Sunless Skies: Reviewing 2019’s Most Deliciously Written Game

A murdered sun. A monument to the first rat in space. Smuggling souls, stories, and time itself. Your Inconvenient Aunt. These are but a few of the horrors and wonders you will encounter during your time in Sunless Skies’ haunted and hilarious universe.

It is the early 20th century, and imperialistic London has spread its reach to the heavens themselves. Spread between four separate biomes, your journey will be one of survival and discovery, as you captain your own locomotive through space. That’s right, locomotive. Your space ship is a train.

Your time in Sunless Skies will be split between a text-based RPG and top-down survival horror exploration. Both are quite good, but it’s Failbetter’s exquisite words that are the main attraction.

Failbetter Games is well-known for their signature writing style, both within and without of the gaming community. Both the mundane and the extraordinary are told through small snippets of flavor text, keeping you coming back for more. Specific and ephemeral, silly and chilling, it often stands in ironic contrast to itself. Some stories are more important than others, but all are entertaining and create a great sense of world-building. Characters don’t have exact names, rather they’re brief descriptions such as “The Incautious Driver”, “The Clay Conductor”, or “The Inadvisably Big Dog”. More often than not they serve to show off the writer’s talent at wordplay than anything else. Sunless Skies doesn’t have much of an overall story, though there are about a half-dozen endings so far (more to come in free updates and probably DLC someday) you can achieve if you want. But largely, the narrative shifts from story to story, occasionally overlapping or connecting. It gives the game a very dreamlike, and occasionally relaxing quality. You’re just a traveler, floating through the cosmos, stepping in and out of people’s lives…

…Except when your not. Space is full of dangerous foes, both human and not. As you chug along through the vast reaches of the heavens, you’ll encounter hostile ships, bugs, monsters, and beings that you’ll either have to kill or be killed by. This is done in real time and involves dodging around each other and getting in shots with your weapons to eventually wear down the enemies hull or health. It’s fairly simple, but allows for a lot of depth and strategy if you want. Unlike its predecessor, Sunless Sea, Sunless Skies now has multiple combat difficulty settings, tailoring the experience for the most casual or hardcore players. Either way, you will die at some point, but that’s all a part of the fun. A legacy system passes on some of your items, progress, and experience to a successor captain. Even this though, can be turned off, instead when you die you’ll reset to the last port you were at. I’d recommend even novice players stick with the default option though, its far less punishing than Sunless Sea was a helps build a sense of dread.

Speaking of dread, the Fear mechanic returns to Sunless Skies, with a few new modifications. Enemies aren’t your only, well, enemy in space. As you drift through cosmic horrors, you and your crew will gradually begin to build up fear. As your fear builds up, well, things begin to happen. Build your fear up enough and you will gain a semi-permanent nightmares point, which will cause more things to happen. Fear is actually pretty easy to manage and is not a threat on all but the longest of journies. Nightmares is a bit trickier, but there are some options to reduce them. Depending on where you are though, it may be a while until you reach one of said options. Normally you want to keep your fear as low as possible, but occasionally its fun to experiment by letting it build up. There are some pretty cool and terrifying story events that will come up, and the environment around you will begin to look and sound different as well.

Story and gameplay aren’t the only defining features of Sunless Skies, however. The art direction is also fantastic. As you explore outer space, you’ll notice the many-layered backdrop you fly against. Visual and audio cues add to the immersion. At ports, storylets and characters are illustrated with beautiful hand-drawn art. There’s never a dull scene, and some of the sights you’ll encounter are absolutely breathtaking. Sunless Skies is the kind of experience you can come away from and say “You wouldn’t believe the things I’ve seen”.

Sunless Skies is not a game for everyone, it is slow-paced, weird, and can be difficult at times, even on easier settings. However, if you want to talk with sentient mushrooms, smuggle barreled hours, or lose your mind, this may be the game for you.

Failbetter Games’ Sunless Skies costs $24.99 and is available from Steam, GOG, and Humble Bundle. Below I’ve included the Launch Trailer and my ongoing playthrough if you want to learn more.

Enjoy my content?  Support me on Patreon!

Discontinuing Google Plus Page

Hey everyone, just a brief announcement that due to Google shutting down Google +, I will be discontinuing all services with my page and shutting it down. This will have no effect on those Following my blog, its Twitter page, or posts on my personal Facebook page. Now, I strongly doubt many of you actually checked my Google + page, but I do know a few did regularly, so I thought it best to let them know. To the four to six people this will affect, sorry! Feel free to directly Follow my blog or check out my Twitter. As for everyone, I’m sorry for taking another hiatus, I’m almost done with several posts so I have at least a few weeks of content coming out soon.

