Wednesday 23 October 2019

Sunless Skies review: Gothic literary wig-out a feast for the mind

(PC/Mac) ★★★★★ Age: 16+

Sunless Skies
Sunless Skies
Ronan Price

Ronan Price

Stick with me here because this gets weird. You're a wheeler-dealer piloting a steam train through space, dodging pirates and giant squid while (hopefully) not resorting to cannibalism. Oh, and you can heal at a brothel that doubles as a nunnery (no, really).

Mostly, though, you're reading, because Sunless Skies is an intensely literate game, a gothic Victorian novel sandwiched between chunks of exploration/trading gameplay. Laden with dark humour, evocative imagery and even unsettling horror, its text echoes HP Lovecraft in the same breath as Terry Pratchett.

It can be punishing (you get used to regularly losing crew members to horrible deaths) and visually it's functional rather than lavish. But Sunless Skies sketches such a deliciously skewed universe, it has an irresistible macabre charm. Unless you hate words, in which case I hope the cannibals get you.

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