Review – Far: Lone Sails

Initially, Far: Lone Sails seems like yet another 2D platformer with a dull color palette and a featureless, child protagonist. You follow what little instructions are given to guide your character to a hulking mass of steel covered in debris. That’s where the similarities to games like Limbo and Gris end. Taking control of your two-wheeled land-ship, you set out on a vague, but visually astounding journey across an ever-changing landscape. Far: Lone Sails is the first game from Swiss indie developer Okomotive. Originally released in 2017, it is now getting a PS4 and Xbox One release, set for April 2, 2019.

A friendship is born.

Despite its familiar style, it quickly gets past what it shares with other indie titles and opens into its unique gameplay. With no tutorial, you are left to figure out how to power up and operate the different parts of your ship by leaping about the inside of the hull and jumping on various buttons. Learning how to fuel your ship and rolling out past destroyed boats across a dried out ocean, is liberating. To keep the ship moving you struggle against your equipment breaking down by putting out the fires and taking a blowtorch to the damaged parts.

Of course, you’ve also got to make sure the engine stays powered up by burning the scrap gathered from outside. It’s in these moments where you have to leave the safety of your ship to walk across the world that the camera pans out. You begin to see just how vast and empty the world is. The lack of any signs of life (excluding the odd cow or seagull) adds to the feeling of isolation that the game is trying to create. On your travels, you must solve puzzles to get upgrades or move obstacles. Most of which involve heading out into the ruins and finding some buttons to press.

Even in the apocalypse, renewable energy is important.

You could be forgiven for missing some barrels of fuel when you are distracted by the beautiful, but ravaged world. Though simple, the art style perfectly represents the atmosphere this game is trying to build.  Every scene gives a new emotion, from the hopeful green fields bursting with life to the broken, grey remains of cities. As you work the engines you are able to see a cross section of the ship, showing everything working. Drawn in a steampunk style with torn up sails and wooden interior, it fits well in this post-apocalyptic setting. The backgrounds seamlessly merge together, helping to build a picture of what this land once was and leaving you to wonder, what happened to it?

Going full speed into walls isn’t recommended.

The unique mechanic of keeping the ship operational is fun and original, but there are only a handful of buttons to press and as a result, it gets repetitive pretty quickly. The only real challenges come from racing the weather or gathering fuel, neither of which are particularly difficult. Fortunately, as the game only takes a few hours to complete, you don’t get many chances to grow bored before it’s over. With such a short story and no dialogue, it’s impressive the way you naturally form an emotional attachment to the ship. By realizing how much you need it, you begin to form a bond and actually care about what happens to it.

The puzzles do little to break up the game with most being as simple as pressing a button or two. Even without any clear story or goal, the game still keeps you engaged through its use of art and music. The need to see what is going to unfold next is enough to overcome the repetitiveness of the gameplay.

End of the day at the end of the world.

Far: Lone Sails is a visually and atmospherically stunning game with original and intuitive gameplay. Every part of it captures the feeling of being alone in a desolate world. Though not very long and not much of a challenge, it proves to be much more than a standard 2D scroller.

 

Graphics: 8.5

The art is subtle, while still impactful. From the range of landscapes to the interior of the ship, everything is illustrated beautifully and flows together. 

Gameplay: 7.5

Getting the hang of the ship and keeping it running is great and original. Due to the mechanics being fairly simple, it gets old before too long. Puzzles were a nice distraction, but simple and easily completed. 

Sound: 8.5

The score was absolutely astounding. Mirroring the atmosphere with minimal yet emotive music. The stellar use of audio throughout pulls you even further in.

Fun Factor: 7.5

The enjoyment from piloting the ship may not last the short length of the game. At the same time, the landscapes and music help to make you feel invested and care about reaching the end.  

Final Verdict: 8.0

Far: Lone Sails is available now on PC, Xbox One, and PS4.

Reviewed on PS4.

A copy of Far: Lone Sails was provided by the publisher.

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