Far: Changing Tides trades the dried-out seabed of its predecessor with a world claimed by water. This drastic scenery shift is evident from its very first moments when protagonist Toe plunges into the ocean that seemingly spans the entire world. After a few brief seconds of helplessness, he swims to the surface, where the rooftops of tall, abandoned buildings lie in silence.
It’s an introduction that establishes the scale of things and foreshadows what’s to follow: you’re a tiny boy that has to overcome gargantuan obstacles and contend with nature itself as you push eastwards into the unknown. Much like its predecessor, Far: Changing Tides doesn’t take long before it sees you freeing a strange vessel from an old, forgotten hangar. This ramshackle-looking seafaring hunk of metal is not just an instrumental tool on your journey but also your sole companion.
You spend a good chunk of your time onboard, managing and repairing a handful of systems that keep it going. In order to move, you either need to harness the power of the wind using the ship’s sails or burn objects in its furnace. The former requires you to manually raise the mast by pushing a button that’s about as big as Toe, then climb to its top, pick up a hook, and extend the sails by connecting it to a lower point on the roof of the ship.
“There’s something eerily cozy about staying on top of your ship, listening to the wind in your sails and the water crashing against the hull as you steadily push a massive buoy aside and sail past rusted industrial structures doomed to never be used again.”
For the latter, you’ll have to either manually feed the furnace items found inside structures and on the seabed, or attach them to hooks on the lower level ahead of time, then channel your inner Mario and jump into a light blue button that automatically fills up the furnace. This turns them into fuel, which you need to light up by jumping on nearby bellows. As you progress, you unlock new levers and buttons that let you use a retractable hook, boost your speed while managing your engine’s temperature by spraying it with water, as well as the ability for your vehicle to submerge.
This sees Far: Changing Tides exploring a new dimension where your main focus is controlling whether your ship ascends or descend as it moves forward. You’ll gradually find yourself running between different rooms and interacting with levers, buttons, and hooks, in puzzle-style gameplay that’s very similar but richer than its predecessor’s. This effort of keeping the giant metal behemoth moving and in good shape is not just engaging but also helps create a bond with your vessel.
Periodically, your journey comes to a full stop as your path is blocked by all manners of obstacles. These range from wreckage to remnants of structures from the old world or imposing cliffs. This is when you’ll need to leave your ship behind, explore your surroundings, and complete simple puzzles that eventually – and fairly conveniently – see you across. Most of them involve simple actions like dragging boxes to reach higher places, moving machinery, or using levers and hooks to clear the way.
Unfortunately, several of them keep suggestions as to what you need to do fairly vague, which can stretch out these sequences you spend away from your ship, noticeably hurting the game’s pacing. Far: Changing Tides doesn’t have any dialog, so you rely on visual cues like yellow lights or light-blue colored objects to point you towards objects with which you can interact.
The camera was, on one occasion, fairly uncooperative, making a puzzle that involved lining a broken segment of a ship with Toe’s vessel more frustrating than it needed to be. The protagonist’s movement also feels slightly loose – particularly when jumping – but this only translates to a feeling that something’s slightly off, since you cannot die, even when falling from great heights.
Far: Changing Tides oozes atmosphere, alternating between tranquil meditative moments and grander, boisterous ones. There’s something eerily cozy about staying on top of your ship, listening to the wind in your sails and the water crashing against the hull as you steadily push a massive buoy aside and sail past rusted industrial structures doomed to never be used again. You occasionally see wildlife passing by, removing the sense of complete isolation that permeated the previous game.
“Far: Changing Tides oozes atmosphere, alternating between tranquil meditative moments and grander, boisterous ones.”
Powerful musical crescendos act almost as rewards for completing puzzles that open massive doors or removing a giant piece of metal from your path, highlighting what a small boy with lots of will and the power of heavy machinery can do. They help enforce that these otherwise simple detours from your journey are, indeed, a major step forward.
Among the fuel canisters and boxes you pick up, you’ll find the occasional flower, carved statue, and music box. These are trinkets that clearly belonged to someone in the days before and, while I was tempted to keep them on board as a reminder of a world now gone, they ultimately served as fuel for the ever-demanding furnace.
The sequel also prioritizes environmental storytelling, relying on vague murals, drawings, pictures, and background objects to help you piece things together. At the same time, they feel much vaguer than before, to the point where actually sewing a narrative thread of what led to the catastrophe around you is anything but easy. Small moments – which you’re better off discovering yourself – do still tug on your heartstrings but, as a whole, I felt much less connected to the fate of this world than Lone Sails’.
Perhaps it also has to do with Far: Changing Tides different approach to color. Its predecessor relied more on black and grey for its backgrounds, powerfully contrasting the red and blue of the vehicle. This time around, the palette is richer but also considerably more muted. This, strangely enough, makes the background objects often blend into each other, relegating them to the status of simple scenery rather than ruins telling a wordless story of what happened.
On an i7-8700K, 16 GB RAM, Nvidia RTX 3080@1080p, Far: Changing Tides ran flawlessly, without a single hitch or issue.
The ability to pick between seventeen different languages is the closest thing Far: Changing Tides has to accessibility settings.
FAR: CHANGING TIDES VERDICT
Far: Changing Tides largely sticks to the same recipe as its predecessor, making its vessel more complex and sending players on a journey through a different world. Its description as a companion game is fitting – although you will get slightly more out of it if you play the series in order – and while I loved the original, the sequel didn’t grab me as much.
There’s something great about helping the small protagonist make a big hunk of metalwork by diligently pressing buttons, loading items into the furnace, jumping on bellows, and lowering the mast so it doesn’t collide with incoming structures.
But pacing problems, environmental storytelling that’s a little too vague, and an art style that sacrifices contrast for a richer yet muted color palette, ended up making me less invested in the world and Toe’s journey. I’m glad I saw it through; I just don’t feel the same mixture of awe and sorrow that was so prevalent in its predecessor.
TOP GAME MOMENT
The game’s final moments, but saying anything more would mean spoiling them.
Familiar yet engaging puzzle gameplay
Music steps in at the right moment, making solving the game's bigger puzzles feel like actual triumphs
You form a bond with your ship as the journey progresses
Less striking color palette
Environmental storytelling that's a little too vague