FAR: Changing Tides Review

Far: Changing Tides Header

FAR: Changing Tide a relatively unique game. Sure, it’s a 2.5D puzzle game, but it’s novel in that it tasks you with managing an odd vehicle as you traverse a mysterious world. It’s only relatively unique because that also describes the previous game, FAR: Lone Sails, but this time you’re going to be sailing across water rather than land.

The game’s first impression is very strong, as it looks gorgeous, particularly when the oceans are calm and you can see clearer reflections in the shifting waters. It looks great later on as well, when the seas get stormier, though you’ll usually be a bit too distracted to enjoy the view. Swimming around underwater can also add a little anxiety to the proceedings, specifically due to the very large objects you’ll find scattered below the surface (it’s called megalophobia, in case you were wondering), which really adds to the slightly unnerving and peculiar atmosphere. The music also builds on that atmosphere, a largely stringed soundtrack that swells during bigger moments and hangs back a bit to add into the strange tone as you explore.

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You begin the game with some swimming, which crucially does not include an oxygen meter, allowing you take your time and/or not panic whenever you need to take a dip. The way that Changing Tides introduces mechanics that it’ll use later is subtly clever, as you’ll use a few that you’ll be dealing with a lot once you find your ship a short while into the game.

FAR Changing Tides Sail Boat

This ship is multifuctional, but you start with just a sail. When you’re on board your ship you’re not going to be pressing a button on your controller to start accelerating, but instead have have to lift up the mast that your sails are attached to, climb up to grab the rope that opens the sails, jump back down to attach it to a hook to keep them open, and finally adjust the sails direction so it’s correctly capturing the wind to push you forward. It’s quite involved and mostly a lot of fun, though I do have one misgiving in that you can’t see far enough ahead due to the side scrolling nature of the game. Even when zoomed out, you aren’t given much time to retract your sails before they crash into a bit of oncoming environment, forcing you to repair them.

Soon you’ll get an engine which works in a similar way. You add fuel, fire it up by jumping on the bellows, and then keep the engine cooled with a hose so it doesn’t overheat and get damaged. It’s just complex enough to feel like you’re running this ship, but not so complex as to feel frustrating. Of course now you need fuel so you’ll need to keep an eye on the sonar for nearby objects to bring on board and burn. There are further upgrades to your ship that you’ll collect on your journey, all slotting into your vessel and cleverly putting twists on mechanics that you’re already using. Part of the fun was discovering what was going to be added to my ship next.

FAR Changing Tides Underwater

As you sail your way across this world you’ll inevitably find puzzles to solve. Some of these are things like clearing obstacles out of the way so you can pass, but others manipulate the environment in ways where the reasoning for what you’re doing isn’t really explained. The game’s story itself is also incredibly vague. There isn’t a spoken word in the whole game, but then again too much explanation could very well have stifled the odd, slightly unsettling atmosphere. Once you find your way into a big storm and you’re battling against the waves, it doesn’t really matter what the overarching story is as you’re simply trying to survive. Still, a little more explanation for why you’re doing some of the other stuff wouldn’t have hurt.

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Summary
FAR: Changing Tides is a mysterious, intriguing game. It builds off the inventive mechanics of managing a ship, the adventure you face taking on a vaguely unsettling tone at times. It's also fairly short – I finished it in about five hours – but that means it also doesn't try and stretch out its ideas until it outstays its welcome. This is an original and artistic game that deserves a little appreciation.
Good
  • Looks great
  • Unique, well-designed ship
  • Lovely soundtrack
  • Very atmospheric
Bad
  • Can't see far enough forward when travelling
  • It's fairly short
  • Story is incredibly vague
8