Enjoy my content?  Support me on Patreon!

 

The Banner Saga Playthrough-Part Five

 

Hey everyone, and welcome to the penultimate chapter in my playthrough of the Banner Saga!

If you’re new to my playthrough but are interested in watching, I’d strongly recommend going back and watching Parts OneTwoThree and Four first.

In this episode, I play through most of Chapter 7, and promptly lose to the final boss because I’m very rusty at the game. Rook and friends are finally reunited, along with some new allies and potential foes. But they have little time for reunion, as Bellower is already here, and the final battle (at least for the first game!) is upon them.

Next time I will replay and (hopefully) beat the final battle, and watch the ending. Tissues recommended for the credits.

If you’ve enjoyed my playthrough so far continue to watch and please and support the developers at Stoic Studios by purchasing their games and soundtracks.  The Banner Saga Trilogy is available on all major platforms (including smartphones) and is rated T for Teen.

Enjoy my content?  Support me on Patreon!

One Year of Blogging!

Hey everyone, today is just gonna be a bit of a micro-post, but I just wanted to announce that apparently, I’ve been blogging for one year! I haven’t been keeping track myself, but WordPress just notified me when I logged in today. To both my small but dedicated core audience and the many occasional readers I receive, thank you for your support and taking the time to read my ramblings. I’m looking forward to another year of blogging (since I’ve already paid for another year of WordPress) and hopefully this year will have more frequent and regular posts. We’ll see! I’ll certainly try! This is getting awkward now so I’m just gonna stop!

Enjoy my content?  Support me on Patreon!

Top Tips for Bible Study This New Year

Well, it looks like once again my post is late, this time by about two weeks.  Oh well, what can I do? (maybe actually write them on time) So, here we go.

Today, I’m gonna go over a few helpful tips that may be useful to you’re interested in Bible study.  I’m fairly certain most of my readers are, though if you aren’t, feel free to skip this post.  Or don’t, you might still find it interesting.  All of these techniques I use on a regular basis and have found extremely helpful.

  1. Understand Genre: One of the biggest mistakes I’ve seen many people make (I’m guilty of having made this mistake myself) is not recognizing the genre of a book in the Bible.  A book’s genre will greatly affect its meaning and value.  The Bible is a diverse collection of documents and ideas written over thousands of years, so pinning down a single book can make it much easier to understand.  Is it history, wisdom, parable, prophecy, apocalypse, gospel, myth, a letter (and which type of letter) or even a collection of erotic poetry (I’m looking at you Song of Songs).  These are just a sampling of the genres found in the Bible.  If you aren’t sure of a book’s genre, look it up, you’ll find plenty of helpful resources available online.
  2. Attempt to understand the original intent: Unfortunately for many of the books in the Bible, it’s difficult to decisively determine the original author’s meaning.  For some, it’s not even possible.  This is why we have over 40,000 denominations today, even though we’re all basing it off of (mostly) the same books.  In spite of this, don’t give up hope!  We can certainly try!  Researching the context in which a book was written can prove very useful, and we have a wealth of commentaries, some dating back to within decades of when these books were written, others from the top Biblical scholars of today.  Often times meaning can be distorted or even lost in the translation process.  Luckily, the everyday user can now find resources that will allow them to compare copies of the original texts with modern English.  If you’re extra-curious, turn to some extra-biblical texts.  These can help open your eyes to the world around the Biblical authors and understand events, culture, and social norms that may have influenced them.
  3. View the Bible Through the Lens of Christ: Some of you may be familiar with the term “hermeneutic”.  While this may sound like a technical, esoteric term, it really isn’t.  All a hermeneutic is is the viewpoint or perspective through which you study the bible.  There are many different hermeneutics out there, all of which are useful for extrapolating different meanings from the text.  One of my favorites is to view the Bible through the lens of Christ and his teachings.  As the Bible is so big and full of so many different ideas, I find this helpful in digging up truth that can be applied to my life.
  4. Midrash Aggadah: Study the Bible like Jesus!: Better yet, why not study the Bible like Jesus!  Due to the ambiguous nature of some portions of the Hebrew Bible (Old Testament), Jews had (and still have) a variety of study techniques for different situations.  One such tool is Midrash Aggadah, and it just so happens to be one of those favored by Jesus in the Gospels.  Rather than focusing on the legalistic nature of a passage, Midrash Aggadah attempts to find and extract the moral meaning or message from it.  Jesus would use this to find radically different and sometimes even new meaning from the same texts those around him were studying.  This isn’t just for the Hebrew Bible though, it’s also useful when studying the New Testament as well.
  5. Pray: Different groups of Christians have different opinions on the purpose and usefulness of prayer, but one thing that most agree on is for guidance from the Holy Spirit, or presence of God.  If you’re feeling puzzled by a passage, take a break, pray, and come back to it later.  You might just stumble upon a meaning you missed earlier.
  6. Study with Other Believers: One of the perks of being a part of a religious group (i.e. church) is being a member of a collection of different people.  Each of you comes from a different walk of life with their own unique traits and experiences.  By discussing your studies together, or even studying together, you can share your insights with others, and likewise, hear from them.  You might just be surprised by what you hear, and in a good way!
  7. Don’t Be Afraid to Get It “Wrong”: I would agree with the statement that there is objective truth in the Bible, and that many passages have a definitive intended meaning.  But if there’s one thing we’ve learned throughout history and even today, is that this meaning can be difficult to find, and that not everyone is going to agree.  This is ok.  The purpose of your Bible study isn’t to find this objective truth, because frankly, it’s impossible.  Rather, it should be to build your relationship with God and other believers, and to find truths that apply to your life.  Many Bible passages were written with the intent of having multiple meanings, this is even built into the very language much of it was written in.  So when you and your peers come to different conclusions, don’t be discouraged, but encouraged.  With the right mindset, you might just learn something new.

