Mask of the Rose is a murder mystery with a living victim, and a dating sim where you can stay single

Failbetter Games has been telling delightfully odd stories in Fallen London, its much-lauded browser game, for over a decade, inspiring brilliant spin-offs Sunless Sea and Sunless Skies in the process. But in its latest game, Mask of the Rose, we get to see where it all began. And, as a treat, we can get a date with a devil and solve a murder.

If you’re a stranger to Fallen London, here’s a quick primer: Victorian London has been dragged underground by bats, devils walk the streets, Hell is now its neighbour, death’s not as permanent as it once was and souls are a valuable commodity. It’s a weird, playful, gothic setting that’s sometimes compared to Lovecraft but is really more evocative of the works of Edgar Allan Poe, Terry Pratchett and China Mieville.

Mask of the Rose begins not long after Londoners find themselves underground, giving us our earliest glimpse of the city, and from a new first-person perspective. With all these changes happening, the city’s new, enigmatic masters decide a census must be taken, and you’re the dogsbody for the job. Between gathering up lots of information for your boss, you’ll also have opportunities to embark upon a romantic adventure, as well as clearing the name of your flatmate, Archie, the prime suspect in a murder—one where the victim sprung back to life.

(Image credit: Failbetter Games)

It’s a strange place but, for those new to Fallen London, it also might be a great place to start. “It creates an entry point for entirely new players who might be coming to this universe,” says creative director Emily Short, “because they’re coming into a space where the NPCs don’t already know everything either.”