems difficult to keep up with the supplies economy from the funding opportunities available to you. A Venderbight run nets you 30 echoes from Venderbight and the Keep reports, plus 30-60 echoes (average value maybe 40 echoes) from the tomb-colonists. Since you’d consume at least five supplies on that run (50 echoes), and may sustain little bits of terror and hull damage over time, it’s very close to zero-sum. Harsh.

In summary, I love the game. It’s amazing! I’m mentioning all of these things in the hope that they can make the final experience even better. Can’t wait to see the full thing![/li][li]
edited by Asclepius Unbound on 5/16/2014

Also a bit surprised at the ability to save. I thought this game was a roguelike, with permadeath. Doesn’t being able to save your game state and reload it no matter what sort of cheapen the experience?

You can’t save at sea.[li]
edited by Loon on 5/16/2014

Missed that. Even so, being able to save at docks and reload it no matter what still changes the experience massively.

Definitely agree with most of your points especially the crew in the top right, very difficult to see what is to the North East until you are almost on top of it. The music and atmosphere and text are really amazing.

My thoughts on some of your other points.

Character creation and the term of address is definitely a bug and I hope that it is sorted out soon.

Don’t know about the dying and keeping a stat, haven’t tried that yet as I tend to use it for the cook as a legacy officer as you can only choose one that is actually assigned and I don’t like having a slot up there that can’t be filled in game. That will probably change when they introduce more officers.

Buoys are definitely too damaging and it is very easy to die early game, so I am pleased that they are going to change that particular menace.

Yes it is very easy to forget to sell your Tomb Colonists and that is one cargo that you want to offload as quickly as possible! It also ties into your point about the early game economy if you forget to sell them and take them back to London, or anywhere else you are going to be making losses on the journey.

Getting the correct order to do things in port, I’m not sure what to say about that. It is annoying that there is no clue to the &quotright way&quot except having the options disappear. Though some of them are dependent on the &quotsomething awaits you&quot quality and you can hover over the icon and see which ones need it.

It would be good if there was a message to say that there was nothing to do at a port after you have completed your business. I don’t think Launching/Re-docking is intended to re-open the options, I think it was/is a bug that people could use to keep playing the more profitable stories.

I’m not sure how much auto fire should be used, especially in the ports. Part of the fun is clicking through to see what happens so I don’t know if it is necessary to automatically get your Port Reports.

The gazette is buggy, especially the text thing and items being obscured on the right hand side. I’m presuming that the gazette is going to be developed further and that the locale page will eventually have information. What I don’t like is that some places if you click the story tab it will show you the available options, other times it will say that there are no stories but if you use the sidebar options there are things to do.

Officers - agree they take up too much of the screen, very difficult to see what is to the North East.

I haven’t seen anything to do in Codex but places to pick up supplies and fuel are useful.

Fuel/Supplies consumption definitely needs some work. If you want to stock up at London prices before going around the Sunless Sea you don’t have room for much other cargo in the tramp steamer. I expect that Palmerstone will change at some point, though it is nice to have the London shops there to restock and, at the moment, there isn’t much trading to do except the London/Venderbright route.

The Cursor was the other way around when the game was first launched and actually in some ways that was better as it didn’t hide the text.

I’ve read elsewhere that monster spawning is buggy at the moment, hopefully it will be fixed with the next version.

Lit zones, not sure what I think about this. You can be following the buoys, which I presume mark shipping lanes, hazards, harbours, safe routes, etc., and then suddenly you can be in the dark with a featureless ocean which definitely adds to the tension.

Hunger - see above under fuel.

Another niggle is that I don’t think the game zooms out far enough. There is often a message that you have seen or discovered something that is just off screen.

I like the save, especially as we are beta testing.

I’m running three games - one where I start with a legacy officer every time the character dies and only save if I am not playing that game; one Tramp Steamer that just goes around the places where there are things to do at the moment who I save if they manage to get back to Wolfstack Docks and one that has a destroyer, has their stats high enough to survive most encounters with different beasts and uses the save at most ports. That way I can test any new content at various levels without having to start a new game. [li]

It is an amazing game and I am really looking forward to seeing what comes next. Really pleased to have backed it to get into Beta bugs and all. Well done to all at Failbetter and I hope that this and any future projects are a huge success.

I am coming in late also, still getting caught up on everyone’s suggestions so I apologize if this has been mentioned before.

But it seems to me that crew hunger should reset (or at least drop some) when you dock at Wolfstack. Wouldn’t the crew head off the ship and be responsible for themselves between voyages? Unless I’m locking them in their cabins for the duration…

Perhaps there would be a time limit on how often that could happen, or maybe there’d be a specific option to &quotgive the crew shore leave&quot that could have some cost in gold or items in order to make them go feed themselves for awhile.[li]

ETA for clarity: Basically, it’s frustrating to make it back to London just as your food is running out. Your crew apparently sits around hungry until you head back to sea, and you have to feed them twice before you even clear the harbor.
edited by Woogawoman on 5/17/2014

Ok, started a new game, made one trip out and back. Reloading supplies (15), went sailing up the river to see how far I could go. Hit the bridge because I couldn’t tell if it was raised or not, and suffered damage. Turned around and hit “repair.” Continued back up the river and suddenly found I had 0 supplies. I hadn’t even left London yet.

Does damaging the ship destroy supplies? Or repairing does? Or was this just a bug? I am terribly confused, since the game gave me no indication of why this happened (or even if it had - I just suddenly got the “need provisions” card). ???

[quote=Woogawoman]Ok, started a new game, made one trip out and back. Reloading supplies (15), went sailing up the river to see how far I could go. Hit the bridge because I couldn’t tell if it was raised or not, and suffered damage. Turned around and hit &quotrepair.&quot Continued back up the river and suddenly found I had 0 supplies. I hadn’t even left London yet.

Does damaging the ship destroy supplies? Or repairing does? Or was this just a bug? I am terribly confused, since the game gave me no indication of why this happened (or even if it had - I just suddenly got the &quotneed provisions&quot card). ???[/quote]

Repairing uses up supplies.

If you use your light, you can see when you go under stuff - if light goes through, so can you. It’s not obvious for that bridge, though, as the light goes over rather than under it. It make sense if you think about it, but can see how would be confusing.
edited by babelfishwars on 5/17/2014

If you hit the repair button it carries on until your ship is fully fixed or run out of supplies - whichever comes first. Each point of damage takes 1 supply, to turn it off you need to click the repair button again. It is probably best to use the repair your ship option in Wolfstack Docks. If you can get there. If not it depends on whether you think any repairs and supplies will last until you can get back, remember you can get back with just 1 hull as long as you don’t run into any difficulties, getting back without supplies is harder.[li]
edited by reveurciel on 5/18/2014

This mechanic should be made clear some way other than trial and error. There’s no info about it (or I missed it, which means others might also), and it doesn’t tell you what it is doing while it is doing it. All around, a recipe for frustration. :)

I feel like repairing at sea might be better served by a storylet, maybe a hearts challenge. Actually, it’d be cool if there were several “At Sea” story lets that were always available that could inefficiently or riskily repair damage or reduce terror. Rather than having to wait until someone jumps overboard to distribute grog, it could be more of a choice - risk losing crew vs spending resources to stem the problem preemptivly.