HIGH It’s a lonely, soulful experience that stands out.
LOW Repeating the volcano segment ripped me out of the experience.
WTF How did the long-gone mechanics know I’d pass right by here?
Mike Suskie first reviewed Far: Lone Sails in January, and I can only say that I agree with every point he raised. However, the game recently became available on Xbox One and PS4, and I think it’s well worth highlighting again.
This small-scale tale of a lone traveler making their way across an evaporated ocean floor is a wonderful example of elegant design, both in gameplay and narrative.
Making the core of play about maintaining the vehicle that carries the player along is wonderfully simple, and its care is a reliable source of comfort – it never felt onerous or like drudgery. No, caring for the machine is a physical method of creating of symbiosis between two characters — one human, one machine — without a single word being spoken between them.
This relationship is reinforced by the simple act of traveling. Some of my favorite moments in Far were when the wind picked up, I shut down the engine and let the breeze carry us along. Watching the landscape pass by while doing nothing other than moving forward was amazing.
I was also taken with Far’s environmental storytelling, and the narrative in general. While there’s no dialogue or any expository cutscenes, little clues in the world tell a tale that’s heartbreaking on at least two levels – the first about surviving an ecological disaster, and the second about sailing alone in a craft that was meant to be piloted by two.
Like Mike observed, some of the challenges felt a little too convenient to be completely believable, but they were still logical and clever in execution, and often made me think just a little bit outside the box. They also gave me exactly the right amount of stuff to do. More, and Far would have been too busy. Less, and there wouldn’t be enough substance to the journey – as it stands, it achieves an incredibly delicate balance between contemplative moments and actively working to solve problems, and that’s no mean feat.
Far: Lone Sails is a wonderfully lonely trek that will take the player from one end of a dry ocean to the other, and it’s the rare sort of experience that says a lot without ever saying a thing.
Disclosures: This game is developed by Okomotive and published by Mixtvision. It is currently available on PC, PS4 and XBO. This copy of the game was obtained via paid download and reviewed on the PS4. Approximately four hours of play were devoted to the single-player mode, and the game was completed. There are no multiplayer modes.
Parents: According to the ESRB, this game is rated Everyone and has no descriptors. There are a few moments of peril, but that’s it. It’s perfectly suitable for children.
Colorblind Modes: There are no colorblind modes available in the options.
Deaf & Hard of Hearing Gamers: There is no dialogue, written or spoken, but a few subtle narrative beats are communicated through sound. Audio cues don’t affect the game’s playability in any way that I could discern, but I worry that players who are hard of hearing may not get the entire picture. Of special note is the ending, in which there’s a significant event that is only signaled via audio — it’s easily missed without hearing and changes the final scene entirely.
Remappable Controls: No, this game’s controls are not remappable. There is no control diagram. The left stick moves, X is used to jump and Square lifts objects, while R2 and L2 are used to zoom the camera in and out.