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FAR: Changing Tides Review

FAR: Changing Tides Review

Starting out our FAR: Changing Tides review, it’s worth mentioning this is a follow-up to Swiss-studio Okomotive’s debut, the also gorgeous and imaginative FAR: Lone Sails. While the progenitor tasked you with exploring a dried up seabed, FAR: Changing Tides flips the post-apocalypse on its head — there’s water everywhere! And you have to sail a big clunky ship.

Okomotive had a hit with FAR: Lone Sailscrafting a detached, mournful, yet memorable and visionary experience that isn’t easily forgotten. It’s been a few years since then and it seems the team has been toiling away with this sequel ever since. Does this live up to the breathtaking original? Or does it sink? Read on in our FAR: Changing Tides review.

FAR: Changing Tides
Developer: Okomotive
Publisher: Frontier Foundry
Platforms: Windows PC, Xbox One, Xbox Series X|S (reviewed), Switch, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5
Release Date: March 3, 2022
Players: 1
Price: $19.99 USD

The visuals and overall feel of FAR: Changing Tides come together as a post-apocalyptic, almost mournful yet painterly 2.5D world. Environments are a mix of reductionist architecture, sweeping vistas, industrial mechanisms and ruins, and of course – water, lots and lots of water and aquatic environments.

As I explored the game’s desolate and mysterious world with my young son in real life, my FAR: Changing Tides review started to become more of an experience where we kept wanting to see where our silent little dude goes next.

The imaginative locales and visuals in FAR: Changing Tides are breathtaking, truly a thematic vision for a watery apocalypse. When progressing through my FAR: Changing Tides review, I wanted to really put a focus on how absolutely staggering the environmental effects can be in game.

There are several moments that take you through dangerous storms – complete with heavy winds, rain, lightning and thunder. It’s truly mesmerizing to see your ship crashing through those massive waves.

There’s something both menacing and exciting about traveling through FAR: Changing Tide’s world, because of how gorgeous it looks. It’s not going for photo realism, it’s one of the rare examples of actual “high art” in video games.

All of the little bits come together to paint a truly memorable experience, between its ruined cityscapes, the birds, the fish, and the hints left by a long-lost people. There’s so many details from large scale environments and environmental effects to the smallest critters poking around.

When playing FAR: Changing Tides, you’ll eventually be jumping between environmental puzzles to overall management of the ship.

Gameplay in FAR: Changing Tides is simple and accessible, but it feels wonderful when you get the hang of the multitude of systems in your ship. The core mechanic is the managing your ship as a sailboat – as the winds change you’ll have to adapt your sails to maximize your momentum.

Eventually the player gets more upgrades for the ship, with one of the most important upgrades being the furnace engine, of course. After getting the engine installed, your ship can be fed combustible fuel which you’ll burn in its engine.

You do this by jumping away on the billows to keep feeding air to keep its flame alive. One thing to note is the previous game, FAR: Lone Sails, only had you managing a more simplistic sailing mechanic – so managing the entire ship is something else entirely.

Before you play FAR: Changing Tides you’ll likely be aware that almost the entire game is focused on sailing your ship and managing it along the way. There are bits of puzzles scattered throughout your journey that generally require you to leave the ship and clear some kind of obstacle.

There’s also times when you have to decipher how ancient technology is supposed to run. Lots of the game is focused on industrial designs and nothing is explained directly. The entire experience in FAR: Changing Tides is – once again – quite remarkable and fun.

The simple act of getting your ship ready for sailing requires multiple gameplay mechanics from raising the retractable mast, expanding the main sail and tying it down, and then finally adjusting the main sail to maximize how much wind you’re catching.

FAR: Changing Tides Review

While this was totally fine for me or even my young son to manage, returning fans that wanted a more simplistic time like its predecessor might be daunted a bit. This isn’t a criticism per se, rather an observation this is a much more complex vehicle.

FAR: Changing Tides is a 2.5D game as mentioned, and because of that there are occasional times when you have to avoid obstacles in the world, lest your ship gets damaged. Sometimes it’s not quite clear that your sail will hit something in the background.

