As the old saying goes, it’s about the journey not the destination and Far: Lone Sails hammers that home hard.
Set in a vague post-catastrophic-event, our vague protagonist buries a vague relation and must make their way vaguely East in their steam powered landship. Along the way you’ll find crates and barrels that can be used as fuel as well as toys and trinkets from a better time that can also be used as fuel. Occasionally you’ll reach some blockade that forces you to get out of your ship and work through its usually straightforward puzzle.
You’d be forgiven for thinking that that sounds pretty boring. Far: Lone Sails may involve constantly moving right but to do so you must work the throttle, vent the building steam, fuel the engines, keep an eye out for supplies (zoom in or you’ll miss them), and upcoming dangers (zoom out of you won’t see them in time) which creates a fine balancing act that thankfully never felt overwhelming.
For the vast majority of the game you’ll be scuttering around your vessel, doing your best to keep it running smoothly, snatching moments when you can to appreciate the beautiful world passing by. And while there’s no dialogue or any real explanation of anything in Far: Lone Sails, the world is so well crafted and the game so well paced that I felt like I had been on a journey myself. Days turn to night as you pass gorgeous vistas and awesome sights. Great shipwrecks decorate the dry coastline beside ruined towns and empty wilderness. But I won’t spoil anything, if you want to see the amazing sights, you’ll have to go there yourself.
Over the course of the story you’ll unlock new attachments for the ship like the namesake sails which add to the wonderfully unique design of the vessel and helps when fuel runs low (and when fuel runs really low, you can get out and pull so keep an eye out for those barrels!). And interestingly, following the design principle of less is more, the developer, Okomotive, have tailored the experience so every aspect of the ship is used over the course of the journey. Like winching a counterweight into position or operating a water wheel with the hose. It doesn’t sound like much, but from a design point of view it’s great to see a limited scope inspire creativity.
The world is presented in artistically muted tones with long stretches fading into near monochrome as you pass through snowfields littered with black wreckage only to emerge into verdant green in other sections. Light and darkness, joy and sadness, wilderness and ruin, the world of Far: Lone Sails is one of contrasts and for a first time developer, heck even for a veteran dev, Okomotive have done wonderfully.
Of course, a game like this wouldn’t be complete without a great soundtrack and Far: Lone Sails doesn’t disappoint with a soundtrack reminiscent of Gareth Coker’s work on Ori and the Blind Forest. The tracks are somber yet hopeful and absolutely beautiful and fitting with what Okomotive aimed for.
If you haven’t already got it, go get it now. In my humble opinion, Far: Lone Sails is in the same gold inlaid box of beautiful journey games as Journey and Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons.