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This page will serve as a basic How to Play Guide for Sunless Skies. While there is very little information available at this time, we urge you to check back often, as new information is being added all the time! Feel free to edit this guide with any tips, tricks, and suggestions. For a more detailed guide to your first hours in Sunless Skies, see Guide: Your First Captain.


Sunless Skies, like Sunless Sea, is an open-world survival game, in which you have to manage your fuel and supplies.

Unlike in Sea, which is divided into randomized blocks containing higher-level locations as one moves farther east, Skies contains four spheres or "sky-domains", analogous lore-wise to real-life star systems. These are further divided into three layers: at the core of each domain will be a major hub port (New Winchester in the Reach, London in Albion, Pan in Eleutheria and Sky Barnet in the Blue Kingdom) in which one can purchase various weapons or additions for their sky-ship, turn in port reports for money, and otherwise recover from whatever horrors they may have encountered in the wider Wilderness. These hubs, as can be guessed, serve the same function as London does in Sea. Further out from this core region are middle and outer rings of the circle which contain procedurally-generated locations (floating beanstalks, ancient ruins, et al.) and randomly-placed ports.

Getting started[]

On starting a new game, you will have the option of a Legacy or a Merciful campaign. "Legacy" will permanently kill your captain upon death, forcing you to start with a new one. "Merciful" will give you the option to return to before your captain was killed, if you so wish, or start with a new one. There is no way to change between these two modes once the game is started.

You begin the game as First Officer, and the opening sequence becomes a tutorial walking you through the controls and leading you to New Winchester. Pursue every option in the tutorial, as there are no significant risks. After completing the tutorial, you begin with a ship equipped with one weapon (the Jerusalem), a Diffident Bat scout and 100 sovereigns.

On arrival at New Winchester, you will be prompted to create your character. You can create a cameo, choose your captain's name, means of address, and background (See Facets for more information on choosing a background). Your captain's Ambition can also be chosen, although only "Wealth" and "Fame" are recommended for new Captains. You will have the chance to review your captain before starting the game, and can go back and edit if you so wish.

Default Controls[]

Action Key Binding Alternate key
Forward W Up Arrow
Backward S Down Arrow
Turn Left A Left Arrow
Turn Right D Right Arrow
Strafe Left Q
Strafe Right E
Cruise Control C
Send out Scout F
Primary Weapon Left Shift
Secondary Weapon Space
Pause/Menu Esc
Map Tab
Interact R
Debug F12

Controls can be changed at any time by pressing "Esc" to bring up the menu, then selecting Options and Controls.

Sending out your Scout will use a small portion of your Supplies. If a port is nearby, you will be alerted that your scout "found something of interest", and the location will be marked on your map, although not the name.

Levelling up[]

You gain Experience by discovering new places on the map (as well as ports, there are certain set pieces that trigger this), by defeating Sky-Beasts and selecting the option for Experience, fulfilling Prospects and by completing some storylet actions.

With this your captain will level up, and you can pick new Facets to increase their skills. Skills can also be increased by recruiting Officers from certain ports you visit.

Tips and tricks[]

Try out a variety of stories in each port you visit. You will be awarded with a gift for new captains in New Winchester (Fuel and Supplies), as well as a quest to deliver The Fastidious Inspector.

Visit The Promise of Days for information on Bargains and Prospects. By stopping at each port's Bazaar and buying up the bargains you can afford/carry, then selling them back at New Winchester, you can earn Sovereigns.

Due to the fact that terrain is "layered", unlike in Sea, it can be a concern as to whether an object is a background set piece or something you can crash into. Since the addition of the headlamps, however, it is now easy to see whether an object is in the foreground or not: if so, it will cast a shadow.

See also[]