How FAR can it sail?

Title: FAR: Lone Sails
Platform: PlayStation 4, Xbox One (reviewed), PC
Developer: Okomotive
Publisher: Mixtvision
Price:  £12/$15 (across all platforms)
Release date: Out now
TL;DR: Atmosphere and beauty are aplenty but cleverly hidden if you let them be
Family Focus?: Click here for more information

Explaining what kind of game FAR: Lone Sails is will be a pretty big ask. It’s quite the ask because the description would only bore you or make the game sound like a Limbo imposter. Though the game is far from either and while it might share the same sombre design as Limbo at times, FAR is a game that pushes you on, one that celebrates that pursuit forward with bursts of life, that is, if you’ve got the eyes to see it.

That all sounds a bit mysterious, doesn’t it? Well, it really isn’t; FAR is actually a very simple game is some respects. You wake up one morning, this strange, hooded person, leave your home, and begin journeying forward. After tens of seconds running, you get yourself a great, hulking vehicle that looks as if it’ll make this trip a breeze. Unfortunately, that’s not the case, instead, your ship is a fragile thing, one full of contraptions that you’ll add more to along your journey, and each contraption needs a bit of attention if you hope to make it anywhere in the game.

That’s not to say that FAR is a survival game, it really isn’t. Sure, you need to refuel your ship but you pass more than enough fuel, with the main problem trying not to cage yourself into a crevice of your ship with all the cases of fuel laying here or hanging from there. But the vehicle is – as I said – a fragile thing; you’ll need to put out the occasional fire or repair the odd sparking button but it’ll be refuelling that takes up most of your attention, otherwise your colossal ship won’t be much good,

So yeah, the ship will take up a lot of your focus as you run to and fro, refuelling, putting out fires, and fixing the ol‘ bird. Thankfully, FAR lets you zoom into your little captain, giving you a better view as you tend to your ship. It’s a nice touch, one that help build a slick routine of ship maintenance when I was playing; refuelling the ship with a canister of non-descript energy, pushing down the ignition that sparks the ship awake and begins to rumble forward, before letting the steam build up before releasing it to earn a short-lived burst of speed and stopping the whole engine from overheating, all before doing that all over again.

It’s a wonderfully sly move, this slip into routine. Because the way that FAR’s ship works, its constant need for attention as you stay zoomed in on what’s going on, puts you at risk of missing the vast palette that FAR’s minimalist world offers up. Stop focusing on your ship for a few moments, zoom out, and you’ll see a world that’s bursting with colour, be it the dismal beaches you leave at the start of the journey, the small town you roll through, cattle skipping out of your path at the last moment; volcanoes erupt and casts a rushing path of ash towards you at one point, while other moments have you slowing crashing into a desolate factory, a neon sign reading “We build our future” blinking in and out of life, a welcome dollop of irony.

There’s something wonderfully dismal about FAR’s use of contrast in this respect. It’s game that can be solely about you maintaining your ship if you let it be that, only ever venturing out of the ship to solve one of FAR’s platforming or physics puzzle, usually some obstacle that you need to solve for your ship to pass through, before resuming your routine. It’s a game that contrasts the rumble and chaos of the ship’s interior, as you run around trying to keep everything working before adding more tools to the ship while errant fuel boxes sway back and forth as your vehicle crashes into something, with the eerie calm of an outside world that isn’t just static but is drooping, falling from that once promised future a broken sign promised, seemingly returning itself back to the land.

I’m not sure what kind of audience FAR is looking to cater towards. It’s most definitely a game that’s best served on those rainy Sundays when you find yourself in a meditative state of mind. The simplicity of the game, which essentially is just you moving forwards, save for the excursions you make every now and then. That simplicity FAR offers quickly becomes a layer to the game though, working to hide you away from all the splendour of the natural world. FAR, more than anything is a game where you’ll imprint your own meaning on to it; I was struck by that persistent contrast, in size, sound, and surroundings but you might pick up on another trio of ideas in the game. There’s a subtle power in FAR and it’s that broad interpretation of the game that makes it something that’s well worth your time.

The Good

  • A wonderful design to the game
  • That design is backed up by a lovely musical score
  • The game manages to create a wholly relaxing game despite the rushing around in your ship

The Bad

  • It is very formulaic in some respects. The core gameplay has you travelling for a bit, solving a puzzle, then doing it all again

Family Focus

Pegi: 7 ESRB: “E” for Everybody

FAR is a quiet and beautiful game, full of dreary and vibrant colours alike. And if you want your kids to shut up for a little while, FAR might be able to help in a small way.

Disclaimer: This review is based on a copy of the game provided by PR for the purpose of this review.