FAR: Lone Sails is a work of art. Developed by Okomotive and published by Mixtvision, it was released just a couple months ago. It’s a side-scrolling adventure game where you play as this tiny androgynous figure in a raincoat, and your objective is to pilot and maintain your vehicle as you journey through the world — your only enemy being the harsh conditions therein.
Aesthetically, FAR: Lone Sails is instantly gripping. After a couple of brief logos, the screen fades to a grey sky that pans down to an equally grey landscape. There’s a very noticeable lack of color in this game that at first seems bleak in the ruins you explore, but becomes warm and comforting in the natural landscapes. Everything with any color has mostly red tones, and it’s usually things you interact with. This makes it much more obvious to tell what you’re supposed to do, servicing the gameplay greatly. Meanwhile, the art direction is lovely and gives the world its personality. The design for all the technology is very practical in a showy and quirky way, evidenced by long and complicated animations.
The puzzles you encounter are usually in these areas, with the player tinkering with various tools, witnessing all the pieces moving in beautiful clanky harmony. After getting through these old factories, the player is given a delicious taste of the other side of the game’s visuals: the natural world. Under a colorful sky that constantly changes and shows different breathtaking backgrounds, you get the same effect in the plentiful mountains, rain, snow, beaches and even a tiny swamp area.
Everything is enhanced by the dynamic soundtrack. The soundtrack is not always dynamic; sometimes wind and noise set the tone, or there is very soft minimalist droning. Otherwise, when FAR: Lone Sails picks up, whether you’ve just started moving your vehicle, discovered a notable landmark or found yourself battling extreme weather, the music becomes the centerpiece of the experience. Intricate and wonderfully complex melodies play out and die down at just the right moments, feeling like a reward for getting through each obstacle.
Thankfully, getting through obstacles is just as enjoyable. The gameplay is super simple, yet engaging, shown right from when you first start it up. As soon as the FAR logo appears, you press any key and it goes straight to the action. No menus, no tutorials, just the beginning of the experience. FAR: Lone Sails tells you the interaction key and the camera control key then says “go.” Every scenario you find yourself in is just subtle enough for the player to be capable of surveying the area and figuring out the creative ways to escape from whatever rut you’re stuck in.
Controlling your vehicle is repetitious, but feels great when you get into a good rhythm. Keeping your fuel tank full, maintaining your steam level, using your sail and repairing each part of your vessel becomes a bit hectic as you speed through the wasteland. Despite its simplicity, it keeps the player on their toes and never gets boring. The one gripe I had was how tedious it was leaving the vehicle to grab things for fuel, but you can avoid that once you obtain the fan upgrade, which sucks objects right into it. The gratification I felt from that was immense, making the journey that much faster.
The adventure never runs out of steam (pun intended), even during the moments where you’re doing nothing but holding right, sometimes not even doing that and letting the sail take you. You could argue that these sections are without challenge, but with the glorious visuals and music rewarding your efforts, you would be missing an important part of what makes this game such a treat.
Sadly, the game is quite short. My first time through it took me probably four hours, then almost two hours my second time. There’s even an achievement to beat the whole thing in under 99 minutes, but with the incredible art, the visual storytelling and the music, this game is an extremely short but sweet thing of beauty. It’s something you play once or twice yourself, then show to your friends. It’s like a short film, and a very good one at that.
FAR: Lone Sails is great. Its shortness may turn some players away from the $14.99 price tag, and the simplicity of the gameplay may bore people looking for a challenge. The adventure within however is beautiful, engaging and accompanied by a brilliant soundtrack. Recommended to play multiple times and show to friends, and strongly recommended on sale.