Thank you so much to Mixtvision for providing a review code
*There is a spoiler warning at the end of the Gameplay section of this review
Great adventures aren’t always told through dialogue, or narration. Sometimes the most emotionally provocative of journeys are told simply through the atmosphere and your surrounding environment. FAR: Lone Sails tries to create a journey out of two subjects, exploration and isolation. Does this journey isolate itself from others in a positive, or negative way? Let’s find out.
FAR’s narrative is very loose and at a first glance it’s really difficult to find any sort of story. You begin with your tiny protagonist kneeling next to a grave, close to what may have been their home. After that you’re sent out to explore the great unknown. Everything is told through exploring what the world has to offer. Across your journey you won’t come across any other characters. You’re truly alone well, except for one other entity.
At the beginning of your journey, you will stumble across a large steam engine type machine. Upon entering it you will learn that this big hunk of metal is your new best friend. With the help of your new travel companion, you venture across FAR’S vast lands. What you’re in search of and what your true goal is, are unknown.
Welcome to Steampunk micromanaging simulator. Jokes aside, much of your journey will take place within your new steam engine friend. FAR is an experience about seeing the world. The world you happen to see here is void of life, nevertheless it’s interesting to see
In order to keep your machine moving you’re going to have to take the time to run around the inside and manage its parts. Moving the steam engine requires fuel. Fuel is gained from finding objects and placing them in what I assume is the steam engine’s fuel converter. Objects are found on the ground as you travel, so make sure you’re constantly paying attention to the ground below you. If you want to continue on your travel’s you’ll have to spend a fair amount of time stopping, getting out, and grabbing any abandoned objects you see.
Fueling your steam engine’s just the first task at hand that you’ll have to take part in. As the steam engine consumes fuel, steam will start to build up in the engine. This pressure’s released by pressing a button above the steam meter. Almost everything inside the steam engine is controlled with a button and has a meter attached to it. None of these tasks are difficult, but they’re absolutely crucial unless you want to break down in the middle of nowhere’s. Although micromanaging sounds like a monotonous task, I never felt that was the case here. Actually, I found it quite entertaining, to manage the steam engine and assure it was always running at full capacity. It made me form a deep bond with the stack of metal and honestly, made me forget I was alone.
As you adventure farther into FAR’s desolate world you’ll start to come across upgrades for the steam engine. The upgrades help to increase the efficiency of your management of the steam engine. For example, not too far into your journey you get to add sails to the top of the steam engine. The sails allow the steam engine to move itself without the need of fuel. As long as there’s some wind, and you’re not in a tight space the wind can take you where you need to go.
There’s more upgrades that come along, such as a welder to fix any parts of the ship that break, and a vacuum on the back of the ship that sucks up anything on the ground and brings it right into the ship. I was a big fan of the vacuum add-on, as it alleviated the need for me to run outside the ship and collect every single object lying on the ground. Adding additional upgrades to the steam engine was a fantastic idea, and really gave the feeling that the steam engine was “growing up” during your adventure. I know it’s not a living object, but after 3 1/2 hours of it being just me and the steam engine, he really grew on me.
Luckily, for those who don’t like the idea of always being stuck inside the steam engine there are times where you will be forced to venture into the great outdoors. Besides picking up objects, sometimes you’re going to have to solve puzzles to get through obstacles. There’s more than a handful of times where your movement will be halted by a gate or maybe even a giant propeller. When an event like this transpires it’s up to you to solve the issue.
The puzzles, for the most part are quite simplistic. Most of the time the puzzles require you to jump through platforms and press a button, or bring an object to a generator to fuel it. You won’t see anything groundbreaking in relation to the puzzles. They’re simply short and sweet.
In all honestly really nothing about FAR’s journey is difficult, or stressful. It’s a relatively calming journey with a constant, looming feeling of solitude. Usually, this would create an unsettling atmosphere, but FAR chooses not to do that. There are some more somber parts to FAR, however, this is a journey of self-reflection. I really took my time with FAR as a time, to reflect on my own life. This is very much an experience, for those who want to be alone with their thoughts.
I think FAR’s journey really resonated with me at the very end. After spending such a long with your steam engine pal, your journey comes to an abrupt end. In the distance a volcano explodes and molten rock comes flying towards you. At the end you’re left unscathed thanks to your metal shield, but the steam engine has given its life for you. Split down the middle only one part of your steam engine is movable. You try to pull it with you in hopes of saving it, but it’s no use. You come to a torch, light it and what may or may not be a smoke signal starts to form. Night falls on you and you’re once whole friend and the game ends.
FAR uses a minimalist visual style that works really well with the game’s isolated atmosphere. Every object was designed with great detail and look really well crafted. The environments use a mostly dull color palette, but this choice of color further adds to the game’s lonely setting. The soundtrack is really well done and the best track is the one that plays when you’re travelling in the steam engine. The track that plays is a very upbeat adventurous tune that I absolutely adored. For the past week that tune plays in my head every time I’m driving to work, or to the mall. It’s definitely one of the best uses of music I’ve seen in recent memory.
Luckily, I had no issue with FAR during the entirety of my playthrough.
Now that it’s finished, I can honestly say that FAR’s journey has truly become a memorable one. Somehow, with its cold and isolated tone there was still a lot of heart in this adventure. Travelling along with my steam engine never got old and I could continue doing it for a long time to come. The puzzles are fairly simple, and it’s a pretty short game, but it’s definitely worth playing for the experience it gives you. I can recommend FAR: Lone Sails to almost any player.