There was something about playing FAR: Lone Sails that really made me feel a sense of emptiness in the pit of my gut. Not in a negative way, just an emotion brought on due to the sheer isolation that you feel throughout, coupled by the games largely monochrome art direction and how well the game utilises the sense of scale to make you feel so very small.
FAR: Lone Sails is a side-scrolling exploration adventure game with resource management elements and minor puzzles too. The game is developed by the Swiss studio Okomotive and feels not only like a rather excellent indie game but also a work of art as well as visually, the game is incredibly pretty. The beautiful biomes that you explore have a very clever use of colour with flashes of reds and blues that stand boldly out against the heavy use of sombre grey tones that scorn the ruined world. The fact you can freely pull the camera outwards to expand the environments, and the huge derelict ships that you come across, help to add a sense of vast scale that truly emphasises just how alone you are in this often barren and harsh post-apocalyptic landscape.
Even the musical score compliments this by being very soft and sparse. For a great deal of the game you won’t even hear any music, just the engine and mechanical sounds of your vehicle. But when the piano and strings get in full swing, it’s very upbeat and helps to add to the sense that you’re on an adventure.
Much like two of my personal favourite games, Journey and Gris, the story in FAR: Lone Sails is left intentionally vague and there is no narration. It’s the drive of exploration that motivates the player to seek out on their voyage to find something, maybe even another soul to share a conversation with?
The opening to the game sets a rather depressing tone where you are at the burial site of your father outside of your family home. It begs the question, what has happened to your family? Was there a great pandemic that has killed a vast proportion of the population and thus the deterioration of the world? Now it’s just you, a child, all alone. It makes that opening moment of the game even more powerful as I can only imagine that you are saying your final goodbyes before setting off on a journey of hope rather than succumbing to stay in your home, haunted by those that you have lost.
What sets FAR: Lone Sails apart from other side-scrolling platform puzzlers is the way you traverse the world. Yes, there are some walking and jumping through parts of the environments, mainly to overcome barriers that block your path, but largely you will travel through the use of your battered land-ship referred to as the Okomotive – a nice nod to the developer. The Okomotive, much like the remnants of buildings and vehicles you come across on your travels, seems to come from a technically-advanced civilisation from a bygone era. It’s not in great shape and this is where the resource mechanics of the game comes in to play. The developers really succeed in making you feel a personal bond to your land-ship, it’s your new home that you need to protect and give it the proper care and attention for it to not to break down, leaving you completing vulnerable.
You’ll come across boxes and barrels that can be thrown into the furnace to fuel the Okomotive to make it move. Once chugging along nicely, you have to keep an eye on the pressure gage and excel steam to ensure that it doesn’t catch on fire, and in doing so, it also gives the vehicle a welcome boost in speed. As you progress you find a few new modules to add to the Okomotive, such as a sail, which is very handy as it helps you drift along and save on fuel, and a vacuum that sucks up resources instead of you have to manually stop the vehicle and collect. Both of these yet add a further layer to have to manage. Never does this system of maintaining your land-ship feel tedious.
Initially, you might be worried that you won’t find the adequate resources to keep moving, this actually doesn’t ever materialise as there are always enough resources that you come across, even if it means using some of the lovely little trinkets you find along the way.
Maybe limiting these resources more would have added a welcome challenge to the game which it is most definitely devoid of. Players looking for to be tested may be sadly disappointed as even the puzzle sections are incredibly simplistic. My only other slight gripe is that as the game builds momentum, after a couple of hours, it abruptly ends. The conclusion is ultimately satisfying but it just feels like there should have been a little more game included.
For trophy hunters, there are 14 to collect ranging from simply following the story to more specific ones such as keeping the post box at the start of the game with you throughout your journey and rushing to the ending within 99 minutes. Unfortunately, there is no Platinum trophy and sadly this meant that I had no real urgency to replay the game or take greater care in ensuring that I met the goal to unlock a specific trophy. This, of course, didn’t affect my enjoyment of FAR: Lone Sails but it might alienate those players not willing to pay for a relatively short game and not get a Platinum trophy out of it.
FAR: Lone Sails created a sense of isolation unlike I’ve ever felt before from a game. It’s visually stunning and moulds resource management and exploration in a fun and unique way with having to operate your land-ship to traverse the beautiful, yet bleak world. It might be a tad on the short side but as a whole, the game is extremely satisfying and a pleasure to play.
FAR: Lone Sails£11.99
- - Incredible depiction of isolation
- - Beautiful art direction and post-apocalyptic environment
- - Simple game mechanics and interesting traversal of the world
- - A complimentary and moving soundtrack
- - Game ends too abruptly
- - Very limited challenge to the game
- - No Platinum trophy