So you’ve got yourself a locomotive to traverse the expansive realms of Sunless Skies. Here’s a few things you should know before you stoke your engine.
Once you start a new game in Sunless Skies, you’re treated to a very brief but informative tutorial that takes you through the basics of the game. Then, you’re left to the mercy of the High Wilderness—well, except for the occasional hint. Here, have a cup of tea and we’ll take you through some tips and tricks to make your journey smoother (and have your inevitable death come later).
#1 — Use your scout as much as you can (if you can afford to)
Although the tutorial does introduce you to your (unwilling) bat scout, it’s a game’s mechanic that’s easy to forget. I suffered many a death in my first game because I’d completely forgotten about using the scout. Walk not in my footsteps, but press the F key to dispatch your scout.
While your scout can be pretty handy for finding wrecks, resources, floating supplies and the like, what you really need a scout for is finding new stations to dock at. Remember, though, that the scout will take a small amount of your supplies. Usually, the benefits outweigh the cost, but if you are sailing with few supplies and a large crew to feed, maybe reconsider your options.
#2 — You can hit cruise control
The game doesn’t tell you (at least, it didn’t tell me), but there’s actually a cruise control option available for your locomotive. By default, this is mapped to the C key. Hit it to have your locomotive move straight forward, so you don’t need to hold down the W key to keep it chugging along.
You can still turn your locomotive while it’s in cruise control mode! Just keep an eye out, or you might end up smashing into something.
#3 — There’s no profit or loss when trading locomotives
Once you make a certain sum of money, you can trade in the Orphean for another locomotive at a central station (like New Winchester or London). A locomotive is a big investment, and you might think there’s no looking back once you do buy one. Have no fear: you can trade in your new locomotive for the same price you purchased it at.
This is especially handy for when you need a quick boost of money: just trade your fancy new train engine for a cheaper one. The locomotives of Sunless Skies aren’t that different to each other, after all. Besides, you can always work around any shortcomings of a ‘downgraded’ locomotive.
#4 — You can check each station’s export on the map
Hit Tab to access your map, and then click on a station to find out what it exports. To be clear, this only tells you what’s available for sale at the general market of that station. Apart from that export, there might be a bargain for a different item as well.
Usually, it’s best to stock up on bargains when you can. Still, if you need an item without having to harvest it or go looking for a bargain, this is a good option.
#5 — When upgrading locomotives, budget extra money
Once you have enough money to upgrade your locomotive, the game will let you know accordingly. It’s tempting to jump on the offer and grab a fancy new ride, but doing so might set your purse back severely.
Always budget a good sum more than what you need to buy the locomotive. If you’re looking to buy one that costs 3,500 sovereigns, it’s a good idea to have at least 5,000 sovereigns instead. This will give you enough money to buy your way out of a jam when necessary. A poor captain is, very often, a dead captain.
#6 — You can turn in port reports over and over again
One of the most painless and reliable ways to make money in Sunless Skies is to turn in port reports. Just head up to a port, and if you manage to enter and get a good look around, you’ll have the option to write a port report for it. This can then be turned in at (or near) the central station for favours from one of the factions in the local region.
Once you’ve turned in a port report, you can go back to the port and write up another report to get 100 sovereigns and some favour. Very handy, especially as you can use your favour to get useful items like Otherworldly Artefacts, Unlicensed Charts, Ministry-Stamped Permits, and more.