Mask Of The Rose Is A Romantic Visual Novel Set In, Uh, Fallen London

Mask Of The Rose Is A Romantic Visual Novel Set In, Uh, Fallen London
Dibs on the shadowy cloaked figure! (Screenshot: Failbetter Games)

Failbetter Games introduced players to the Fallen London universe, in which the English capital has been transported underground by mysterious forces, through an eponymous browser game and gothic survival sequels Sunless Sea and Sunless Skies. But the studio’s next project aims to be a more intimate take on the Unterzee.

Mask of the Rose is a romantic visual novel set just a few months after Queen Victoria made a pact with a group of alien space bats to bring her husband back to life (this is real lore, look it up), and turned Regular London into Fallen London. As such, players will be given the opportunity to witness as the city contends with this terrible predicament first-hand — while also courting its more eligible denizens, of course.

“If you’re a fan of the Fallen London universe, Mask of the Rose offers a glimpse of events we’ve never shown before, as part of a more personal story,” Failbetter’s official announcement reads. “You will get to explore the origins of beloved characters and institutions, as well as encounter brand new mysteries. Mask of the Rose is also an excellent introduction for players just getting started with the Fallen London universe.”

Failbetter plans to launch a Kickstarter to fund Mask of the Rose’s development in February 2021. Sunless Sea was pretty dang successful by the studio’s own estimation, but the relatively poor sales of Sunless Skies resulted in the small team laying off four employees in 2017. Kotaku has contacted Failbetter for more details on the necessity of Kickstarter to get this new game out the door.

In any case, Mask of the Rose feels like a wild departure from Sunless Sea and Sunless Skies. While those previous games included romantic elements, they were survival games at heart rather than full-fledged visual novels. I’m very interested in seeing what the folks at Failbetter have in store as they set their sights on a brand new genre.


  • I mean, I was on board from the headline alone, but yes. This is very much yes.

    Also, I didn’t realize Sunless Skies sold worse than Sea. That’s a shame, since it’s a much, much better game! 🙁

    • I’d been playing the original browser game since before it was known as Fallen London (the original name escapes me) on and off, and Sunless Seas put me off Sunless Skies, so there is that. (Also heralded taking another break from the main game)

      I’m curious, since the game is set shortly after the fall, if this’ll cover the origin of the Mask of the Rose festival, which is their annual Valentines Day event in the core game.

      • Before Fallen London it was Echo Bazaar. 🙂 And yeah, same.

        The traversal and combat was actually much better in the original Sunless Seas builds, during Early Access, before they turned it into something arcade-like. Prior to that it had been a turn-based affair, which I imagine suits the sensibilities of the franchise’s avid readers.

        What was it about Seas that put you off? It was definitely a less forgiving game than Skies, which made death less frequent and less punishing, and had more Quality of Life improvements. Regardless of how much I prefer Skies as a Game, I love the soundtrack of Seas. It really was perfect for capturing the feel of the different factions we’d only read about in the browser game.

        • There was something to the mix of it that didn’t quite gel for me? There were definite sweet tastes of the writing and feel of Fallen London (and yes, Echo Bazaar!) but the gameplay loop didn’t keep me enthralled. I’d set out, do a few things and then end up losing interest.

          I have a similar problem with Darkest Dungeon. Pushes all my buttons but I can’t keep playing it more than a few hours before dropping it again.

Show more comments

Log in to comment on this story!