Not catching this fast enough will see it go crash into the structure, getting damaged. I think this is unavoidable due to its presentation, but it’s a little annoying at first. After this I became too cautious when I saw any structures, frequently retracting my sails.

Overall though, gameplay in FAR: Changing Tides really is something else – it’s fantastic – as it gives just enough visual cues and environmental designs to keep you going.

Nothing is overtly shown or said in game, you’re just a little boy trying to figure out what is going on in the world. Even the puzzles are entirely built into the environment with visual cues literally built into the environment, it’s fantastic.

The story in FAR: Changing Tides is very similar to its predecessor, you’re dropped into a mysterious, seemingly post-apocalyptic world and there’s no indication of what happened.. nor if there are any other survivors.

FAR: Changing Tides has the kind of visual storytelling lots of games try to aspire to yet fail to properly realize. There’s just enough visual cues to keep you going, yet just enough questions to keep you burning to know more.

Without spoiling anything, as you explore the world of FAR: Changing Tides, you’ll get little hints of what happened to the people of that world. Nothing is directly inferred as mentioned above, but a lot of what could have happened is left up to you, the player.

It’s just the right amount of environmental storytelling that leaves you with a sense of wonder. The only thing is I feel like the experience is so good I simply wanted more, this clocks in at 5 to 6 hours on a normal playthrough.

FAR: Changing Tides Review

If you’re a fan of FAR: Lone Sails and its absolutely masterclass soundtrack, you’ll be happy to hear composer Joel Schoch has returned to do the music for its successor adventure.

When your ship first rolls into the water as the wind pulls at its sails melancholy yet truly beautiful starts pouring out. The game has a mix of very silent portions where all you hear is the environment – wind, water, the noises of your ship.

The calm and mysterious moments when you’re underwater trying to solve the next puzzle or find more fuel are accompanied by equally meditative and introspective like music or environmental sounds.

FAR: Changing Tides Review

Industrial designs and machines whirr and crank with heavy, bulky noises, everything has been looked at from how your water hose (the one in your ship, silly) sounds to how your ship sounds as it smashes through metallic rubble.

The iconic moments when you get stuck in a storm, however, are absolutely fantastic. When FAR: Changing Tides throws a storm at you and the wind, waves, and both thunder and lightning are raging, there’s perfectly crafted music abound.

All of the visuals and music come together in FAR: Changing Tides to really, truly, make you feel like you’re in a fight for your life. When mother nature is throwing everything at your little dude and his clunky ship as that sorrowful music wails on, it’s hard not to get a bit choked up.

FAR: Changing Tides is definitely a direct successor to FAR: Lost Sails and honestly – succeeds it in every possible way. Okomotive have taken the time to build upon what they accomplished in their debut and came out with a truly superior game in FAR: Changing Tides.

I had an enthralling time playing and experiencing an aquatic, post-apocalyptic world in FAR: Changing Tides, and the game shines as an example of true high art in video games. FAR: Changing Tides is a little gem that cannot be missed, it’s a masterfully crafted emotional adventure.

FAR: Changing Tides was reviewed on Xbox Series X using a copy provided by Frontier Foundry. You can find additional information about Niche Gamer’s review/ethics policy here. FAR: Changing Tides is now available across Windows PC (via Steam, Epic Games Store), Xbox One, Xbox Series X|S, Switch, PS4, and PS5.

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The Verdict: 9

The Good

  • Iconic, painterly and gorgeous visuals
  • Brooding and atmospheric post-apocalyptic world
  • Perfectly balanced soundtrack sets the mood
  • Minimalistic storytelling creates a sense of wonder
  • Gameplay is accessible, yet fun and rewarding

The Bad

  • Managing your ship might be daunting to returning fans
  • 2D perspective sometimes makes it difficult to tell if your sails will get hit
  • Might be too short for some

About

Owner and Publisher at Niche Gamer and Nicchiban. Outlaw fighting for a better game industry. Pronouns: Patriarch, Guido, Olive, Catholic