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Fallen London: Welcome, delicious friends...

Posted: Fri Oct 05, 2018 3:09 am
by Key-Glyph
I searched the forum for both Fallen London and Sunless Sea and only came up with one hit, which was only a passing mention in regards to a GOG bundle. If truly there are no threads about it yet, I mustache you all a question: are any of you kind sirs or madams playing these games?

If not, let me explain. Fallen London is a free browser-based choose-your-own-adventure game that's been running since 2009. It takes place in a demonic, subterranean version of its eponymous city in the late 1800s, dragged under and shut away from the Surface and all sunlight. The world is positively bursting with intriguing, twisted, hilarious, wrenching lore. There is no central story, but rather "storylets" (individual narratives) that will define your character by the decisions you make within them. And good gracious are the narratives well-written.

Here's a snippet of actual text:

    The flukes are coming!

    Can they hear you? Is this a song of welcome?

    The crew is frantic. They shout and work their machines. The zubmarine shudders as a torpedo launches. Moments later, a shockwave rocks the vessel. Too close! Men fall. The walls spring leaks.

    The Fluke-song changes. It is no longer curious; it is incensed. Their embassy has been profaned, and today they have learned that their domain is worth killing for. They rise. They rise in epiphany. They rise and exalt! Trespassers, they sing as they slay. Trespassers!

    The vision dims. The pain in your palm is unbearable. You wrench the needle out – and not a moment too soon. Your skin is mottled and inflamed. Before you, the Last Emissary quivers his spines.

If you are the sort of person who is addicted to good writing, this is the game for you.

The interface was just recently overhauled, and here's what it looks like now in practice:


On the left you see my money (echoes) and stats (watchful, shadowy, etc.). My stats affect both what actions I can take for a challenge and how good my chances are of succeeding for each option. Cat-catching is a very simple beginner's vignette to help you elevate your stats; things get more entwined as you go, and paths will open up to you (or be closed to you) based on your associations, earned favors, luck, addictions...

You cannot die. Well, that's not true. You can most certainly die. Horrifically, I hear. Multiple times. But your character's adventure does not end with death. It's just another part of your story.

Sunless Sea is a semi-rougelike spiritual expansion on the Fallen London universe for consoles and Steam, but it's a punishing and repetitive grind I'd hesitate to suggest to newcomers unless you turned off permadeath.

But yeah. If this sounds interesting to anybody, I just started out, and I'm happy to explain what I can. My best friend has been playing practically since the beginning, and my husband is getting into it, too. He finds it a very satisfying distraction while taking short breaks at work. Definitely the kind of thing you can easily put down at a moment's notice... but you might not want to.

And, apologies if a thread exists already and I missed it.

Re: Fallen London: Welcome, delicious friends...

Posted: Fri Oct 05, 2018 8:43 am
by Ack
Huh, I have heard of Sunless Sea but never paid it much attention. Are these Lovecraftian in nature? The excerpts you provided seem like a mixture of Lovecraft and Wells. I'm interested in finding out more about Fallen London.

Re: Fallen London: Welcome, delicious friends...

Posted: Fri Oct 05, 2018 9:04 am
by PartridgeSenpai
I've heard that Sunless Sea is a really good game! I didn't realize there was a free browser game where its universe came from though :O

Re: Fallen London: Welcome, delicious friends...

Posted: Fri Oct 05, 2018 2:07 pm
by Key-Glyph
Ack wrote:Are these Lovecraftian in nature? The excerpts you provided seem like a mixture of Lovecraft and Wells.

Very yes. Writing that prompts madness. Enduring nightmares. The trafficking of human souls. Cannibalism. Accidental cannibalism. Living icebergs. Enigmatic gods who take notice of you... for good or ill.

Throw in a bit of Terry Pratchettesque humor into the mix, too. I just got involved in writing epic poetry about a mushroom harvest, and the description on the final check was: "Turn over four hundred stanzas of dutiful fungal enthusiasm. Please God let this be enough." I was also recently spying in a tattoo parlor by pretending to be a patron, and wound up getting inked with the name of a nonexistent aunt to keep my cover from blowing. :lol:

Sunless Sea is totally great. In fact, it was watching that game that made me finally want to dip into Fallen London. It's just that Sunless is so punishing if you die, and it's so incredibly easy to die. Every subsequent character is related to the former in some way, so you can wind up carrying some stats or items over into your next iteration, but you'll wind up doing the first handful of missions over and over and over. It can be disheartening. But again, you can turn on manual save, which I would highly endorse. Then you can just lose yourself in that atmosphere. So much atmosphere!

Fallen London was a bit of a learning curve at first, because there really aren't a whole lot of similar experiences I've had to it. I can't fall back on old knowledge to metagame my way through things. They institute some very interesting ideas that caught me off-guard -- for example, that the use of a healing potion in your inventory isn't an instant consistent positive, but rather another check challenge in itself to see what added effects the medicine will have. Pretty cool.

You can't directly interact in London, but you can send telegrams and letters back and forth to friends and invite them to provide help in a task, or join you for a game of chess, or come over for dinner, or even be your patron or lover. Again, these actions unlock story vignettes for the two players involved as opposed to any actual multiplayer. But everything you do builds into your profile and defines you, and those traits you pick up -- quirks, menaces, favors, reputation -- will affect the kinds of narratives you run into going forward.

It's a really fun jaunt. I kind of can't stop thinking about the world. And honestly, Ack, I thought of you specifically while I was getting into these games. If you can get used to the interface, I think you'll eat up the writing like nobody's business.

Re: Fallen London: Welcome, delicious friends...

Posted: Fri Oct 05, 2018 2:37 pm
by Ack
Hahaha, oh dear. Ok, I may go check out Sunless Sea and see how I feel about it. If I do end up checking out Fallen London, then I'll let you know. Shoot, we could even be pen pals!