FAR: Lone Sails

released on May 17, 2018

FAR: Lone Sails is a vehicle adventure game. The player needs to maintain and upgrade their unique vessel to traverse a dried-out sea, with the remains of a decaying civilization scattered out on the seabed. Keep your unique vessel going, overcome numerous obstacles and withstand the hazardous weather conditions.

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Score: 78/100
Story: N/A
Gameplay: 5/10
The gameplay concept isn't bad it just gets repetitive. It's just maintenance on your ship and puzzles every now and then. If it wasn't for the great moments this game had, I probably would've got really bored.
Graphics: 8/10
Technical stuff alone, it's alright. The set pieces on the other hand are spectacular. Whether it's sailing past huge abandoned cargo ships or the ending 15 minutes which I won't spoil, it all is just breathtaking.
Artstyle/Direction: 10/10
This game just had me in awe almost from start to finish. Especially in the moments where it's just you and your ship sailing in a beautiful open area.
Soundtrack: 9/10
Speaking of those moments where it's just you and your ship, that is when the soundtrack really picks up. You are accompanied by soaring music that fits the mood perfectly. The music always comes in at the right time whether you are trying to sail away from imminent danger or just cruising around the world and it made the ending 15 minutes one of the most amazing video game moments ever.
Sound design: 6/10
It does the job.
Extras: N/A
Overall fun factor: 9/10
Even though it's short, this is one of the most breathtaking video games I have ever played. I recommend FAR lone sails to anyone wanting to have a short chilled-out experience.

