Title: Far: Changing Tides
Release Date: March 1, 2022
Reviewed On: PC
Publisher: Frontier Foundry
I’m a fan of non-traditional games, where the gameplay takes a backseat and instead wants to craft a unique experience. I have learned to seek these titles out, gaining experiences I would have never had before. However, I have been burned far more often than not by doing this, with Far: Changing Tides following suit.
This game follows Toe, who finds themself alone in a flooded world. Seeking shelter, Toe comes across a strange ship and begins to sail, searching for survivors or a place to call home. Unfortunately, it isn’t easy to follow any narrative for Changing Tides. There isn’t any dialogue, and most of the structures found only allow glimpses into the past. So instead, the focus is on small encounters and challenges the player faces while traveling.
Some are incidental, for example, needing to find fuel when you upgrade to an engine or puzzling out how to get your boat through a chokepoint. These decisions emphasize player choice to stop and search for power or continue to find another stop. Instead, I found myself sitting around waiting for my ship to hit something. Sailing is charming and engaging when the journey first begins. However, I quickly grew bored as only slight adjustments are needed once you set sail. Frequently, my attention drifted away from the game and onto other stimuli, only being brought back by hearing my boat crash or fuel run out.
Adding a few story hooks would have done wonders for engagement. For example, instead of having no narrative, Toe could have had some thoughts about what we saw or what he thought about them. Instead, we are left wondering what each structure’s purpose some obvious, some so alien that I wasn’t even sure what it could be. This issue is a shame, as the world offered up is an interesting one to see. Buildings are flooded and knocked over, and mysterious machines littered the land, begging explorers to delve into them.
In many ways, I would have preferred the ability to explore the world entirely, sailing from interest point to interest point instead of being locked to a two-dimensional plane, stifling any exploration. However, the world itself is mysterious, inviting musings of what could have led to the flood and Toe’s place in the world. The atmosphere is the strength of Far, and when it gets going can suck you in. The colors of the aquatic depths are beautiful, and it’s a pleasure to see creatures interact with the world. The issue is that the game would gain so much from allowing the player to interact with the world. I constantly felt like I was taking a tour and couldn’t touch.
The only things you can interact with are the ship itself, where you spend at least seventy-five percent of the game, fuel sources, and puzzle locations. I’ve already spoken about the other two, but the puzzles rarely felt substantial. The vast majority of them involve pushing blocks or finding power sources. The complexity of the puzzles never goes much further than this, and repetition was abundant. Repetition is the fatal flaw that I had on Toe’s journey. Once the initial charm wears off, there isn’t anything substantial to hang onto. The scenery, while beautiful, starts to feel like you have seen it all before after a few hours. The vehicle, while engaging, starts to become automatic and feels like there is too much time between points of interest.
It feels like the developers inserted padding to extend playtime. Sadly, this drags out a compelling experience without much to break up the monotony of it all. I was exhausted by the experience and felt like I had endured a solo adventure across the seas.
Far: Changing Tides offers a unique experience sailing across a drowned world. The world itself is beautiful and can draw you into it with its colors and mystery. Regrettably, the shallow gameplay, no story to speak of, and long periods doing nothing mar an experience that could have been memorable. Nevertheless, there is something here for those who want a calming adventure with little action. Sadly, I can’t see myself ever coming back to revisit this drowned world.
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