So here are seven tips for a new year, I figured that’s a good number.  I often employ a very academic approach when studying the Bible, which some of you may find unfamiliar or even uncomfortable.  That’s fine.  What works for me will not necessarily work for you.  I do hope, however, that for those who are interested, I’ve inspired a year of discovery and reinvested interest.  And who knows, you might even employ a trick or two that I’ve discussed today.

Enjoy my content?  Support me on Patreon!

New Posts Coming Soon

Hey guys, sorry for not posting anything these last couple of weeks!  I’ve been on break from school, and spent a lot of time visiting with friends and family.  I probably could have fit in a post or two, but it just didn’t end up happening.  I promise to post something by the beginning of next week, even if it’s just a short snippet or game playthrough.  Happy New Year!

Enjoy my content?  Support me on Patreon!

The Banner Saga Playthrough-Part Four

Hey everyone, welcome back to my playthrough of The Banner Saga!  Today I’ll be playing Chapters Five and Six.

If you’re new to my playthrough but are interested in watching, I’d strongly recommend going back and watching Parts One, Two, and Three first.

Chapter Five is very short ( as in less than 10 minutes) and introduces a new, and very important, character in addition to expanding on the world’s mythology.  Chapter Six returns to a more traditional format and follows Rook’s journey, as well as how terrible I am at resource management.

If you’ve enjoyed my playthrough so far continue to watch and please and support the developers at Stoic Studios by purchasing their games and soundtracks.  The Banner Saga Trilogy is available on all major platforms (including smartphones) and is rated T for Teen.

Enjoy my content?  Support me on Patreon!

On God Providing and Why Bad Things Happen

A common theme we see throughout both the Hebrew Bible (Old Testament) and the New Testament is that “God will provide”.  This is assured both implicitly and explicitly hundreds, if not thousands of times (If someone could give an exact number in the comments that would be greatly appreciated).  As such I am not going to bother going over exact verses today, rather, I’ll be going over what I take away from them and what that means.

Numerous times throughout the Bible we see God provide for his creation, sometimes in big ways, sometimes in little ways, and often in ways in between.  We see this in history, poetry, myth, genealogy, prophecy, and parable.  It’s one of the most shared ideas among the authors of the different biblical books, and it is certainly a comforting one.  So then why do so many people go without, and suffer in our world?

When I see “God will provide” I read it as “God has provided”.  Sure, I believe miracles can and have happened, but I’m pretty sceptical of them in general.  Rather, I believe God has provided from the start.  We have the resources to stop poverty, reduce violence and discrimination, and to lift up “the least of these” (Oops, it looks like I just quoted a Bible verse.  Bummer.)  But you know what?  Largely, we’ve chosen not to.

A common question and field of thought is, Why could an omnipotent and completely good God allow bad things to happen?  Known as Theodicy, this discussion and often debate has been pursued by humankind for thousands of years, and has no clear answer.  Things get even more complicated (albeit more interesting) when you throw things like atheism and non-deistic religions/spiritualities into the mix.  So why does God allow bad things to happen?  I’m gonna turn that question right around.  Why do we allow bad things to happen?  God has provided, we have everything we need.  The world will never be perfect, but that doesn’t mean we can’t get it pretty darn close.  Sometimes as Christians (if you, the reader, are one) we hyper-focus on the Great Commission (Spread the Good News) and forget or place too-little emphasis on the Great Commandment (Love God, Love Others).  After all, didn’t the Great Commandment come first, and isn’t it the core of all Christ’s teachings?  Many of the problems in the world are our fault.  We choose to allow them to happen, to still exist.  So why do we allow bad things to happen?

