20 January, 2017

Fallen London Review

Fallen London is a browser game, with a focus on short stories and interesting snippets of information, set in an alternate universe in which London has been taken by a mysterious force and brought down to the cavernous world of the Neath inside Earth.

If that didn't turn you away, good. It's actually quite interesting. You start your adventure in New London, having come down from the 19th century world, and from there on, a multitude of stories are available to you. Without spoiling them, I will say that they come in both short and long, in obvious and not-so-obvious, and in many possibly surprising ways. And all of them are made so that you can explore the world of Fallen London while you're at it, learning about them and getting into the mindset that is the Neath and all its secrets.

And what secrets they are. A beautifully crafted, well-written world for you to explore, every time finding something new or interesting out there or uncovering curious tales. And if you don't like the stories you've gone through then you are often free to switch sides, change directions or move along to other tales entirely. There is certainly no shortage of places and tales to explore, and you can just ignore most of these to do your own things. Do mind that while some things won't change, some choices have actual consequence.

The way it works seems to be very well made and designed for modern life. You start with and can store up to 20 actions, with one refreshing every 10 minutes. This means that you will have a full action bar a little over 3 hours after you've spend them all. Which, for the most common work and school times means that you can play once in the morning before you go, then at lunch, and once more at your coffee break or when you get home. There are suitably short stories that you can spend a few minutes on them, and then spend the rest of your actions on some repeatable storylets if you are running low on time, and longer stories chained together that you can spend days trying to get to the bottom of. The design appears to be full of this, and is incredibly well made to fit in to modern life without issue.

Progression is solid, with four stats for you to raise over time. The stats are "watchful", "dangerous", "shadowy" and "persuasive", and they will grow both with success and with failure, more so if you try difficult challenges. You might at times feel like you are missing something, repeating the same things over and over, but there is always your own home to go to, with options to grow your statistics much more quickly through other players. And that brings us to player interaction. Sadly quite limited, but with enough ways to send things to each other (not your normal items though, that would be too easy), and to speak with others that you do not feel isolated. It is not an entirely single player game, but certainly has you doing things on your own for most of it.

In the end, Fallen London is a long-lasting, but surprisingly casual game that doesn't take up much of your time. It is well worth trying, and even without spending any money you can enjoy the great stories and explore its secrets. It is well worth the time to give it a try, and certainly worth the effort. As far as persistent browser games go, Fallen London may very well be the best I've played.

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