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Fallen London

by Failbetter Games

Part of Fallen London
Fantasy
2009

Web Site

(based on 29 ratings)
5 member reviews

About the Story

Poet or Assassin? Lover or Spy? Choose your fate in Fallen London, a gothic metropolis a mile beneath the surface of the earth.

An epic adventure where you live a sometimes horrific, often curious, but always polite life next door to the Underground Echo Bazaar and down the road from Hell. Escape from a prison housed entirely in a stalactite and make your way as you choose among the denizens in a dark but cheerful city which is part steampunk, two parts Lovecraft, and a good dash of intricate Victorian melodrama based on qualities that can be sought out or bought at the Bazaar.

Fallen London requires actions to play, which are slowly replenished over time, so the adventure becomes a story played over weeks and months in small doses for those who are fans of its intricate world and lore.

Game Details

Language: English (en)
Current Version: Unknown
License: Online Web Game - Free/Micro
Development System: Storynexus
Forgiveness Rating: Polite
IFID: Unknown
TUID: y9m60ythcj2xn9r

Referenced in Sunless Sea, by Failbetter Games

Editorial Reviews

Rock Paper Shotgun
Impressions: Fallen London
The strangeness of the world is the main reward for play. Itís dripping with lore, obscure and refreshingly odd, and the writing is the equal of the inventive setting. While the stop-start nature of the interactions may irritate some, it hasnít bothered me in the slightest. In fact, itís probably the only thing thatís prevented me from tearing through all the content in a few hours, although that said there are apparently 400,000 words to be read. And how ace is that? Not 100 locations, sixteen levels or 20 enemy types. Itís a game measured in words and they are words to be savoured.
See the full review

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Member Reviews

5 star:
(17)
4 star:
(5)
3 star:
(3)
2 star:
(3)
1 star:
(1)
Average Rating:
Number of Reviews: 5
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Most Helpful Member Reviews


11 of 12 people found the following review helpful:
Great atmosphere, bad story, detestable design, December 17, 2014
by Victor Gijsbers (The Netherlands)
Fallen London is a game specifically designed to get you playing it in bite-sized bits throughout the day, every day. It accomplishes this by limiting the number of turns you are allowed to play, and then replenishing this resource by one whenever ten minutes of real time pass. When you log into the game, you can play the maximum of 20 turns; after that, you will be allowed to play a new turn every 10 minutes. This means that optimal play requires you to log in every 200 minutes (slightly over 3 hours), while the temptation to get back to their website and play one more turn will re-arise every 10 minutes. (Probably while you are trying to do productive work.)

There is -- of course -- another way in which you can replenish your turns, which is by paying real money. You can restore 20 actions by paying $2.50. Tempting you to spend real money on replenishing turns is in fact the only reason that Fallen London uses a real-time limited number of turns; for the rest it is just a frustration-creating device that has no advantages for the player.

Of course, getting people to pay real money for more turns almost requires an in-game economy where turns can be exchanged for in-game benefits. In order to supply this, Fallen London sets up a core game system that revolves entirely around grinding. You'll have to increase four main stats, dozens of story stats, and dozens of ingredients in order to unlock new stories... and of course in order to improve your ability to grind and increase your main stats, story stats and ingredients, which can then be used to ... well, you know how this works.

Many of the game's grinding loops are based on trading time for security. You might, for instance, decide to become a great writer. You'll need to increase your "Potential" to do that, which you do by writing stories. If you try to write an easy story, you'll have a high chance of success, but your Potential will increase only a little. If you write a hard story, you have a low probability of success, but the potential reward is great. You can, however, increase your probability of success by writing more pages of draft material. This costs turns. So you will be spending dozens of turns clicking just the same few links again and again in order to create draft material, always wondering whether the time has already come to hazard your investment on the roll of the dice, or whether you should spend a few more turns in order to increase the chance of success.

This design is not just terrible, it is detestable. Fallen London wants to seduce you into logging in again and again, every couple of hours, or even every ten minutes, so you can engage in meaningless grinding that will allow you to improve some numbers on the screen, the prime use of which is that they'll help you in grinding more to improve them even further. While it may not quite be the interactive fiction equivalent of World of Warcraft, it certainly tries to get close. If you value your time and have even the slightest tendency to lose yourself to addicting game mechanics, you'll want to stay as far away from Fallen London as possible.

