It’s a post-apocalypse world, but not one full of cannibals or warring tribes. It’s just you (a figure clad in red) and your landship, which you drive across the barren landscape. FAR: Lone Sails is the debut game from Swiss indie development studio Okomotive.
FAR: Lone Sails begins with your character standing over a grave, the portrait of a man atop it. This is a wordless game; what storytelling there is comes through the visuals. Who was this person to you? That’s for you to decide. On your journey you’ll pass through hamlets, factories, and shipyards. Where is everyone, and how did the world end? It’s like if someone stuck you in the Fallout world and removed every mention of the nuclear war—it feels like the clues, if not the answers, are just out of reach. The upside of this passive style of storytelling is that it had me guessing how the game would end up until the very last moment.
FAR: Lone Sails is presented as a side-scroller. The landship is seen as a cross-section, which you move about to make the ship function. Your main concerns are the fuel and steam levels. Along the way you’ll find fuel packs and trash to feed the engine, and you’ll have to make sure the boiler doesn’t overheat, venting steam to give a small speed boost. You’ll also get a few upgrades to the landship, chiefly a large set of sails to help it along if the wind is in your favor and giving your ride a striking profile. Other upgrades, like a vacuum to suck up fuel pieces, I found quite useless—having to time it just right to run to the back of the ship and activate it as it passes over the item, it was always easier to just stop the landship and hop out to grab the item.
Keeping the landship running never gets so frantic to the point of stress, but it’s enough to keep you engaged. That said, there are a few too many stretches were you do nothing but drive for extended periods. There was one particularly long stretch near the end of the game where I thought the game was over, that this was how the game ended, just driving off into the unknown.
There are puzzles to solve along the way, forcing you to leave the landship to clear the way forward. Most puzzles involve big red buttons—the solutions are never complex, but hidden enough to make you to go “why didn’t I see that earlier?” when you finally figure it out.
The music is your only companion on this journey, and its moods are many—it’s sad, adventurous, and contemplative. And there are points when they get things right and let the most effective soundtrack do the work: silence. Similarly, the color palette sets the mood: heavy shadows and muted colors are common, with important details picked out in red. Coupled with the music, it captures an air of desolation.
In my playthrough I never encountered any major technical issues, though a few times I did run out of fuel at a critical point or otherwise couldn’t continue on and had to reload a previous save; thankfully the checkpoint system puts your progress back no more than 10 minutes.
FAR: Lone Sails can be finished in about two and a half hours. That’s short enough to be completed in a single sitting. Given the extreme linearity of the game (not that that’s a bad thing), I don’t know how much replayability the game has. FAR: Lone Sails released at $15. For a game that’s under three hours, is that a reasonable asking price? You be the judge.
Despite its length, I found FAR: Lone Sails to be a delightful, simple game that looks great. It’s a solid start for a new developer and I’m looking forward to seeing what Okomotive comes up with next.
FAR: Lone Sails is available on PC and Mac, with plans to come to Xbox One and Playstation 4.