I didn’t realise how much I needed to play FAR: Changing Tides until I booted it up.
Games have been a lot lately, haven’t they? The pandemic has definitely affected release schedules over the past few years and, as such, 2022 has been full of one hit after another.
Pokémon Legends: Arceus, Dying Light 2, Horizon: Forbidden West, Elden Ring. Then we had the somewhat unexpected return of Cyberpunk 2077 and there’s games like Elex 2, the latest Destiny 2 expansion and still more to come.
It’s been a full-on schedule, we’ve been completely spoilt for riches already and we’re barely into March. It’s a fantastic time to be a gamer but I’m not going to lie, I definitely needed a bit of a palette cleanser before I could even think about what’s ahead.
Enter FAR: Changing Tides – which also happens to be on Xbox Game Pass, by the way. And, wow, the game just feels so chill and easy-going with its slower pace and world-building. Initially, at least.
For once, I’m not feeling this constant pressure to be at my controller in case a mob randomly spawns next to me and I lose hours of progress. It’s so very much needed with the likes of Elden Ring and Destiny 2 cultivating an always-on mentality of late.
I can leave the boat calmly roaming through the waters between sections while I check my phone or do a chore or make a cup of tea. I might have to change the sails around a little bit to move in time with the wind, or fire up the engine, but it’s never strenuous.
Of course, things do pick up, going hand in hand with the story. But that’s something I’m going to leave purposefully vague for fear of spoilers. Much like games like Inside and Limbo, what you think you know or expect from the outset of the game, changes very quickly.
What I can say is the game literally starts off with you drowning. So, you need to find a way to get to shore but as you do, you’ll see the effects water has had on the world around. Debris is everywhere, there’s driftwood floating around, houses, boats, vehicles of all shapes and sizes have sunk.
It’s fair to say that the world isn’t in a good way and will probably be completely underwater sooner than later which is a pretty terrifying prospect. And so the need to find a vessel to carry you through becomes a necessity rather than a luxury.
Finding that vessel is just the beginning, though. Once you do you’ll need to maintain it through various ways by pulling levers, pressing buttons, and general puzzle-solving. For instance, flotsam in the ocean and some resources can be burned to fuel the engine, but as you traverse ahead, there’ll be occassions when you need to move obstacles to progress, and even deal with spontaneous weather conditions.
FAR is a really smart game. It slowly introduces new mechanics to keep things fresh, slowly expanding the things you can do on your vessel through upgrades, and indeed, even in the water and on land.
But it’s also a surprisingly stunning game as you side-scroll through this weather torn world with trees flapping in the wind and the waves smoothly ebbing and flowing. The way the game manages sizing is really impressive as well, as you ascend on high and gaze down below, as well as move around your ship.
You can be left a bit aimless at times, though, especially when you’re resource hunting and are left in the middle of the ocean. Sometimes I had to search all corners just to get the one piece I needed to progress. It’s also sometimes not clear what to do and how to do it, especially when you need to repair things. Fortunately, it’s not all too difficult to figure things out for yourself, though some signposting would have definitely helped.
FAR: Changing Tides is a game that surprisingly inspires some deep thinking but also has a more relaxing pace when compared to pretty much everything else on the market right now. I loved every step of the journey and encourage everyone to make the time to play, what is sure to be, one of the best indies of 2022 and a perfect palette cleanser to break up the full-on releases we’re in the midst of.
+ A beautiful, atmospheric world, stunningly depicted
+ Some smart puzzles and mechanics
+ An enjoyable, relaxing ride which inspires some deep thinking
– Can get a bit aimless and directionless at times.
FAR: Changing Tides is now available on Xbox, PC and PlayStation
Played on Xbox Series X
Code Kindly Provided by Frontier