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[PlayStation 4] Sunless Sea: Zubmariner Edition Review

[PlayStation 4] Sunless Sea: Zubmariner Edition Review
  • On January 21, 2019

Sunless Sea: Zubmariner Edition from Failbetter Games is a challenging strategy game on PS4 that will chew you up and spit you out. Learn more about it in our Sunless Sea: Zubmariner Edition review!


In Sunless Sea: Zubmariner Edition you are tasked with surviving in a world where London has spent the last three decades submerged a mile below the surface. This, as you can imagine, is a rather inconvenient predicament, but you need to make the most of the situation at hand, so you will need to explore the vast and dark ocean before you as you try to make ends meet. This is your introduction to the bold new world of the Underzee – get it? The undersea, because, you know, everything is now under the sea.

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Controls are a bit of a handful. You can steer your ship with the left analog stick, and can gear up and down by pressing up or down on the D-Pad. Pressing left and right will allow you to cycle through your potential targets, so that you can use your deck weapon with the L2 button, your forward weapon with the L1 button, or your AFT weapon with the R1 button as needed. You can go full power with the Triangle button if you want to travel quickly through a dangerous area, and if you press and hold down the button, you can repair your ship. You can change your selected item with the right analog stick, and use said item with the R2 button. Pressing down on the R3 button will use your horn while doing so on the L3 button will toggle your lights.


The game will throw you into a tutorial at first so that you can get the hang of things. There are different tabs to keep track of which you can cycle through with the L1 and R1 buttons. First up, you need to choose your past, deciding who you were and where you want to go. Or you could skip this step and go straight into the zee. The choice is definitely up to you. You’re now a Captain, but what were you before this? You could have been a street urchin (bonus to Veils and skills of subtlety and evasion), a poet (bonus to Pages and skills of trickery and knowledge), a veteran of the campaign of 68 (bonus to Iron and the skill of causing direct damage), an ordained priest (bonus to Hearts and the skills of healing of morale), or a natural philosopher (bonus to Mirrors and the skills of detection and perception).

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You will also get to choose an ambition, that thing that drives you forward towards your goals. It could be finding your father’s bones since he was lost at zee, and even though you never knew him, you want to give his remains a proper burial. There is also immortality, the promise of eternal life, which does have a nice ring to it. You could also be driven by fulfillment, building up hundreds of tales during your time out at zee. There’s always the classic goal of gaining substantial wealth, especially when one is aware of what being poor feels like. And how does establishing your own colony sound?

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You’ll then pick how you’ll be addressed when out of your ship (Madam, Sir, My Lord, My Lady, Citizen, Captain), and your name and portrait. I suggest you read the Zumbariner tutorial so that you can learn more about how to acquire the knowledge needed to convert your ship into zumbarine for your cause so that you can explore the deep zee and find new items, creatures, and predicaments. There are other valuable resources for you to review with content on things such as how when you die it is not really the end since you will get to have another go with a new Unterzee layout as well as the new experience learned from your mistakes – future captains also inherit some of the skills, officers, equipment and money you had before you die, so you will slowly but surely make some much-needed progress even after death.


While staying close to London will certainly allow you to survive a bit longer, as there is no place like home, if you take some risks and explore your surrounding area you will get a chance to obtain Secrets and Echos. You can speak with your officers to spend Secrets to improve your abilities, while Echoes can be spent in ports to procure better equipment. You should also know that your prow-lamp, which dispels darkness and reduces Terror increase, as well as your engine which, as expected, drives your ship forward, require fuel to work. The more powerful your engine, the more fuel it will use, while all lamps use the same amount of fuel. Running out of fuel is not good, so always keep an eye on your reserves or else you will find yourself in a dangerous predicament.

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If you’re having a bit of trouble playing the game straight up as it is presented, with one autosave that is updated as you reach every port and said autosave being wiped out when you die, then you can switch to Merciful Mode. If you manually save or load then, your run will be changed to Merciful Mode, removing your chance of completing the game with an Invictus Token – a badge of honor for those worthy.

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The game includes a Platinum trophy and, as you’re probably expecting by now, this is going to be a very challenging Platinum trophy to achieve! The easy trophies are the ones you get for dying since you’re going to die a lot, and you’ll get a trophy for dying for the first time, one for dying from suffocation, another for being killed by an underwater creature, or for dying five and ten times in an unbroken lineage. The others will be awarded for spending a year at zee in an unbroken lineage, for escaping underwater combat by resurfacing or for suffering a variety of curses. And then there’s that one trophy for completing the game without saving manually, so good luck with that one!

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Sunless Sea: Zubmariner Edition is a brutally challenging strategy/sim release on PlayStation 4 that will test your skills in full. You’re getting the main game as well as the Zumbariner expansion, hence the name of this edition, with a single purchase, making this the definitive console version of the game. You’ll spend hours trying to micromanage things to make the most of your Echo so that you can keep your ship fueled and in tiptop shape and your crew properly fed so that they don’t have to resort to eating the rats on the ship… or any diseased former crew members. Are you up for the challenge?

This Sunless Sea: Zubmariner Edition review is based on a PlayStation 4 copy provided by Failbetter Games.


Review Overview

Challenging but interesting strategy exploration release