While I am old enough to remember the days when saves were local only, and wise players would do well to back up their save folder religiously, it’s very uncommon in 2023 for a title not to take advantage of the cloud save support provided by whatever platform they are on.
Recently, I decided to refresh my Windows 11 install, and upon reinstalling my Os and games, I was disappointed to see that not only didn’t Sunkenland utilise cloud saves, but it also did not store the files in documents, where they would automatically be backed up by One Drive and similar services.
I admit I should have considered that the developers had broken from the norm and added no support for cloud saves, but still, after almost a decade of almost every game and platform supporting cloud saves, the fault does not purely rest on my shoulders.
While Sunkenland offers a fair bit of content for its price point, the map is rather small, and islands are rather short on resources, with even endgame islands rarely having enough wood and ores to craft more than one or two top-tier items/workbenches.
To make matters worse, resources respawn at an alarmingly slow rate, and it’s not uncommon for endgame players to find themselves unable to progress due to certain non-respawning materials running out long before the player stops requiring the same material in vast quantities.
In a recent playthrough, I found myself devastatingly short on electronics despite having explored almost every landmark and captured a vast majority of NPC garrisoned islands, with only the very top tier of islands left to go, which ironically required a more powerful arsenal that could only be constructed once I gained access to a vast quantity of steel and electronics.
Fortunately, the developers are aware of how frustrating this is. Sunkenland’s roadmap includes some (rather vague) promises of addressing this issue “sometime in the future”, giving me and many others little hope that it will be addressed meaningfully anytime soon.
By default, Sunkenland loads the lowest visuals setting, and boy, is it rough.
Fortunately, the muddy visuals and terrible textures of the lowest are not all Sunkenland has to offer, and the highest graphical mode looks substantially better and has an almost non-consequential effect on FPS, with the lowest and highest settings having almost identical FPS when in crowded areas, and less than 10FPS different when exploring less populated locals.
For an early access title, Sunkenland performs very well, and I rarely see dips below 80FPS when playing at 1080P at the highest settings.
Sunkenland looks and feels like a single-player/cooperative version of early Rust, and while NPC attempts to raid the player base can be easily mitagrated, Sunkenland does a good job of stimulating player vs player base raids.
In addition, players have ample opportunity to raid enemy bases. With very few exceptions, these are rather challenging until players find the sweet spot on every enemy island that causes NPCs to glitch out and stop attacking the player.
Sunkeland is in early access, so glitches are to be expected. Still, the glitches make playing Sunkenland very frustrating, with two of the worst offenders listed below.
While this is not the “end of the world”, facing unbeatable foes in any game is not fun, and in a game like Sunkenland, where resources are scarce, it can be rage-inducing.
Survival games live and die by the strength of their community, and the Vector3 Studio’s near-total lack of interest in adding support for dedicated servers will come back to haunt them.
Players like to be able to jump online and work on their shared base, not coordinate schedules, and wait until their “designated hoster” gets online so they can continue to explore the world they are invested in.
To make matters worse, due to a total lack of cloud saves, players are not only dependent on the hosting player to be online to play but depend on them for the safety of their save game in general, meaning that one costly mistake by the host would cost all players the entity of their progress.
In addition, the lack of dedicated servers means players must either play solo or join a random server that could go offline at any time, making their progress with it.
Sunkenland’s UI is one of the most bland and generic user interfaces I have ever encountered, and upon seeing it for the first time, I was hit by a wave of deja vu, having seen it dozens of times before in various other low-budget Unity titles.
While a generic UI is not the end of the world, it’s little things like a good UI that help to make a game look good and show the developers are well invested, something that a Unity asset store UI fails to accomplish.
While Sunkeland is not an asset flip, it appears to be almost entirely built from Unity Store assets, which has resulted in wrongful accusations of theft, when in reality, Sunkenland and the other games in question are using the same assets, not due to foul play but rather they all purchased the same assets from the same sellers on the Unity Asset Store.
Sunkenland has a very bare-bones character customisation system that is essentially the ability to choose gender and slightly customise the default model with an almost laughably small selection of skin tones and hairstyles.
Is it better than nothing? Sure, but only just.
While the generic undies worn by the female player model are pretty standard for 2023, the amount of sexy clothes scattered through the game is rather strange, with heeled stripper boots and black leather corsets in abundance.
In addition, players can find NEON signs of nude women to decorate their bases, and surprisingly, these signs show a fair deal of “naughty bits”, including bare breasts, nipples and an abundance of bare behind.
I know “sex sells”, but including such tacky items does nothing but make Sunkeland appear to be a game aimed more at hormonal teenagers than mature adults, in addition to the problems that introducing sexual images can have on certain individuals.