When it comes to the indie market, I’ve found that labors of love are often the toughest titles to review. While most games, of course, have some degree of zeal put into them, there exists a particular subset whose very foundation is a clear homage to prior releases: that is, these developers were so enthralled by those games, they were inspired to create their own art in honor of them- a spiritual successor if you will. The problem that tends to arise is an over-focusing on one aspect of the product they’re admiring, in turn resulting in their own version lacking fulfillment. By removing multiple cogs from the machine, they’ve fundamentally misunderstood what made their luminary work.
This is the case with Far: Lone Sails, an exploration game from the company Okomotive evidently crafted in tribute to such indie darlings as Limbo and Journey. The premise is you’re piloting a rig aptly named the Okomotive as you make an unspecified odyssey to an unspecified location for unspecified reasons, and as you can probably surmise from my deliberate repetition, the issues begin with the sheer amount of anonymity thrown at you. Minus a few genre exceptions like sandboxes, video games should always contain some level of direction due to guidance being the connecting tissue between player motivation and world interaction- if I don’t know why I’m doing what I’m doing or what I’m supposed to be doing, then there’s little incentive to pursue onwards, especially in a title with little gameplay (more on that later).
Dialogue-less games rely on environmental storytelling in lieu of explicit instructions, but you’re still given a basic understanding of what the overarching objective is: in Limbo, it was rescuing your sister, and while I haven’t played Journey as of the writing of this review, the intent seems to be reaching a distant mountain. With Lone Sails, there is no such counsel; you’re provided a vehicle that only travels sideways, you don’t meet anyone else, and so you can’t help but wonder why you’re doing this: it’s one thing to want to unrestrict player ambition; it’s borderline lazy to not scribe any notion of what is happening. And you guys need to understand that even simple stories can go a long way towards impelling players when other facets of the game falter- heck, walking simulators have built a foundation exploiting this truth. Lone Sails isn’t mundane just because it has no semblance of a narrative, but because its supplementary assets are lackluster as well, beginning with the barren wasteland. It makes up a large part of the vistas you encounter, and I cannot stress enough just how bland it is. As a side-scroller without enemies, backdrops were the one feature that should’ve been ornamented with lush details, yet outside of the occasional derelict ship or scrapheap, you’re mostly gazing at generic stars, skylines, and cloud brumes. One section has you passing farmland, and at least there you get some diversity with bison and houses, but it’s over as soon as it begins and you’re back to standard schlock. Not once did I ever feel like my eyes were feasting on a grimly-alluring post-apocalyptic landscape, which dampered any exploratory initiatives.
Luckily, these scenes are rendered in a pleasant graphical style, hearkening back to Baroque artists like Claude Lorrain, and as an overall package, Lone Sails doubles down on that stylized realism, aiming for an aesthetic I have honestly not seen anywhere else. The best way I can describe it is if Inside met steampunk, and even then that’s not fully accurate given the penciled-in 3D models and protagonist who looks like Little Red Riding Hood if she was in the Journey universe. Accompanying this imagery is a lot of nice animation work, from the elegant billowing of said heroine’s (hero’s?) cloak to the splash of water from the Okomotive entering & exiting an aquatic body. On that note, the Okomotive, as a whole, deserves its own isolated praise as this baby is a thing of beauty: a ferric reject that brings to mind other Victorian jalopies like Howl’s moving castle or Honaka’s Tank from The Girl with the Blue Eye. Its exterior assemblage of rusted metal and protrusions is more than matched by an interior containing shifty gears, cramped quarters, and pressure instruments. The amount of time that went into its construction must have been extensive, and the results more than speak for themselves.
That said, there were some shortcuts taken: no tire tracks are left behind by the vehicle, fire spots resemble boring Oblivion spells, the same combustion effect occurs regardless of the material you burn, and the hoisting/lowering motion for the mast is a bit clunky. But these are relatively small amidst the splendour, and I can’t deny there’s something inherently appealing about piloting your own box car in a mysterious world- I feel like that’s one of those fantasies every male gamer dreamed of as a little boy.
It’s a dang shame then that you’ll end up hating the wagon considering how much of a pain in the ss it is to operate. Almost everything about Lone Sail’s gameplay involves some tedious maintenance of this machination, as though the developers thought taking a page out of Chibi-Robo was the right idea for a diversified loop. It drains fuel faster than the batteries in Outlast 2, forcing you to constantly feed it junk just to keep moving; steam builds up, requiring manual releasing; fires erupt that need to be hosed down; and components spontaneously break, necessitating prolonged exposure to a blowtorch. It’s insipid and downright taxing at times, particularly during scripted sequences where the Okomotive is assailed by Mother Nature and covets continuous repairs one-after-the-other. I MIGHT have been able to overlook this monotony were the systems at least ergonomic, but no, the devs have gone out of their way to deliberately make things unnecessarily laborious. Igniting the motor, for example, means pressing the button for an annoyingly long SEVEN SECONDS, and even then it constantly needs to be reinserted because the stupid thing slowly retracts out- why not have its stickiness be contingent on your fuel supply? And rather than have all the ship’s floors reachable by jump, a stupid elevator has been thrown in that must’ve been designed by Droopy since it's incapable of stopping on any floors till it reaches its top destination, rendering it utterly useless for transferring cargo. Speaking of cargo, scavenging somehow manages to be the worst aspect of the bunch- as stated before, you utilize an incinerator to generate power for the Okomotive, but in order to gather material, you have to leave the vehicle, pick up the boxes/barrels (one at a time!), and put them into the hatch. It might seem simple, but you’ll oftentimes see canisters during transit and have to backtrack some distance because your car is incapable of insta-stopping, and if the Okomotive halts on top of the stuff, you’re unable to head under the vessel from the front due to the dumb ramp permanently staying closed until you start driving again.
I know it seems like I’m btching considering these are ultimately minor drawbacks, and to be fair alleviants do exist for a couple of them (your sail propels you in lieu of your turbine so long as you’re out of the doldrums, and halfway through the game you get a vacuum that sucks in debris, negating the need to depart the vehicle), but the key word there is couple, and regardless, the bigger issue is the way everything coalesces with everything else that turns the whole shebang into a distracting figure more vexing than satisfying. And I emphasize distracting because when you’re standing on top of your vessel, peering at the sights as the wind flurries about you, it can be a surprisingly serene moment….until some issue arises that dragoons you back indoors.
Besides upkeep, you’ll semi-frequently encounter obstacles impeding your progress; things like stationary debris or closed gates that require entering the adjacent facility to resolve. It comes down to rudimentary puzzles that are as banal as they are short, and represents yet another example of a company over-focusing on crafting “an experience” instead of, you know, a video game. I get the sense that Okomotive intended these places to be where you garner the backstory to their world, but given that I didn’t care for anything in general due to the aforementioned lack of impetus, it doesn’t really matter.
What also doesn’t really matter is the sound production, which is pretty mediocre. On the plus side the Okomotive, on its own, runs relatively crisp, evoking the type of industrial grit you’d expect from such a contraption: steam blows proud, acceleration bursts accordingly, and wheels grind-on. Unfortunately, it’s hampered by the other sources around it. The first thing I noticed was unsynchronized treading for the Protagonist’s steps (it appears fine when running, but walk and you’ll instantly catch it). There are also no jumping dins, and footmarks don’t vary unless you amble in water. When you’re assailed by inclement weather, it never feels like you’re in the eye of a storm courtesy of haphazard droplet splashes, and the same crash noise has been copy/pasted for every metallic barrier you slam into. I also don’t recall any particular resonance to the wind, though I acknowledge it could’ve been drowned out by the music.
On that subject, the music is unfortunately very hit-or-miss. I feel like composer Joel Schoch was dealing with bizarre directions from Okomotive as to what the OST should be at key moments, and it results in some jarring shifts. When the game is centered around a sense of adventure, the music is terrifically blissful, but come time to drive through, say, an agrarian vestige or bayou and you’re greeted with cliched southern tunes that are discordant to the ears. During the last act, you get enveloped by a final monsoon, and I swear the track Schoch chose to accompany it resembled that blare the Bikini Bottom Super Band emitted when Squidward asked them all to simultaneously play as loud as they could (for reference: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PkDO1lDNpCk).
In the end, though, it wouldn’t have mattered if the score was a masterpiece because the title is just not worth your time. Far: Lone Sails has a decent atmosphere and beautiful visuals, but those can’t overcome its deficits in every other facet that is important for a video game.

