FAR: Changing Tides is a new adventure game developed by Okomotive and published by Frontier Foundry. It is a sequel to 2018’s FAR: Lone Sails and follows a child exploring a flooded world in a steampunk ship. To survive and complete your journey, you have to solve puzzles, gather fuel to keep your engine running, make repairs, and upgrade your ship as you explore and find symbols and stories left behind.
The main attraction of Changing Tides is its atmosphere. A culmination of visual and audio design, the solitude of experiencing the journey is sublimely desolate. Calming music underscores a muted color palette of rolling waves, raining skies, and the ruins of the old civilization that brought about the death of the world. There are prolonged moments of silence to reflect on the state of the game’s world and the remnants of civilization you discover along the way.
The motifs of Changing Tides are by far its biggest success. It perfectly encapsulates the anxiety that many people currently feel regarding the ever-present threat of climate change. For millennials and younger generations, there is an accurate feeling of helplessness. In the real world, greed drove those that came before to pursue profit regardless of the consequences, and those who have to bear the impact of the consequences the most have the least amount of power to change it or improve things.
Changing Tides is completely void of dialogue, instead its delivering its narrative through murals. Yet, despite the lack of dialogue, it communicates helplessness with amazing accuracy. You can’t help but confront the collapsed state of the world as you quietly pass through it, a tourist in the waste left behind.
Your time sailing isn’t always spent in reflection, however. At first, your ship is equipped with only a sail, but it eventually receives numerous upgrades that give it different abilities like an engine and a crane to grab objects from underwater. To keep these running, you have to manage your fuel resources and the state of your ship. You gather fuel outside of your boat and can use that to power it, but you also have to manage things like its positioning, keeping the engines cool, and repairing any parts that break.
Throughout the journey, you also encounter numerous puzzles requiring you to manipulate rusted machinery and structures. You’ll open gates by charging systems, navigate underwater tunnels, and even destroy buildings to continue progressing. These puzzles are a great way to mix up the pacing of Changing Tides, and they serve as the primary way for the game to detail what brought the world to flooding through cryptic clues.
However, some of the puzzles can be too obtuse. The game doesn’t have tutorials beyond a few subtle messages telling you the controls early on. This sparsity continues into the puzzles and learning each of your ship’s new systems and upgrades, which really helps the game’s progression feel rewarding and natural. However, when it comes to the puzzles, this oftentimes results in only finding the solution by just trying every available option. For example, rather than knowing that your ship needed to go fast enough to ram through the obstacle, I found myself trying it simply because I had already tried everything else.
The only other issue with the game is its length. FAR: Lone Sails was criticized by some for being too short at only three hours. FAR: Changing Tides addresses this and offers a healthy bit more content, but it doesn’t always justify it. During my playthrough, there was more than one instance where I thought the journey was over and would have been more than satisfied for the game to end, but then it would continue. As the game goes on, new mechanics become more widely spaced apart, information and insights into the setting almost entirely disappear, and the puzzles become much more simple. This results in the game ending on a much more sour note than the earlier content deserves because boredom inevitably starts settling in.
The appropriate length for video games can be a contentious topic. There is a delicate balance to find between only taking as much time as you need for a game’s journey and offering players enough to get their money’s worth. For many, a game with too short of a runtime simply isn’t worth it, but I am a strong believer that the quality of the time spent with a game is more valuable than the quantity. Much of what is present in Changing Tides is plainly fantastic, but it is a shame that the game goes on for too long until it itself runs out of fuel and sputters across the finish line.
FAR: Changing Tides releases on March 1 for PC, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Switch, Xbox One, and Xbox Series X/S.
FAR: Changing Tides
- Rating - 7/107/10
Much of what is present in Changing Tides is plainly fantastic, but it is a shame that the game goes on for too long until it itself runs out of fuel and sputters across the finish line.