The Art of Darkness

Fallen London

May 14th, 2012 by Cobwebs

Fallen LondonWelcome. Delicious friend.

Three decades ago, London was stolen by bats. Dragged deep into the earth by the Echo Bazaar. The sun is gone. All we have is the gas-light of Mr Fires. But Londoners can get used to anything. And it’s quiet down here with the devils and the darkness and the mushroom wine. Peaceful.

But then YOU arrived.

Fallen London is a free browser-based interactive game set in a blackly-humorous Gothic underworld where London is quite literally underground. It was taken there by the Echo Bazaar (the game’s original title), a consortium of masters which control Fallen London’s businesses: Mr. Apples, for instance, controls agriculture (which is mushroom-based, of course), and Mr. Iron is in charge of industry. Certain storylines imply that someone known as the Traitor Empress–most likely Queen Victoria–allowed the city to be taken by the Bazaar in exchange for the life of her husband. The city has also found itself much closer to Hell, and the proximity means not only that devils appear in various storylines, but the citizens–including your own player character–often come back to life.

The newer version of the game has optional integration with Facebook and Twitter, which allows for some interesting expanded gameplay: You and your friends can form cliques and compete in tournaments, and you can also play “Living Stories,” in which game characters talk to you by Twitter DM or Facebook messaging.

Failbetter Games, the company behind the game, is also working on a tabletop spinoff called Knife & Candle; named, according to Wikipedia, “for the competitive sport within the setting that combines elements of tag and a free-for-all murder spree.”

MMORPG Info has a series of articles about the system’s gameplay, and Pissy Little Sausages has a hilarious review which likens the game to “sort of a tongue-in-cheek Victorian post-miniature-apocalypse. A bit Lovecraft meets Edward Gorey for tea on Baker Street.” That pretty much sums it up.

(Hat tip to Jes)

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