So why do people spend time with this game, and why do they even enjoy it? This has much to do with the game's primary strength, which is its writing and atmosphere. A Gothic, Victorian, subterranean London may sound trite, but Failbetter Games manages to make Fallen London feel fresh and engaging by taking the material in all kinds of weird and mysterious directions. The player is thrown into the deep, and is left to construct a coherent vision of the world from the many tiny fragments that he or she is given. Combined with the generally very good prose, this makes Fallen London a world that one is eager to explore and learn more about.

What is ultimately disappointing, though, is the quality of the story that arises. Fallen London feeds you many "storylets", but they rarely come together to form a "story", a greater narrative in which your character develops, acts, and changes the world. Two phenomena that show this problem vividly are the infinite repeatability of storylets -- you can just go to the same person again and again and play through the same story involving them again and again -- and the utter abstraction of most of what happens. For instance: you follow someone through town, and as a result you get... 10 whispered secrets. Not 10 actual secrets, with actual content, but the value "10" next to a piece of in-game currency called "whispered secrets". Or you spend dozens of your turns writing a literary tale, and when it is finished... the game doesn't even tell you what the tale is about. Of course, limitless grinding requires repeatability and abstraction, but it is here in particular that we see how the basic game design of Fallen London, while it might lead to money being made, is incompatible with achieving excellence in what ought to really matter to a story game, namely, story. The game continually promises to give you a great narrative, and it consistently fails to deliver.

Fallen London is a game on which a lot of creativity and obvious talent has been spent and, I'm afraid, wasted. Reactions to the game vary wildly, though, so you might want to try it out for yourself -- if, that is, you think you can resist the lure of a game that always wants to tempt you into wasting your time grinding to increase meaningless numbers.

2 of 3 people found the following review helpful:
Warning- You will just get started and have to stop, December 25, 2014
by Chai Hai (Kansas City KS)
Boo. I wanted to like this game, had fun starting it. But the fact that you're only allowed 20 actions fails.

I either play once a day with limited actions, or buy more. Eesh. You get a little bit into it, just starting to figure things out, and instead of letting you play, it makes you arbitrarily wait. Booooo, boo I say!

Either make it so there's unlimited turns (as it should be), but if you MUST charge money, have people charged once and then get unlimited. Paying for 20 more actions is a gyp.

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful:
Not your typical IF game.., December 10, 2014
The moment you turn the game on, you can see that it's very different to what you are used to playing. Instead of being a parser-command game, a CYOA choice game (Twine), or even a Choicescript game, Fallen London is more of a very basic point and click game. Reminds me of those games that you can play on FB.

Fallen London stars you as a man from the Victorian ages, where basically everything around you is dark and dull. It was a age when the poor, well, lived a really hard and rough life while the rich just gets to slack away with all the money that they had in their sacks.

You start the game by escaping a small prison using your brains and brawns and starting life anew from there. There's plenty of places to go, and plenty of things to do. There's even opportunities for you that is in the form of cards which you can select. Opportunities usually gives you interesting scenarios and jobs to perform, such as (Spoiler - click to show)a man who happens to be chased by the 'supernatural', and thieves asking for your help to assist them in stealing some jewels.

After playing this game for a while, it starts to resemble a board game that I used to play called Elder Signs: Omens, or at least its game on Android. It had Lovecraftian and dark themes, and this game is not too far behind in terms of similarity (No Cthulhu, sorry). You really need to have some luck when you take on the choices, because if you lose to the other 49%, there goes your reward and upgrades that are so desperately needed.

Overall, this game is a must to play whenever you have some spare time. You won't regret it. Just give it a try and you will find yourself sucked into the immersive world of Fallen London.

Note: The in-game currency is bad.

See All 5 Member Reviews

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The following polls include votes for Fallen London:

Best Steampunk games by Alyssa Barstow
Looking for Steampunk style games- something with the flair of the Fallen London text game or a story like Incarceron. Can be any length.

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This is version 3 of this page, edited by Emily Short on 25 February 2016 at 9:20am. - View Update History - Edit This Page - Add a News Item