Far: Lone Sails

2020, Jul 19    

I picked this game up on Nintendo Switch after The Computer Game Show recommended it a year or two ago, and it took a while, but I finally got round to it. It’s a short game, 2-3 hours or so, and it’s pretty simple. It is described as an “exploration adventure” game, which is definitely true, but it doesn’t tell you what makes it special - Far: Lone Sails is a game that manages to be about exploration when you can only move in one direction.

The core of the gameplay is piloting a huge vehicle which you achieve by pushing various switches. The catch is, you’re just one person, and the switches are all far apart, so you have to run around inside the vehicle pushing and pulling as fast as you can. It is reminiscent of Lovers In A Dangerous Spacetime, but not as complicated, and I really enjoyed the loop of keeping the engine stoked and turning. You always feel busy when you’re working inside your machine, and it manages to quickly feel like home. Every now and then you come across something which blocks your path, and you have to deal with it by getting out and solving some kind of puzzle.

The game looks absolutely beautiful, and the sound matches the whole feeling of it incredibly well. You do feel very alone while you play, and the places where you stop always feel weirdly abandoned and empty. The environment that you work through is lovely, and I really enjoyed every aspect of that. There’s a story in the landscape and you’re encouraged to figure it out for yourself.

The problem is, all this great stuff didn’t quite make a complete game for me - the gameplay never steps up, the puzzles never get harder, and ultimately when you can’t do anything but move forward, the whole thing feels a little limited. I’m not sure this is a complaint: it’s a short game, it held my attention for a few hours just fine - I guess I just want a little bit more. It stops short of being something really excellent.