Fallen London - This doesn't flounder
| Fallen London

Fallen London isn't a new game. It's a miniaturised adaptation of a 2009 browser hit that featued a whopping 1.2 million lines of dialogue, but with some added bells, whistles, and squeaky clean polish.

This Gothic, Victorian imagining is a text-adventure, RPG hybrid, with devilish design choices which set out to explore the themes of both survival and sacrifice.

And after hours of play, I'm happy to say it has hooked it's delicious, monstrously sized tendrils into me.

So, where's London and why has it fallen?

Well, obviously bats came along and carried it underground so it would be surrounded by dark ocean sea creatures from the depths of hell. What were you expecting?

London is now under the dictatorship of the Echo Bazaar, a sentient being governed by several masters, each one responsible for different strands of business.

You play an escaped prisoner who must choose their own path, whether that's finding nourishment from the corpses of rats, resorting to a life of crime, or convincing someone you'd make a really good house mate even though you don't intend to pay any rent.

Fallen London sets you up with 20 Actions and Opportunity cards every ten to fifteen minutes, though you can buy more through IAP.

These cards are used to progress the various storylines in the game, the outcomes of which are determined by individual personality traits that develop as you attempt different challenges.

For instance, you could be trying to follow someone without being detected, but if your Shadowy or Watchful skill is low, you're more likely to be spotted.

All challenges have a set amount of change points, and in some cases you'll need to use as many as 5 of your cards just to perform one action, which can be extremely costly.

There are certain bounties which can only be attempted when the appropriate prerequisite has been fulfilled, or you have the right statistical level.

Each bounty has an amount of risk associated with it. With straightforward challenges at around 100%, you're almost certain to pass, whereas passing chancy challenges at around 41% is very much touch and go.

Whether or not you complete the bounty is immaterial though as you can actually learn more from your mistakes than your successes.

Still, you need to be careful as you can inherit some menacing qualities which inconvenience your character, such as nightmares, wounds, and even scandals.

But it's all words. I like pretty pictures and videos

It's true. There are more words in Fallen London than images, but that actually works to the game's benefit.

You're given just enough imagery to paint a rough outline, but the descriptions allow your imagination to truly roam free and illustrate the gritty undertones of this topsy turvy universe.

But whether it's the sinister, steampunk-esque score or random acts of generosity and benevolance that define your experience, Fallen London remains a very personal, always refreshing experience.

The free to play nature of the game can be frustrating, as there are regular interuptions in gameplay. The game also forces you to sign up to the Story Nexus system in order to play.

This can present issues as the game needs to be online, and we have encountered some occasional server downtime issues, meaning you can't play at all.

However, Forever London is solid, and the experience is always engaging. It's constantly being updated with new content, so there will always be plenty to sink your crooked teeth into.

While not quite on the same level as the likes of Sorcery, or as creative as Lifeline, Fallen London is the gift that keeps on giving in brilliant text adventure form.

Fallen London - This doesn't flounder

Fallen London will find a way to get under your skin with its compelling world but some odd technical and mechanical choices can break the immersion
Ray Willmott
Ray Willmott
When not objecting to witnesses in Phoenix Wright or gushing over Monkey Island, Ray does social things for Steel Media. He also pretends to look like Han Solo in his profile picture.