Steampunk may be a little overplayed these days, but Far: Lone Sails stands out from the top hat and techno-monocle crowd. Its stark, shifting palette of whites, reds and dark blues, a bleak and empty world that feels enormous around your tiny character, and the centrepiece of the action: your creaking steam-powered land-ship.
In this quiet post-apocalyptic adventure, your tiny little plains-wanderer is tasked with maintaining and singlehandedly crewing this enormous vessel across the great plains of a long-dry seabed in search of civilisation out in the wastes. It also launches today.
I got to take a little peek at Far: Lone Sails at EGX Rezzed recently, and while a crowded convention centre isn’t perhaps the ideal environment in which to soak in the quiet, wind-swept atmosphere of the game, I was pleasantly surprised with just how solid and tactile the world felt. Your ship feels like a convincingly real vessel, its internal workings ticking along as its broad prow crunches its way through crumbling structures, and its massive wheels slowly cut their way across the sand.
While other games (such as Lovers in a Dangerous Spacetime and Regular Human Basketball) have experimented with the idea of having a little platformer-style character operating a vehicle in a much larger-scale world, Far’s initially more contemplative pace gives it a very different feel. You’re not frantically hopping between stations trying to score a victory, just making your way gradually forwards. And if all else fails, you’ve got the option of hopping out of your ship and dragging it (very slowly) across the sands instead. A somewhat softer ‘failure’ state than most.
As for whether there’s enough variety in the scenarios encountered to keep the central loop of gathering fuel and travelling across the plains engaging until the credits roll, that’s another question entirely, and one I’m not equipped to answer, but I can say that it at least strikes a strong first impression.