 

Enjoy my content?  Support me on Patreon!

 

The Banner Saga Playthrough-Part Three

Greetings, to the several people who are watching my playthrough of The Banner Saga.  Last week I took a brief hiatus for Thanksgiving, and now we’ll jump right back into the action with Chapter Four.

If you’re new to my playthrough but are interested in watching, I’d strongly recommend going back and watching Part One and Part Two first.

Chapter Four returns to Rook and friends as they realize their newly found haven may not be as safe as they initially expected and follows them as they seek new shelter from the encroaching Dredge.

If you’ve enjoyed my playthrough so far continue to watch and please and support the developers at Stoic Studios by purchasing their games and soundtracks.  The Banner Saga Trilogy is available on all major platforms (including smartphones) and is rated T for Teen.

Enjoy my content?  Support me on Patreon!

What is Generational Theology?

As promised, today I’ll be going over a theology topic.  It’s not a particularly deep topic, nor is it inherently complicated, but it an important topic that I think doesn’t get addressed enough.

Merriam-Webster defines theology as

the study of religious faith, practice, and experience
especially : the study of God and of God’s relation to the world

Essentially, theology is how we view God, God’s nature, and how these views will affect the way we live our life.  While the term theology can technically refer to any religion, it usually is usually used when discussing Abrahamic religions, and when I use it will be in reference to Christianity unless I say otherwise.

In an ideal world, we (Christians), would come to our theological standpoints after extensively studying the Bible, church history/tradition, translation/canon issues, etc.  However, most Christians don’t have the time or interest to do so.  Most will be content to simply listen to sermons and/or go to Sunday school and/or do the occasional guided bible study.  This is perfectly fine.  Not everyone needs to be a theologian, and after all, it’s more important as a Christian how we live our lives than if we can complete a multiple choice test on what’s “proper theology”.  Because spoiler alert, with over 40,000 denominations worldwide, with an estimated two new ones forming every day, I can guarantee that everyone is a heretic to someone.  The danger, however, that can (and often does) stem from taking what we’re told about God at face value, is Generational Theology.

So, what is Generational Theology?  Simply put, Generational Theology is any theological belief that is relatively new but we assume has always been a Christian belief simply because it’s been believed for a couple of generations or more.  Basically, we forget that it wasn’t always an accepted belief.  Generational Theology is not an inherently “good” or “bad” thing, but it often has negative consequences.

The purpose of this post is not to tell you what to believe theologically, but rather to foster critical thinking so you will examine your beliefs and come to the conclusion of what you believe is true.  Having an informed opinion is important.  That being said, I feel I should give a clear example of Generational Theology, one that hopefully shouldn’t be too controversial.  So, here’s one: The Rapture.

That’s right, the Rapture is not a biblical concept and is quite new in Christianity, less than 200 years old in fact.  Historically, the book of Revelation has been viewed as allegorical or metaphorical, it actually wasn’t originally supposed to be in the Bible.  It is an example of the Apocalypse genre, a genre of literature that was quite popular but largely denounced among early Christianity.  When establishing the Biblical canon (which in and of itself is a complicated topic) the addition of Revelation to the canon was hugely controversial.  The majority of authorities were against it, but a vocal minority was able to just barely get it in.  Even if we were to assume the book of Revelation was to be taken literally, the term “Rapture” is never found in any form inside.  To this day the majority of Christians worldwide don’t believe in the Rapture, or the idea that believers will be taken up to Heaven at the end times and then Jesus will come back and commit torture and genocide on all unbelievers all whilst fighting the antichrist (Who by the way, was Nero Caesar.  The Antichrist has already lived and died).  The idea of the rapture originated with Puritans and was popularized by John Nelson Darby, a theologian who was frequently criticized for rejecting Christ’s nature and the message of the Gospel.  So, as much as you may think the Rapture has always been a Christian belief, it has not, and even today is not believed by the majority of Christians.

Hopefully, now you understand the importance of thinking critically.  There’s no need to become a full-blown theologian or even put in an enormous amount of effort if that doesn’t interest you, but I’ve found this mantra helpful:

If you can’t imagine Jesus doing, saying, or teaching it; it probably isn’t true.

After all, God gave us brains, we might as well use them.  Or, as the author of Proverbs more aptly put,

It is the Glory of God to conceal a matter, and the honor of Kings to discern it

Proverbs 25:2

That’s it for this post, have a good week and a Happy Thanksgiving to my American readers!

 

Enjoy my content?  Support me on Patreon!