Um joguinho diferente pra quebrar o gelo de outros jogos. Extremamente atmosférico e intuitivo, sem dizer uma única palavra para ensinar a jogar. Com narração completamente visual, devaneia sobre natureza e solidão com primazia. Uma ótima experiência de 3 horas.

Very fun little game, at the same time that it is relaxing it still manages to create "tense" situations, so it never gets boring, good game!

A really great tiny indie that I'm glad got a sequel that I hope to play soon. Playing in handheld mode on the Switch isn't ideal; a good bit of visual detail gets lost. I'm strongly considering re-playing on PC to give its visuals another look.
I wish some of the controls were tighter. Moving and jumping are a bit awkward, making it easy to knock around fuel tanks inside the ship or accidentally hit buttons I didn't mean to hit. I was hoping for a little more challenge in the vehicle mechanics, but they're still engaging and not over-simplified.
This has some of the quiet charm of other side-scroller puzzle-platform indies like Limbo or Inside, but it certainly has its own appeal.

Though ostensibly a game about piloting and maintaining a massive, whale-shaped land crawler, FAR: Lone Sails in actuality has more in common with atmospheric platformers like Limbo. The scenery is majestic, the controls are simple, and the puzzle mechanics are straightforward. Most puzzle solutions became immediately apparent as soon as I uncovered all the pieces.
But this isn’t a game you play for the puzzles. It’s more about the vibes. You spend most of the game scurrying about your vehicle, hitting buttons to gather fuel, feed the engine, and hoist the sails. You cruise through monochrome wastelands, the bluish light emitted by your engine providing the only respite from the grey, and bulldoze through abandoned factories, wondering but never knowing what the dilapidated machinery once manufactured. What happened to this world? Why are you traveling through it alone? These questions are never explicitly answered. Perhaps it’s better that way.
My biggest complaints are that the camera is a bit fiddly – I always felt like I was either too far or too close to the action. Also, managing the vehicle is perhaps a bit too simple. In a game this short, however, these grievances are easy to forgive. My three hours spent immersed in the world of FAR were three hours well spent.