This beautiful Steampunk adventure starts strong, with a fantastic premise and a beautiful intro that promises a rich, atmospheric experience, but sadly, that promise is quickly broken. To be fair, Sunless Skies isn't strictly an adventure game. It's more like a “roguelike,” a kind of game characterized by randomly-generated dungeons and punishing gameplay, where the player can be permanently killed and have to start all over again. To enjoy roguelikes, you must be a patient, hardy soul. Though not set in a dungeon, Sunless Skies takes this unforgiving approach, and little effort is made to let newbies learn and progress. Risk and difficulty are high from the get-go, more or less ensuring failure and frustration for new players. Making things worse, there's no manual Save and auto-saves occur only at major ports. That means you're likely to spend thirty minutes chugging slowly around the map looking for your first objective, get killed by a raider, and have to start all over again.
If repeated restarts aren't enough to discourage you, the tedium of travel likely will be. Locomotives (even upgraded) are so slow that even the hardiest of players will be wishing for auto-pilot after an hour or two. It's a shame the developers went this roguelike route, because the decision's bound to shut out a lot of gamers. Sunless Skies is a beautiful, well-written game, and given a more inclusive approach (or at least broader difficulty settings), gothic horror/adventure fans would no doubt love it. As it is though, only a small subset of gamers will have the grit to withstand the punishment of lost game time and constant restarts. Less accommodating gamers must seek adventure elsewhere.