Video Game Review: Fallen London

    londonThe year is 1893. Perhaps you’re a loquacious poet, a genteel thief, or a boisterous hunter. Maybe you’re an addict in search of higher thrills. You could be a flirtatious social climber, an ardent professor, or even a reputed anarchist. But for whatever reason, you have come to the ‘Neath: a world full of night and mysteries, where secrets and blood and screams are as common currency as money itself — a world that always seems to be slightly bigger than you’d thought it was before. Congratulations, friend! Welcome to Fallen London.

    In 1861 of this alternate history, Queen Victoria sold London to the powers of the ‘Neath in order to save the life of her husband, Prince Albert. Despite the ever-present darkness, the diet of mainly mushrooms and rats, and the new rule of the cryptic Masters and enigmatic Bazaar, most Londoners manage to live quite comfortably in their transplanted city. And then you came along.

    Life in Fallen London, at first, is about making acquaintances and developing skills. You’ll find that making good decisions is nearly impossible, and what seems like the right decision may have unexpected consequences. Making bad decisions, however, is always an option. Sometimes going the unwise route makes a more interesting story, but only you can decide what that story is and what it means for your character. The ‘Neath is full of people who have made very unwise choices, and their actions reverberate throughout centuries. Thematically, the game is about compromise and complicity.

    Fallen London is a completely free browser-based game, and its creator, Alexis Kennedy, has every intention of it remaining so. In fact, there are plans for Fallen London coming to iOS as an app in the near future. That kind of business model generally isn’t profitable, so Fallen London includes the option to become an Exceptional Friend, which has several in-game benefits. Failbetter Games, the development studio, also has Sunless Sea out, a rogue-like video game where you can sail the Unterzee, go mad, and eat your crew. Sunless Sea is something of a sister game to Fallen London, set in the same universe and simply a little broader.

    While I would recommend that you come at first for the Victorian atmosphere and the Lovecraftian themes, stay for the lore. What you find will shock and amaze, horrify and awe. But as they say: In the matters of the Bazaar, look to love always.

    Rebekah Ross is a young woman living in the Poconos of Pennsylvania. She's an English major, and for good reason: she loves reading and analyzing literature and media. She also has two cats, a dog, a brother and a sister to call her own, and enjoys mostly every minute of it. You can reach Rebekah at starshinespangles@outlook.com.

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