Wednesday, 5 August 2015


Post-Launch Review
Developer: Farsky Interactive
Released: April 2014
Played: Adventure mode complete in < 2hours; some survival mode


With his submarine destroyed and his pressure suit too heavy to swim up, Nathan is trapped at the bottom of the ocean. He'll need to gather resources and upgrade his equipment to explore the seabed and find the broken pieces of his submarine, all while being hunted by dangerous ocean predators.

At Launch

FarSky is a small enough game that I'm actually having some trouble finding reviews from known critics. What reviews I can find seem to be mixed, enjoying the concept but finding the content lacking.

Post Launch

Some lazy googling didn't turn up any patches.

I was intrigued by FarSky the first time I saw it. Not a lot of games are set underwater, and even fewer actually let you roam freely in the water - but that's the entire premise of FarSky. The world is randomly generated for you each time, with different geography, resource locations, and submarine piece placements. 

I've seen some comparisons to Minecraft, which is kind of inevitable with a randomly-generated open-world map with crafting. Beyond that, FarSky is not like Minecraft. To compare it to another game I've played, it's much more like Sir, You Are Being Hunted: it's an object collection survival game, where the open world is there for replayability, not for building and exploring.

But even though I just said that exploring isn't really the main focus, my biggest complaint about FarSky is the lack of memorable landmarks to assist in visual navigation. There's not enough variation in the environments for me to really get a feel for moving around without the map, and it's inconvenient to make my own landmarks (the best way I found is with extractors). The map itself is actually quite good, though, since every nearby resource is marked automatically on the 3D wireframe topography.

That lack of variation dampens my enthusiasm for the game as a whole. Exploring is less interesting when everything looks the same, and you can never expect to find anything unique. I get that there's not a lot going on in most areas of the seafloor, and what's present in FarSky is probably already quite a lot of embellishment, but it would be nice to see some more unique geography or notable landmarks.

In terms of how the game actually works, the first playthrough is really a sort of tutorial for the "real" game. With the locations of the submarine pieces clearly marked on my map, it was almost a checklist - grab this piece, grab that piece, upgrade gear to go down a level and grab the next piece. The real experience comes in once you clear the basic mode and unlock survival mode, where sub pieces are not marked on your map, predators are more numerous, and you only get one life.

Survival mode is more tense, and predators are more of a threat. I found crystal mining dangerous even in the intro playthrough, but it's a lot scarier when there's even more coming after you. That said, survival mode still isn't that much more engaging. You can't spot the sub pieces until you're fairly close, and there's no other way to find them than stumbling across the pieces. So instead of a checklist, you're now spending a lot of time wandering around the map hoping to randomly find what you're looking for. Since your tools never wear out, resource collection and crafting are easy enough that you can spend a little time to stock up on enough gear to feel pretty safe, even with the increased predator count.

FarSky ends up feeling sparse. It's an interesting idea with some good elements that held my attention for a few hours, but there's not enough there, visually or mechanically, for me to come back to it. It was interesting to try out, but there's nothing to keep you going after a short while of poking around.

Recommendation: don't play.

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