FAR: Lone Sails tells a wordless story of a lonely journey taken by a red-hooded protagonist and their odd, yet somehow personified mechanical vehicle.
Finding yourself alone in a game is not a common affair. There are NPCs, animals, other players and all kinds of interactions to make you feel part of that world. It’s not common to be left with your emotions, but FAR: Lone Sails sets you off on a mysterious journey with a scrap of the story — a photo of an old man placed on what seems like a memorial — and little more.
It is within this solitude that you find yourself relying on simple pleasures to get you by. Once you find and hop into your traveling steam-powered behemoth, you are able to abandon the stagnation of your empty home, and push forward, towards discovery. There’s a wide expanse of white landscape with the occasional flurry of buildings and signs of past civilization, waiting for you to explore it all. The music helps set the mood, too, as I often found that it would wrap me in a sonic entanglement of strings and synths, energizing my purpose and fueling my journey forward. Within your machine is both shelter and purpose, but it’s a tough job keeping her shipshape.
Between loading random boxes and barrels into what I could only suggest be called an ‘energy tube’ to fill up the fuel tank, keeping the throttle button pressed and making sure the sails are hoisted, you have a lot of different tasks — all while this steaming monstrosity barrels down the open land. Utilizing wind helps the task as it lessens the load on your ever-hungry fuel tank, but knowing when to use the sail or not is a task in and of itself. Subtle cues like windmills spinning are a clever way to tell you that wind has returned and that it’s okay to unfurl the sails and give your arms a break from lifting fuel into the converter.
There’s a lot of unspoken symbolism within FAR: Lone Sails, mostly in the emptiness. You are required to take this vehicle — broken and all — and fix it back into its former self throughout your journey. Most of the land you traverse is a dried-out seabed, showcasing regrets and wasted potential. I feel that it’s a clever metaphor for loss. Taking your broken, barely functional life and trying to reassemble it is something we all seem to be facing these days. Putting out fires and fixing mechanical issues is very similar to the tribulations we see on a weekly basis. It certainly seems like an insurmountable task, but FAR: Lone Sails has you doing it over and over again, overcoming the odds. You never know what’s around the bend, but you better be prepared for it.
Beauty is not lost in this savage, barren world, however. As a new day rises on the pink horizon, bison stroll casually, crossing your path. The notes from a guitar casually strum and mix with the sound of the wind, until a saxophone offers up cheerful notes, amplifying the impact of the sunrise and telling of new beginnings. This shows that the world still continues, regardless of your pilgrimage, and is a fair testament to the underlying message I feel the game tries to convey: there’s always another day, another chance to make it right.
There is a lot to enjoy in FAR: Lone Sails, but the watercolor stylings of the backgrounds and world are downright amazing. Skidding along in a nighttime scene with a blanket of stars above you while some somber, ambient strings play really puts into perspective your size in the cosmos. The game itself does a wonderful job of telling a tale with no dialogue, but the art in FAR: Lone Sails makes it transcendental. It’s a wonderful experience to behold from beginning to end and I wouldn’t change it in any way.