Allow the Exceptional Hat to offer a toothy smile and a friendly greeting as you enter Fallen London. If you think the city is a dark place now, just wait until you start to explore the Neath...
I first found Failbetter Games' "Fallen London" in a fairly early version - when it was still known as Echo Bazaar. Sadly I had to quit when studies took priority over games, but I loved the world, and was excited to go back this week in order to review it.
One thing which I loved then and adore now was the very beginning, when the character profile gives you the option to choose male, female, or...a polite refusal to declare.
Not only does the game give you these choices, it makes no difference - let me repeat that Zero Difference - to any of the storylets. From romance to finding your nemesis, your gender affects nothing: only your choices do. Nobody cares what gender, race or species you are, they will try to romance you, hire you, betray you, or kill you just the same.
Truly agender gaming is still all but nonexistent, but Fallen London pulls it off effortlessly by not hinging anything on what you choose to present yourself as.
Fallen London is rich with choices. Every story, every card, gives you a new choice, a new path - and there's nothing at all stopping you from becoming as complex and contradictory a character as you like. Help the dockworkers one turn, betray them the next. Let the lady take the your cab - but don't forget to pickpocket from her as she passes.
It's a supersized Choose Your Own Adventure, only like the books it's never ending, and always growing. And also - death? Not such a big deal. Just beware the nightmares...
It's a dark world, with surprising patches of light. It's rich, it's twistedly funny, and it's fascinating enough to keep you coming back. Hints of history, piecing together theories and bits of story, exploring the streets, trying to keep out of trouble (mostly) while actually getting into plenty of it...
It's a rich, mysterious, beautifully built world. Step in and...embrace the madness.
There are times in the day when the server gets pretty slow, avoid them if possible, or be prepared for everything to take a while longer.
Also worth noting - there is no pay to win element here (there really is no "win", as such), but there are ways to get ahead a little faster and support the company as you do so.
And, hey, do say hello once you're all settled in ;) http://fallenlondon.storynexus.com/Profile/Geekilee
Rating: 9/10. Exceptional.
P.S. As an added bonus - do check out their storynexus. It's what Fallen London, The Night Circus (a game accompanying the book), and the forthcoming Sunless Sea were built on, and it's open for anyone to create their own world in.