For those who played the 2019 puzzle adventure title FAR: Lone Sails, there will be few to find criticism in what they experienced. Although brief, there was an element of incredible beauty and innocence to the whole adventure. Fast forward to 2022 and Swiss developers Okomotive is back at it once more, this time with the sequel to the aforementioned adventure. This is what you can expect from FAR: Changing Tides.
Instead of a host of introductions, explanations or even a backstory, FAR: Changing Tides once more places emphasis and focus on what you can see in the moment. Like its predecessor, there is no dialogue within the game and instead, you are left to simply get on with the task at hand. This time around that task has changed a little and your time with FAR: Changing Tides will see you begin by moving through a submerged and seemingly empty city, searching for survivors and climbing over the all that remains before the bigger task at hand is found. This task being a ship, steampunk in design, that you must first put together before setting sail in an attempt to find out what is going on or to explore what remains.
The gameplay plays out from a 2.5D perspective, with much of the game’s progression happening through the completion of various puzzles. Our protagonist will complete most puzzles via the use of hooks, switches, pulley systems, connecting items together and so on with all manner of interactive means capable of bringing a conclusion to the puzzle you find yourself dealing with. None of the puzzles within the game are particularly difficult and most of the time simple trial and error for a couple of minutes are enough to get the cogs turning and figure out exactly what you’re supposed to be doing, which for a game that doesn’t divulge into the idea of handholding or talking, I’d say that’s not too much of a long wait to progress.
Much of the game sees you and your ship come together as companions of sorts with no other life to interact with, but you can get off your trusted vessel, and explore certain areas should you need to, but make no mistakes your ship is integral to the game. As you explore into buildings structural walls become see-through momentarily, allowing you to wander through without any visual issues. The same happens also when moving into other parts of your ship to ensure you still have a visual of what is going on around you. Which is a lifesaver as many of your actions when you are finally free of the dock and travelling through waters will be to move around your ship to maintain and manage the various things including the likes of the engine room and the boiler, which is necessary to keep things moving.
Other actions include things such as diving into the waters to gather treasures and fuel from the seabed or jumping off your ship and onto obstacles to clear a path to ensure your vessel can move forward, with later story developments seeing you also required to remove underwater blockages once your ship has taken on newfound functions.
Whilst none of these actions sound overly exciting or refreshing, the way FAR: Changing Tides presents its gameplay mean that this doesn’t matter. The joy here comes from the near meditative experience you get from the game, as with no real threats or opportunity for death, there are no reasons to do anything beyond enjoying the artistic values of the game.
This is made easier by just how beautiful the game is too, as everything you see appears to have been given fine attention to detail and a level of polish that is all too rare in gaming recently; from the compelling vistas to the rippling waters, and the eerie yet peaceful emptiness to the world, this is an adventure that just shines through with its environmental design.
Another positive to this game and yet another reason this adventure is quite so delightful is the absolutely stunning soundtrack, which had me sold from the off due to the fact it pretty much feels like this was a game created around the soundtrack rather than one that has added it in later. It’s not something that is going to blow your headphones off your head and demand you listen to every second, but it instead fits the game so well that without it we’d probably be finding it feeling incredibly incomplete – that’s quite an achievement in itself.
Overall, whilst FAR: Changing Tides will feel little more than a simple puzzle adventure game to anyone who doesn’t enjoy a peaceful adventure from time to time, those who played FAR: Lone Sails will find a perfect companion to the previous adventure that matches the same aesthetics and beautiful gameplay from start to finish.
Whilst it can occasionally become a little confusing, there is nothing here that should deter you from jumping in and if you have the patience to sit through not only will you find something a little unexpected but you’ll also find yourself playing one of the most enjoyable adventures this year.Become a Patron!
This game was reviewed based on Xbox S|X review code, using an Xbox S|X console. All of the opinions and insights here are subject to that version. Game provided by publisher.