FAR: Changing Tides is the sophomore release from Okomotive, a small indie studio from Switzerland that had previously released FAR: Lone Sails. The title is an effective sequel to its predecessor, which was released in 2018; however it stands alone sufficiently in its experience that you can easily pick it up and play without ever having touched Lone Sails. For those who have played Lone Sails, many of Changing Tides' mechanics may seem familiar.
The game released on March 1, 2022, and is available on both Xbox Game Pass and PC Game Pass. It is not a play anywhere title, so your save will not carry between the two versions. If you were looking to jump between the two seamlessly, that can be a bit unfortunate.
FAR: Changing Tides
Bottom line: FAR: Changing Tides is the follow-up to FAR: Lone Sails, following a little boy named Toe as he leaves his home in a makeshift boat after an unseen apocalyptic event. There is no dialogue or combat, leaving all of FAR's storytelling to be interpreted by the player as they solve puzzles to overcome obstacles on their travels.
- Play at your own pace without fail states or missing collectibles
- Exceptional dynamic audio and soundtrack
- Solid puzzles
- Story feels vague
Disclaimer: This review was made possible by a review code provided by Frontier Foundry. The company did not see the contents of the review before publishing.
FAR: Changing Tides: What's good
FAR: Changing Tides starts with players taking control of a tiny young boy named Toe following a mysterious apocalyptic event. Toe — whose name was only ever revealed in marketing materials and not the game itself — sets off from what we could assume was his home aboard a massive cobbled together boat that he will need to navigate across the now-flooded land. Players will need to manage their boat's sails and scavenge resources to keep things moving.
|Category||FAR: Changing Tides|
|Title||FAR: Changing Tides|
|Xbox version||Xbox Series X|S, PC|
|Play time||9 hours|
|Xbox Game Pass||Yes|
While FAR: Changing Tides does not have any combat, players will be left to fight with the boat and the environment if they want to progress. If you have your sails wide open as you pass a cliff, for example, you can expect them to take damage that will leave you unable to control them until repaired.
After a few moments of peaceful sailing and garnering context clues for the story from the background, you'll eventually bump into some sort of obstacle that will block Toe and the boat's path forward. However, there's no need for obtuse puzzle solutions here. Objects that can be interacted with stand out with their bright cyan color that is easy to see even in the murky water. The game is forgiving when it requires you to line the boat up with an area, taking control to automatically position your vessel so long as you get close enough.
FAR: Changing Tides' lack of fail states makes it easy to just immerse yourself into the experience. While the game is visually striking, despite its muted color palette, the real winner is Changing Tides' audio and sound engineering. The game's soundtrack is custom tailored to the player's experience, changing dynamically to reflect the action on screen. The music changes and sounds become noticeably muffled whenever the player is swimming or the boat, once the submarine upgrade unlocks the ability, dives below the surface, for example.
FAR: Changing Tides: What's not so good
If you're looking for an epic narrative adventure that is going to bombard you with details about every event in the game's history, you might be expecting more than what FAR: Changing Tides has to offer. The game is decidedly sparse on detail, with a vague narrative told without any dialogue or context. Even the main character's name, as previously mentioned, is only released through the game's marketing and is never once mentioned during your playthrough. The hows and whys of this world are intentionally vague.
The barebones nature of the storytelling further drives home the loneliness of FAR: Changing Tides. Toe is almost comically small, and also solely responsible for navigating this massive boat. Later sequences in the game require the player to manage the fire for the engine, while spraying water to prevent overheating, and also keeping an eye that the sails don't bang into any cliffs. You can't help but wish that there was a second player around to help lighten the load. The resource and boat management loop in and of itself is not complicated or a negative on the game; it only makes you wish you had an extra pair of hands to help.
FAR: Changing Tides: Should you play it?
While there's ample challenges in FAR: Changing Tides, there's no need for there to also be pressure. It's a peaceful, almost meditative, experience that lets you just see its world and what it has to offer. The most challenging aspects can be late-game boat mechanics to keep things moving along, and the sparse storytelling can leave players wanting for more details.
Ultimately, though, FAR: Changing Tides is a short and sweet adventure that doesn't overstay its welcome or ask too much. With so many demanding games vying for players' attention it can be a nice reprieve to sit down with something a little more forgiving for an afternoon, and that is when FAR: Changing Tides is at its best.
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