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Review

FAR: Lone Sails (Switch eShop) Review

by August 19, 2019

FAR: Lone Sails is one of the most beautiful, artistic sidescrollers I’ve played in recent years. In a decade that’s seen the likes of Limbo and Inside, FAR: Lone Sails presents an adventure filled with vibrant imagery set against a post-apocalyptic backdrop.

The game starts without any real context behind the state of its world, but tragedy and hope are clear themes. It starts in a bleak scene void of any colour other than the character’s bright red garbs, with them standing at a grave by a dilapidated tree. The main objective is to continue travelling to the right, much like those aforementioned titles. However, the means of achieving this is set apart by commandeering a motorised land ship.

In order to commandeer the ship, the player needs to manage various aspects of its operation: igniting the engine, balancing fuel consumption, responding to fire hazards, reparations, and more. It may sound tedious, but the way this is done – by filling the ship with platforms and jumping in/onto various switches – is very fluid and dynamic. What I appreciate about this is how it feels like you’re a one-person crew frantically trying to keep the ship running, rather than hitting drive and waiting for something to happen.

Throughout the journey, the ship receives all sorts of upgrades like sails and a vacuum, which come just in time to change up the speed of travel or rectify having to manually jump out and collect fuel. I loved how the game paces these quality-of-life changes just before things feel too familiar.

FAR: Lone Sails has a wonderfully appealing visual style which really catches the eye. Most environments and landscapes look drab and dire – in the best way. Only the important things have colour, like the red character, orange switches or blue fuel. Everything seems very deliberate, and anything in the background that does provide colour really pops and is a pleasant surprise. Adding to this is a (scripted) day/night cycle, which again, looks great.

What really drew me in, though, was the bleakness of the world. The player traverses a post-apocalyptic wasteland, filled with ruins of homes, junkyards and other signs of a past civilisation. There’s no dialogue to convey the story; rather, the dire state of the world is denoted by how lifelessness, but the hints you discover draw you towards salvation. It’s been a while since a game has really stuck with me like this, and I would be remiss if I don’t attribute its impact on me to the music, which was often sparse but prominent when it plays.

As enjoyable a time this game is, there are some hurdles. A few times throughout the 3-hour adventure I hit moments where it was unclear what was needed. The ship itself has flashing hints to point you towards a required mechanic, but some environments requiring puzzle-platforming aren’t always easy to navigate. Perhaps a hint button or delayed “hey, maybe check this thing out” function would have sufficed in nudging me in the right direction sooner. That said, these weren’t enough to detract much from the experience (once I worked them out).

FAR: Lone Sails is one of those special games that do so much with the small amount of time it asks for. Completing it in one or two sittings feels entirely achievable, and has just enough depth to its gameplay to feel engaging without being bothersome. The experience it delivers is a wholesome jaunt through the end of the world that put a smile on my face and warmth in my heart.

Rating: 4.5/5

The Good

- Wonderful visual style
- Good management mechanics
- Great pacing of upgrades and environments

The Bad

- Some objectives were a bit unclear
- The post-apocalyptic experience fell short of a real “message” or narrative impact

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FAR: Lone Sails is one of those special games that does so much with the small amount of time it asks for. Completing it in one or two sittings feels entirely achievable, and has just enough depth to its gameplay to feel engaging without being bothersome. The experience it delivers is a wholesome jaunt through the end of the world that put a smile on my face and warmth in my heart.

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Angelo Valdivia

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