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August 2020

Sunless Skies

Platform(s): Nintendo Switch, PC, PlayStation 4, Xbox One
Genre: RPG/Action
Developer: Failbetter Games
Release Date: Jan. 31, 2019

About Rainier

PC gamer, WorthPlaying EIC, globe-trotting couch potato, patriot, '80s headbanger, movie watcher, music lover, foodie and man in black -- squirrel!


'Sunless Skies' Gets New Release Window

by Rainier on March 2, 2018 @ 12:00 a.m. PST

Sunless Skies is a top-down literary RPG set amongst the stars. Explore a universe steeped in celestial horror and ravaged by Victorian ambition in this game of exploration, corruption and jeopardy.

It is the dawn of the 20th century, and London has taken to the stars! As the captain of a space-faring locomotive you'll behold wonders and battle cosmic abominations in the furthest heavens. Stake your claim. Fight to survive. Speak to storms. Murder a sun. Face judgement.

Ten years have passed since Sunless Sea, and Queen Victoria has led an exodus from London to the heavens. There, a revitalized British Empire - ambitious and authoritarian - begins to expand across the skies.

The stars are alive. They are the Judgements: vast intelligences that govern all things. But they are dying. One by one, something is snuffing them out, leaving their thrones empty. An opportunistic Victorian Empire is colonizing the domains they leave behind, painting its industrial vision upon the fabric of the heavens.

Last month Failbetter Games has hit some rough waters as disappointing Early Access sales have forced the developer to cut staff which also resulted in the game getting delayed. As promised the UK based developer has now revealed an updated released window.

We’re pleased to announce that Sunless Skies will be released in late September 2018! We’ll have an updated roadmap next week, but for now here’s the lowdown on our latest release: Combat

Weaponry and heat

The biggest change we’ve made to this build is a complete rework of the Heat mechanics. We’ve redesigned the Heat bar and made the mechanics simpler. Try holding down the button to keep firing, and experimenting with what happens when you’re overheated but keep shooting (clue: it is not good). We feel we’ve arrived at something that makes combat fun and accessible, whilst being measured and allowing you to try different tactics to get the most out of it. It’ll keep evolving based on your feedback!

Combat will also feel a little different due to some additional tweaks to ship speed and camera behaviour: you get more screen around you when you’re at full speed or when you’ve been targeted by an enemy.

We’ve also made numerous small changes to some of the beastie behaviour in the Reach. Cantankeri go down a little easier, Reach Marauders are a little more nimble. The Tackety Scout remains a tough encounter - think before you engage! The Enduring Dreadnaught has a powerful new chain weapon, so stay out of its line of fire. Generally, enemies are more capable of missing now, meaning more narrow escapes. Let us know what you think!

Controller support

After many hours of gameplay we’ve added a default controller configuration which we feel is the best fit, but you can change the gamepad controls at any time from the title screen (select Options > Controls) or in-game (press Esc > Options > Controls). We’ll also be adding keyboard-only support in a future release.


We are toying with the idea of having difficulty settings for movement. We won’t be implementing this until much closer to launch, but in the meantime we wanted to adjust the controls to make the locomotives feel slightly less ‘slidey’. This is a minor adjustment on the road to default controls that feel right (no easy task to balance!). Once difficulty settings are in place, you’ll be able to make stronger adjustments yourself.


This month, the writers had a workshop with consultant, game writer and friend of Failbetter Meg Jayanth, in which they looked at the theme of colonialism in Sunless Skies. They came out of it with a whole bag of story ideas, new writing approaches, and some particularly exciting material for the Blue Kingdom.

Meanwhile in the story mines, the writing team have mostly been forging onward into Albion (with a little excursion to Eleutheria), so you can expect to see the fruits of these labours further down the line.


The next update will be a biggie. ALBION enters the game. An entire new region to explore!

Quite a bit of work from the last few sprints will be revealed all at once: all the ports will have their core stories, and you can expect a well, a legendary wreck, new prospects and bargains, and several new discoveries and enemy types.

Of course, with two regions, we’ll need a way to travel from one to the other. We know what this looks like and we think you’re going to be tickled.

That’s your lot for this release! Our podcast today is cancelled due to snow, but we'll let you know as soon as we've scheduled another one. :)

And those of you in the UK can come see us at EGX Rezzed! Rezzed is the 13th-15th of April at Tobacco Dock in London, and it's always a great time. Hope to see you there!

Your friends,
Failbetter Games

Key Features:

  • Travel between distant ports, unravelling stories, bearing passengers and news, and trading in exotic celestial cargoes.
  • Your every foray into space is as precarious as a Polar expedition. You’ll need to balance your resources carefully and keep an eye on your crew’s Terror to avoid mutiny and death.
  • Your captain's actions could tip the precarious political balance of a region. Will you run guns for the Independents? Or spies for the Empire? Choose wisely – your decisions will affect the story; not just for yourself, but for your future captains as well.
  • Leave your mark on the universe, and be marked in return. When you are creating your captain, every decision is a story, and every story has a consequence.
  • Equip your vessel as you see fit. Would you benefit more from reinforced armour plating, or the additional manpower allowed by external crew pods? ("Soundproof! Cosy! Detachable!")
  • It is not safe in the skies. A captain will need to defend themselves against pirates, scorn-flukes, the Cyst of Faces, and worse.
  • Recruit a gallery of unpredictable characters to crew your locomotive as First Officer, Chief Engineer, Signaller, or Surgeon. Each brings their own skills and stories to your adventures.

Sunless Skies is currently available on Steam Early Access for $24.99.

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