JETT: The Far Shore + Given Time Review – Drown Me

    Title: JETT: The Far Shore + Given Time
    Developer: Pine Scented
    Release Date: January 31, 2023
    Reviewed On: PC
    Publisher: Superbrothers
    Genre: Adventure

JETT: The Far Shore was released in 2021 to some lukewarm reception. Plagued by various issues but bolstered by a seemingly enjoyable story, developer Superbrothers has created an expansion to hopefully remedy the critiques and allow the story to be fully realized. This expansion comes as a free update to the PlayStation and Epic Games Store versions and is also being released on Steam as Jett: The Far Shore + Given Time. Unfortunately, I played the new Steam version, and I feel my experience might have been worse as a result.

Throughout Jett: The Far Shore, you play as Mei, a pilot of the titular Jett, who explores a mostly-ocean planet in search of a new home for her people. The opening scenes are loaded with terminology that can be fairly difficult to fully understand. Still, the basis of the plot is straightforward enough. Mei follows a mysterious force called the Hymnwave as she explores the flora and fauna of the planet, eventually coming into contact with something called The Wyld.

I would love to provide a more concise summary of the story. However, I was unable to play through the base game, as suggested. This is entirely due to a game-breaking glitch I encountered in the first chapter, causing an enemy to become untouchable and completely rip control of the Jett away from me. I attempted this segment five times, but the result was always the same, eventually wearing me down significantly.

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Granted, the gameplay I did get to experience before the glitch was enjoyable yet clunky. The majority of it occurs aboard your Jett, letting you fly around various locales on the planet. You have a boost, a quick-turn, multiple forms of concussive blasts, and a collection of tools such as a grappling hook and a scanner. The scanner is your most important tool, as it lets you study various aspects of the world, and as you study them, you can learn how some objects interact with others.

This functionality is vital because, even though you are flying a plane, the experience is largely puzzle-based, asking you to interact with the environment in several ways to witness new events or proceed across the planet. To allow for both flight and exploration, your Jett has two modes. You can turn your scramjets on to slow you to a hover but allow you to take your time to explore anything around you or hide from aggressors.

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JETT is at its best when you are in wide-open spaces, where you can simply boost along and enjoy the speed. The issues, which are minor but constant, begin with momentum and control. It’s difficult to explain; even though you’re in a plane, you cannot control your Z-axis freely. You can use a mechanic called “pop” to jump, yet this cannot be done consecutively or in the air. The Jett is perpetually fighting to return to a neutral altitude, meaning scaling cliffs can be challenging.

This is compounded by your momentum, which weighs heavily on your ability to move at all. The slightest inclines rip your speed away and trying to jump under these conditions throws you down the hill instead of up. There are several means to increase your jump height using the environment, though they aren’t everywhere, meaning that you have to follow a path instead of carving your own.

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Speed is an issue because it only has two options. In the standard flight mode, you can boost, though whether you are boosting or not doesn’t really affect your control. Your hover mode, however, fully stops you, and you use the boost button to instead inch across the landscape. Plus, there is no middle speed. In flight mode, you do not stop unless you run into something, so the increased speed means decreased control and precision. Alternatively, hover gives more control but forces you to crawl across the reasonably large world.

Some facets are clearly designed with this in mind, yet there are many that aren’t, causing frustration with the movement more often than not. Add the strange camera angles and the tank-like controls of your craft, and you have an experience that feels fun in wide-open, straight spaces and awkward in tight, vertical, or just crowded areas. Further, the camera itself is cumbersom, either being incredibly zoomed out in some places or way too close in others. This also makes the tank-like controls a bit more unwieldy, by extension.

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The Given Time campaign grants nearly total freedom with exploration, giving you the task of solving micro-puzzles in the environment to collect Brine Wisps. Collecting them all is the main objective, with every handful unlocking more of the narrative. These puzzles can be as simple as throwing a rock at another rock or chasing down some wildlife to make them drop the wisps. There is no real urgency in getting them, letting you explore at your leisure.

Time does pass, however, so knowing where camping spots reside is very important to avoid the constant damage of nighttime. Playing through this campaign, there were fewer glitches in general, though I did have the camera detach from the Jett a few times, causing me to reload the game. A few of the tasks to collect the wisps were also sometimes repetitive, also being quite tedious or just plain demanding, solely due to the nature of the camera and the controls.

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JETT: The Far Shore + Given Time is a beautiful experience on the surface. The overall design is simplistic but uses explosive colors and a beautiful soundtrack. The story has rich lore, and the exploration of the planet is fun. Additionally, it’s enjoyable to scan and study how the surroundings can interact with each other.

Unfortunately, this is sadly brought down by glitches and unwieldy controls, causing frustration and ultimately ruining the experience by breaking the game and preventing progression. Having only played the Steam version, I can’t exactly recommend this game. Still, the console version may run better, so it’s worth researching if you’re interested.

A review copy of the title was provided by the publisher for review purposes

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