I’d normally do a Cultist Simulator devlog post today, but Zubmariner, the first expansion for Sunless Sea from my old comrades at Failbetter, is out this week – in an hour, in fact! So I’m going to save my CS ammo for next week, and tell you why you should pick up a copy.

That said, ONE, if you bought a copy of Sunless in Early Access – or were one of the original 4000 Kickstarter backers – then you’re guaranteed a free copy of Zubmariner. Which is pretty damned civilised. So if you’re one of those lucky souls, jump back in and enjoy. And if you’re not, take this opportunity to support a dev who supports their community, and sign up to their next game. They’ve shown they can be trusted.


TWO: I was lead on Sunless. I’ve been asked how much involvement I had with Zub, and I’ve seen people wonder what effect my departure would have. The answer is: I don’t think you’ll notice a difference.

I wrote the original design document, and did the original creative direction for the ports and some core lore (the Agreement, the Trespasser, Lady Black). I didn’t write or edit any of the actual story content – of which there’s a lot – and I know the design has been substantially enhanced since. So though I was involved, I don’t think I can even claim to have built the skeleton – I did a napkin-sketch of a skeleton which the team then carved from coral, robed in flesh, wrapped in kelp and sent out to seduce their enemies. But I was always only the loudest, er, face at Failbetter, and Sunless was a fundamentally collegiate effort. We established the house style as a living tradition – into which all the writing team have long since been initiated. And the game looks as beautiful as it ever did, which was never my department anyway.


So, THREE: the core Zub team is all people who worked on Zubmariner, all people who are Failbetter to the silty bottom of their souls and it’s true to the spirit of the original… but everyone who built it has two years more experience in making games than when they made Sunless Sea. The new content is all ‘Sunless Sea, but more so’ – all the maritime marinade of the original game turned up to eleven, compressed and enriched by the stresses of the ocean floor.


FOUR. Honestly, I think it’s an overly generous piece of DLC; I think Failbetter could have got away with much less content, and it was arguably a shaky biz decision. I can say that, because it was originally my biz decision. They’re stuck with it, and you lucky folk can take advantage. There’s a big chunk of new early-game content even in the vanilla game, too.


FIVE. I can hear people from here asking ‘does it speed up the game?’ It doesn’t. That tantalising progress is part of the Sunless deal. But Zubmariner improves the experience of exploring the whole map – because once you’ve upgraded your ship, you always have the option of diving. So wherever you go, at any point at all, you can decide to go downstairs.


SIX. In case you hadn’t heard, the text can now be resized to your liking – in the parent game as well as the expansion. I know this put some folk off a purchase originally. Unity 5 meant the team could fix the problem. The words are now displayed in the same irreproachably black velvet glory as the art.


SEVEN. Remember this?



Don’t you want to know what’s underneath?


About Alexis Kennedy

One half of Weather Factory. Writer, designer, coder and general man about town. He's the one who comes up with all the big ideas, which Lottie has to Deal With.


  1. “I did a napkin-sketch of a skeleton which the team then carved from coral, robed in flesh, wrapped in kelp and sent out to seduce their enemies.”

    One hasn’t known passion until one has known Drownie passion.

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