May 18, 2018
A lonely and desperate journey through a beautifully bleak world. FAR: Lone Sails has you set sail across vast open lands on a ship that constantly requires attention and management. Are you able to defy all odds and pilot your vehicle solo to the very end?
FAR: Lone Sails is an incredibly beautiful and intriguing experience. The game is a 2D side-scroller where you are required to cover vast distances alone, with the aid of a frail ship that perpetually requires upkeep. You move around the ship and the outside world, engage in light platforming and puzzle solving, and eventually make your way to the end of the game.
The game is a lonely and melancholic experience. The world around you is desolate, empty or abandoned and you’re but a tiny entity occupying a much larger space. The chips are stacked against you and it constantly feels like everything that could go wrong, does go wrong. FAR: Lone Sails is a game about the journey. It’s a game that wants you to feel overwhelmed with the long and bumpy path ahead as you constantly run out of fuel, hit a roadblock, or put out literal fires in your ship.
The game is legitimately gorgeous and the subtle simplicity of the world, the music, and the plot makes for an impactful experience. It’s one of those experiences that is hard to describe because it is more about the atmosphere and the emotion than anything tangible. The game manages to suggest a lot without saying much, letting the player fill in blanks with their own imagination and draw their own conclusions as to what is going on, what kind of world we are occupying, and what the player character is looking to achieve. You don’t know where you are going or what is happening around you, you just know that you need to keep moving.
Movement within the game comes in two forms. You have your character’s movement but also the movement of the ship which you spend a large portion of your play time on board. Piloting the ship requires a lot of constant attention and micromanagement. Turning items into fuel, releasing the build up of steam, raising and lowering the sails, turning on the suction to pick up new items as you pass over them, putting out fires, repairing damages, and continuing to power the engine. It’s basically a fun little minigame that continues to get harder and harder the deeper you go in to the game and the more mechanics that slowly open up. Piloting your ship is a super interesting way to keep the game progressing but also keep the player engaged, because there is always something that requires your attention.
When you’re not piloting your ship it’s probably because you’ve reached a roadblock. There are multiple sections of the game where you’ll need to jump out of your ship and engage in some light puzzle solving and platforming in order to continue progression. This eventually became a staple of the game and something I’d suggest the developer relied on a bit too heavily. It started to become very predictable and perhaps there was an over-reliance on that core gameplay loop of pilot ship > hit roadblock > exit ship > minor puzzle segment > pilot ship.
Whilst it may have become predictable, these sections of the game also served as a change of pace. Piloting the ship itself was quite enjoyable but I could certainly see it becoming tiresome after long stretches of time. The idea of running around like a mad man and constantly managing your ship could begin to feel like a chore if you were to engage in it for too long.
Thankfully the game only clocked in at about 3 hours long which was the perfect time frame for me. Any longer and FAR: Lone Sails would have begun to overstay its welcome, but instead the developers understood when to pull back. In it’s current state the game is the kind of thing you could tackle in a single sitting and I really appreciate that. It allows the full emotion of the game to be felt without any breaks that may detract from the atmosphere or mood. There was one moment in particular that inspired awe and convinced me that the game was able to be something special. By the time you reach the end, the game had felt like such a journey full of highs and lows that the full impact of the situation was able to be felt.
Whilst the game was undeniably an enjoyable experience I think the developers may have missed an opportunity to hit some of those high points earlier in the experience or change the gameplay up significantly. Unfortunately FAR: Lone Sails could certainly be viewed as one-note and even dull for those who are looking for a more fast paced experience. Although for every action-seeking gamer there is somebody like myself who is happy to take things slowly, engage within the world, enjoy the subtlety and uniqueness, and appreciate the game for what it is offering.
- Beautifully subtle graphics
- An atmospheric and lonely experience
- Managing your vehicle turns into a fun minigame
- A story that lets the player fill in the blanks
- Could be perceived as slow or boring by more action-oriented gamers
- An opportunity to change up the game wasn't taken
FAR: Lone Sails is exactly my type of game. It’s artful, emotive, and it’s unique enough to stand out from any game that came before it. The experience isn’t flawless but it paces itself well to deliver an atmospheric journey. This won’t be the type of game that will appeal to everybody, but those of us who don’t mind a slower approach will find a lot to enjoy from this intriguing title.