Platforming as a gaming genre has continued to evolve ever since its inception back in the early 80s and beyond, with the likes of Super Mario Bros to Sonic the Hedgehog and many more dominating the gaming spectrum.
While gaming has since continued to change to match modern expectations, there are still a few developers who are still honing and perfecting the platforming genre in an ever increasing gaming landscape dominated by 3D focussed games.
Some of these include developer Playdead’s two critically-acclaimed titles of Limbo and Inside, each of which provide a unique and dark take on the platforming genre. However, another game from the genre that recently flew under the radar was Far: Lone Sails.
Released in 2018, this platformer developed by newcomer Swiss development company Okomotive represents the first game that was issued by them, and with the recent release of its spiritual sequel, Far: Changing Tides, I thought it was high time to see what made this hidden gem a captivating journey to experience for players.
Far: Lone Sails is a platforming game that, while offering no significant challenge, still delivers an experience that is worth having, if not only for the journey that players can undergo in the game.
With the main story line being touted as being based on a post-apocalypse setting, one might assume that the gameplay of Far: Lone Sails would revolve around surviving against harsh environment and enemies. However, only one of these two is true for the title.
As many games with the post-apocalyptic setting have enemies that aim to provide a challenge in being an obstacle for players to overcome, Far: Lone Sails does away with this with the gameplay mainly revolving around platforming through various dilapidated buildings and structures to reach certain goals to advance forward.
What sets Far: Lone Sails apart is the vehicle that players use to traverse through a vast landscape. In what can be easily considered as a second character and companion to the player, this vehicle, which looks to be a hybrid of a land and sea transport with large wheels that the large vehicle complex sits on, slowly expands and grows along with the player with certain parts and upgrades being acquired along the journey.
Furthermore, how the player interacts with and operates the vehicle is also intriguing. Being a fan of moving and interacting with large mechanical objects and vehicles with the simple push of a button, the vehicle that the players used are operated through minimal movements of pressing or pushing buttons with a drastic effect on the overall vehicle.
Coupled with being able to traverse the various rooms throughout the vehicle from both its interior and exterior all the while it’s on the move, this makes it an irreplaceable companion that feels alive and in line with the overall environment and atmosphere of the game.
In focussing more on the journey aspect for players, the game does take a more scenic and methodical route, and rather than providing players with challenging platforming and enemies to content with, Far: Lone Sails is far more content with enabling players to appreciate not only the serene and peaceful environment despite being set in a post-apocalyptic setting, with the only challenge being balancing and scrounging materials to be used as fuel for the vehicle, as well as certain weather hazards.
Even the scrounging aspect can also be enjoyable, as players can find various trinkets, which while providing little gameplay benefits, can also be used to decorate and personalise each player’s vehicle to their taste. Another high point of the game is the soundtrack, ranging from soothing to dramatic, depending on the situation and story mood.
From a wide and adventurous symphony that plays as the player rides across the sprawling desert using their sails for the first time, to more sombre and mellow tunes to accompany the pitter-patter of rain as the player huddles within the comfort of their vehicles, the soundtrack helps to set the tone for players to experience the journey across the post-apocalyptic world.
Being a game solely focussed on the journey and story rather than the challenge, Far: Lone Sails is definitely not a game for everyone, especially with the lack of challenge being a put off for many.
But for those looking for a short and surreal journey in experiencing the solace and eerie post-apocalyptic world, Far: Lone Sails is one such game that delivers in spades.