While I feel no “lust” looking at naked neon ladies on a screen, some might, and for those people, I suggest giving Sunkenland a miss if you feel it would lead you into temptation.
While players can invade NPC-controlled islands, as of September 2023, they cannot claim the island, nor do enemies respawn, two things the developers have indicated that they would like to address in future updates.
Recently, I witnessed my armour being shredded by a single shotgun blast, only to see the same armour take multiple shotgun blasts straight to the chest without more than a point of damage.
While this could be dismissed as different weapons being used, that is not the case, and both examples are based upon the same armour, being attacked by the same class of enemy carrying the same weapon; all in all very confusing and rather disappointing for a game even at this stage of development.
While on the subject of damage, sharks are also prone to dishing out varying degrees of damage, ranging from near-fatal attacks that shred even high-end gear to almost laughably low damage that injures the player less than a drop from a small rock or two-unit high wall.
If Sunkenland launched a decade ago, it would have a real chance of becoming a very successful title; however, with so many bigger and better titles having long ago surpassed Sunkeland, it will be many years before Sunkenland with its small team of developers comes close to matching the launch state of titles such as Rust, let alone catching up with the latest builds.
Defeating a high-end enemy and claiming their gear for your own is very rewarding; unfortunately, Sunkenland does not allow this, and instead, players who are short on ammo and wielding 1800s weapons will be forced to leave behind the military-grade backpack and a modern assault rifle that their fallen foe left behind, and instead claim the can of soda, piece of ripped cloth and maybe a few bullets that Sunkeland feels is a decent reward for going toe to toe with a fully armed and vicious post-apocalyptic marine.
Looting aside, the amount of resources given by most nodes is laughably bad, with players being required to harvest multiple tires to gather enough rubble to make a grip for their rifle and scrap multiple cars for enough metal to craft a pickaxe head.
It seems the Sunkenland developers believe that only one chicken breast or small fish can be cooked at a time on a family-sized grill or industrial cooker, something which is laughable considering the average player will need to eat multiple of each item each in-game day to keep hunger at bay.
Food aside, players are forced to craft ingots one at a time, requiring players to hover around the forge like nervous first-time parents.
Sunkeland has one of the most comically broken physic engines I have ever encountered, making it possible to quadruple jump, push a motorboat at around 100 miles per hour, capsize a sailboat with a single touch, and most impressively, climb a nearly 180-degree cliff by bunny hopping straight up the side.
Amusingly, NPCs lack the full effect of these accidental abilities. Because of this, it’s possible to reach and build upon areas that NPCs will struggle to reach as they climb over each other in an attempt to besiege your cliff-top dwelling.
While I have many issues with Sunkenland, being able to explore the flooded ruins of modern society is a lot of fun, and honestly, I had no idea how much I wanted a well-made and content-heavy post-apocalyptic Water World-esque survival game until I played Sunkenland.
Unfortunately, this feeling of excitement was tempered by the knowledge that Sunkeland itself was unlikely ever to become that game,
Sunkenland is currently in active development, and the developers have laid out a fairly ambitious yet rather vague roadmap for its time in Early Access, which, while being heavy on promises, offers little substantial content and, unfortunately, comes across more like “We hope to do something cool with this feature or system”, rather than a concrete list of things they know that they will be able to offer players.
As of September 2023, Sunkenland peaks at around 10k players each weekday and around 11.5k during weekends and holidays; however, this number is expected to rapidly drop off as players begin to rapidly run out of things to do while awaiting further content drops and the endless mode promised by developers.
Sunkenland offers the following matchmaking options:
The following peripherals are officially supported:
Sunkenland is unrated and contains the following:
Sunkenland is a good game in principle, and there is a lot to like about it, which is likely why it has done so well in the weeks following its successful launch into Steam early access.
However, there is so much glaringly wrong with it at an intrinsic level that even the most well-intentioned and dedicated developers would have trouble addressing its many issues before community goodwill evaporates and the funding required to ensure continued development runs dry.
While there is plenty of content for the price and fun to be had, Sunkenland’s future is all but written in stone.
Unless the developer starts putting greater emphasis on player feedback and lets go of their own “perfect vision” for the game, Sunkenland will become just another Steam Early Access failure within the next 18 months, and Vector3 Studio itself will cease to exist, despite the team moving on to other projects, likely under another studio name, to avoid tarnishing their next project with the less than stellar reputation of Sunkenland.
Do I think the developers will react to player feedback and instigate much-needed changes to Sunkenland in time to avoid this fate? Sadly, no, I do not.
That being said, I would caution against people calling them scammers, misplaced confidence can be deadly, but it is not intrinsically a sign of foul play.
In short, While Vector3 Studio are not scammers, they are overly confident and unprepared for what is to come, and Sunkenland will continue to suffer because of it.