FAR: Lone Sails Review – Now You’re Cooking With Steam!
FAR: Lone Sails
It’s fair to say that in FAR: Lone Sails, it’s more about the journey rather than the destination.
With that said, you’re given very little detail as to what is actually going on.
Your character begins the game seemingly paying tribute to a grave under a tree. As you start your journey, you soon stumble across an odd-looking steam engine.
Without a second thought, you jump in, fire up the burners, and begin your pilgrimage through a desolate, arid, possibly post-apocalyptic wasteland.
You must do whatever it takes to keep your vessel going, all the while you follow the trail of your missing civilization. How far will you get? What will you find when you get there?
The Lone Ranger
Right away you’ll notice just how striking the visual style is in FAR. A kind of cell-shading with much more texture and depth, thanks to a stunning watercolor painting effect.
The Swiss studio Okomotive seem to have done the impossible. By using a fairly drab and dreary colour palette, yet still being able to convey lots of details.
You really get the sense of being in some kind of dead wasteland, as you cross a dried-out sea, passing ruins and wrecks as you go.
Things become even more ominous when the sun goes down, plunging you in almost complete darkness until you can only see parts of your engine that are dimly lit.
As you fight against the elements and various obstacles throughout your voyage, you’ll notice small hints of civilization in the foreground.
These can range from everyday objects such as a piano, to cave painting style illustrations on rocks. It’s hard not to feel some kind of emotional connection to such ordinary objects, given the gravitas of the situation you are in.
Do The Locomotion
FAR is one part Pilgrimage Simulator (yep I’m coining that term!), one part of resource management and one part puzzler, all wrapped up in an awesomely atmospheric single-player experience.
The resource management part comes in the form of keeping your newly acquired steam vessel running.
At first, this is merely a case of hitting the engine button to accelerate, then hitting the pressure release button to prevent overheating. However, on your mission, you come across various upgrades that bolt directly onto your vehicle.
Herein is where the puzzle elements come in. Often, you’ll have to overcome puzzles as a means to progress. For instance, negotiating some tricky terrain or moving an obstruction from your course.
Puzzles are also incorporated to unlock said upgrades. These puzzles aren’t too difficult, usually involving moving things, hitting buttons in order or pushing/pulling things. They never outstayed their welcome, though it is a nice inclusion.
My personal favourite is the Vacuum attachment that goes on the very back. Very handy for hoovering up all those lovely water boxes, which you’ll need to keep your tank full.
But by far the most crucial of these modifications are the Sails. The sails are incredibly vital later in the game. It means you’re not necessarily required to use steam the whole time.
Look closer and you’ll notice a strategically placed flag on the front of your engine. As soon as you see it flying, you can take to the sails and save yourself some precious fuel.
Purring Like A Kitten
Soon after booting up FAR, you’ll notice a distinct lack of narrative, written or spoken language, from start to finish.
Fear not, however, as items of interest will have a vivid hue to them (usually red).
For example, all the buttons and controls of the locomotive are coloured red. As well, anything you can grab or interact with will be similarly painted.
It is possible to damage an outright wreck your cruiser, so take it easy out their engineer!
You can keep tabs on the condition of the vessel by checking the collection of red bars on the right.
Each of these bars is represented by a particular symbol, this symbol will correspond with a certain part of the engine. If it accrues too much damage, it’ll begin to malfunction or catch fire. You must take action and get fixing before it explodes!
If this all sounds daunting, or you’re not really into resource management games, then worry not as it all becomes second nature very quickly. Not to mention your foreboding trek and curiosity urging you ever forward.
As like most of the game, the sound design is noticeably downplayed, yet cleverly nuanced.
At first, you’ll only hear the wind blowing or seagulls overhead. Until that is, you take your first steps into the barren landscape.
From here, the soundtrack only goes from strength to strength. Changing from slow, melancholy scores, to chugging locomotion beats once you get rolling.
Quite often, once you reach a point of interest, a garage, for example, you’ll be treated to some pleasant 1940’s/50’s style music, giving the game more of a steampunk feel.
It’s truly wonderful how the soundtrack can adapt to so many situations. An example of this is when the sun went down and the rain came in. But this was no ordinary rain, no it was golf ball-sized hailstones!
As I sat there, dumbfounded by what I was witnessing, unsure of what to do, my craft got absolutely battered by the treacherous torrent.
It was then that I noticed how fast I was accumulating damage, soon to be accompanied by some genuinely horrific jagged string instruments, gradually building to a heart-pounding crescendo, as more and more of my machine caught fire.
But as shaken up as I was from my ordeal, once I overcame it, I felt even more encouraged to press on. It’s stand out moments like this in games that truly set it apart from the rest.
FAR: Lone Sails for me was a masterpiece in every respect. The painterly visuals, the sorrowful soundtrack, the simplistic controls and almost complete lack of direction and hand-holding all brought the game together.
I was able to complete the game in one sitting (around 3 hours or so), but that was mostly down to just how intrigued and engrossed with the story I was.
With that said, at $14.99USD or £13.49GBP, I can see some people taking issue with this price for what is otherwise a very short game.
That being said, I’m from the camp that believes in quality or quantity and believe me, this is a quality product. It looks fantastic, sounds great and everything ran smoothly with no issues.
It’s been a while since I’ve been so hopelessly engrossed in a game, that I’ve had to stop playing, only to, ya know, eat and keep myself alive!
Because of this, I can’t recommend it enough. Well done Okomotive.
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Reviewed by Micramanic on the Nintendo Switch. Review copy provided by Mixtvision