Xbox One, PS4, PC, Nintendo Switch, PS5, Xbox Series X
March 1, 2022
FAR: Changing Tides opens in a surprisingly intimidating way for a game that’s often so relaxing and tranquil. You, as a tiny protagonist with no name, are thrown into a large body of water with debris laying all around you. It takes you a while to get to your ship, the vessel that will carry you throughout the game’s deserted world. These solitary vibes are similar to Okomotive’s previous 2018 title that is from the same universe, FAR: Lone Sails. Both are atmospheric side-scrollers that focus on a character who mans a machine through a space where they are a solo explorer, their only friend is their machine and the environment that surrounds them. However, FAR: Changing Tides includes a new vehicle type and the world is a lot more complex, showing that the devs have worked on beefing up the franchise’s formula. What they have developed is a stunning looking, atmospheric adventure title that packs a few surprises throughout, even if it felt too minimalistic at times.
After the protagonist is submerged in what looks like the after-effects of a tsunami, you swim your way to a standard ship with a simple sail and set off on your journey. FAR: Changing Tides is a game that has no real plot, the main focus is advancing forward and dealing with obstacles in your path. You can move forward via swimming in a special dive suit that your character automatically finds themselves in as soon as they hit the water, or by piloting your ship. The camera sticks to one side-on angle, though you can zoom out at times to see what is closely ahead of you. This fixated camera angle can cause problems, obscuring vision as foreground objects block your line of sight and low-hanging structures that can’t be seen until it’s too late cause damage to your ship’s sails.
This wouldn’t be so annoying if these encounters didn’t lead to your ship becoming damaged. These damages happen regularly and can occur through collisions or even from overuse. To perform maintenance on these sections, you need to find a special held item that when brought to a damaged part of the ship will restore it to its previous shape. The majority of the gameplay takes place on water; therefore your ship being in tip-top shape is imperative. It is your lifeline, the object that keeps you safe and mobile throughout the game’s world.
The world of FAR: Changing Tides, though beautiful, can be bare at times. There are long stretches of ocean that I jumped out of the ship to explore but its depths didn’t provide anything remarkable. Debris is common in the waters beneath, but in way of exploration, all I usually found were rusty chains and beams. Some items found at the bottom of the ocean were vital in fuelling my ship’s engine once I got the furnace upgrade. These waterlogged scraps range from white packages tied with brown string, bolts, plants, and toy carousels. The latter I didn’t have the heart to use as fuel, though I also wasn’t sure what else I should do with it.
The game’s exclusion of a HUD is a missed opportunity to include information about these found objects. Though it does work in with its simplistic gameplay, the items found weren’t discussed at all. It would have been nice to know exactly what these objects were and whether or not I should be throwing them into the flames to aid my ship’s movement or if they had other uses. Even a bit of lore about these items would have added to the game’s lack of narrative.
What the game doesn’t lack however is atmosphere, especially when it comes to the interactions you will have with your ship. Everything is perfectly put into place and has an accompanying sound that makes your interaction with said item that much more satisfying. It does add to the chill vibes of the game, with clicks and whooshes of mechanisms within the ship transporting me back to my childhood and playing with my beloved Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles sewer set. Like that plastic playset, every moving part on the ship moved and felt different in its own special way. The colour scheme also adds to these relaxing feels and is a combination of earthy tones; rusty browns, sea greens, and sandy yellows. These colours whirl around you in the shape of the obstacles you encounter, such as buildings, buoys and wreckage of past vehicles that have succumbed.
When your ship encounters these environmental obstructions, you cannot continue on your journey until you figure out a way to get through. This is where the puzzle-platforming elements of the game come into play, as you leave your ship and figure out how to pass the obstacle. Some of these obstacles may be huge looming manmade structures that hint at the world before. The lack of humans isn’t an issue in the title, but the lack of any sort of narrative or objective other than freeing your ship from obstacles tends to lean towards repetetive gameplay, which is disappointing for a title that is so gorgeous to interact with.
- Beautiful art style that makes a desolate world intriguing
- The way things click together so effectively is extremely satisfying
- A tranquil and peaceful atmospheric adventure
- The camera can obscure vision and cause frustration
- The world lacked opportunities for exploration and was bare for long stretches
- Opportunities for narrative and lore weren't taken
FAR: Changing Tides is a stunning atmospheric adventure that makes you feel the ups and downs of sailing through a world that has been destroyed by unknown reasons. It excels at making you feel a connection to your vessel as it develops into something bigger, faster, and stronger throughout your time with it. However, opportunities for a deeper narrative and more rewarding exploration weren’t taken, so this intriguing world never felt fully realised. The tranquil atmosphere and art of FAR: Changing Tides is superb, it’s just a shame the somewhat repetitive gameplay loop wasn’t able to match those same standards.