FAR: Changing Tides (2022)
It's one of those rare times that I actually review a game that just released, so I was really excited to bring y'all this one as soon as I could! This review was delayed since I wasn't able to finish and review the game in one day, but I think it was worth it. I was looking forward to playing this game on release day and was really pleasantly surprised when I saw Xbox Pass had it available day one! FAR: Changing Tides is a sequel to FAR: Lone Sails, a game I've review before, so be sure to check out that review as well. FAR: Changing Tides is a solitary journey through a flooded, destroyed world where you solve puzzles and operate a large boat. At times, the vastness of the landscape felt too empty to keep me engaged, but the terrifyingly immense and mysterious underwater world is what made this adventure unique.
The character you play as looks pretty similar to the one from FAR: Lone Sails, except they have blue clothing instead of red. They appear to be a small child with shaggy hair. You start the game in a pretty shocking way - drifting underwater in an abandoned, flooded city. You make your way around by solving some puzzles, and eventually find a giant boat to fix up. This boat has a huge sail which takes a little bit to figure out - you have to both tie the sail down and then direct it towards direction of the wind. Then there's an engine which powers two large paddles on the boat. You'll power this engine using fuel containers you find on your path, so make sure you always have plenty stocked up. This game spends very little time telling you how to do anything, which can be a little frustrating and time-consuming. However, it's very good at guiding you with clues and letting you try different things out to see what works. Once I got the hang of it, I was able to be more efficient with switching between using the engine, the sail, and even the pump that can take you underwater.
Without a doubt, FAR: Changing Tides has some beautiful environments. However, since you're traveling over water as opposed to land, sometimes there's just less to look at while you're driving ahead and it can feel a little empty. The art really stands out most in the water surface and under the water. The waves are so realistic, large, and fearsome as you swim on the surface. The underwater worlds are dark, mythical, and haunting. It's really scary but really cool to sink deep into the ocean and discover ruins of civilization. The music in FAR: Changing Tides is beautiful, jazzy, and serene - when it's there. Often times it's completely quiet, letting your hear only little footprints or the engine chugging along. It makes you feel very lonely, surround by echoes of your own sounds. The music came in to really highlight important or climatic parts, or when you had a new environment to take in.
It's still a little unclear to me, but it does seem like FAR: Changing Tides takes place in a world that has experienced rapid climate change - flooded cities, melting icebergs, and decimated human civilizations. Your biggest opponent is nature itself steering through its natural course. Even your mighty boat is nothing compared to nature's course. There's no dialogue at all, but if you take in all of the details, there's some semblance of story being told. With what you're given, you're able to sort of put together the pieces of how this game's story might end. I think it was actually pretty perfect, despite the fact that I'd predicted it midway through the game. It was the right way to conclude the journey.
When explaining the concept of the game, FAR: Changing Tides sounds like it could be boring. It's a very quiet and solitary adventure where you push forward, not really knowing your destination. However, keeping your boat going despite the forces around you is a busy job. You end up exploring forgotten worlds and discovering artifacts and technology that you'd never expect. FAR: Changing Tides does such an excellent job of displaying the sheer enormity and ferocity of nature, making us as humans feel tiny in comparison. I highly recommend this game, but I would recommend playing FAR: Lone Sails first. This is an excellent sequel but there was a certain magic to the first game that, to me, was not matched by the longer, somewhat slower journey of this game.
FAR: Changing Tides is available on PC, Switch, PS4/PS5, Xbox One, and Xbox Series X|S
Played on: PC
Playtime: 6.5 hrs