Release Date: 03/01/2022
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Lone Sails was an interesting puzzle adventure game that took place on a 2D plane. You micro-managed various things on your vessel while acquiring upgrades to pass new obstacles. Changing Tides is exactly the same thing but on a boat instead.
There is no store or character building at all and that really sucks. I can tell the world in Far is sad and clearly post-apocalyptic, but the game gives me no reason to care about it other than the puzzles. You start out swimming this time and learning the basics. Jumping, climbing ladders, moving objects, and picking them up. You then acquire your ship and learn how to manage your fuel, sails, filling with air or water for submarine controls, cool your engine, and use your boost power. You acquire these over the course of the game, but fuel management is key. Don’t use fuel unless you don’t have wind which was the mistake I made. I wound up with tons of fuel at one point without realizing that’s the most I would ever get and that was 2/3 through the game.
Gathering fuel is done by collecting junk laying around. This isn’t often and sometimes you will hit a buoy and below these are caches of fuel. Don’t get lazy and skip them, but sadly the game never tells you to look out for these either. Each upgrade requires a giant puzzle of a level and they were never hard or complicated. Mostly it’s pushing a lever to drop an object to place into a machine. They’re fun, but not hard. While you’re sailing there will be long stretches of nothing. Sometimes not even music. This can get quite boring as the micromanagement of the ship gets tiresome after a while. It was fun at first, but I felt like this was the main gameplay loop and not the puzzles. Overall there are only four upgrades to get so about 4-5 puzzles in total. You spend at least 2-3 hours just sailing and micromanaging your fuel and sails.
Once in a while, there are cinematic platforming moments in which you just follow a linear path which was neat because it’s the only action in the game. I just can’t care a lot about this series without some kind of back story or context. Games like Limbo, Inside, and Little Nightmares do this well with storytelling from your envirnment. There’s not much to tell in open oceans with just wasted buildings. Even the puzzle areas had murals that supposedly told a story, but it really didn’t mean anything. There’s only one neat moment at the very end of the game before the credits roll and that was it.
The platforming itself is fine if not slippery. I constantly found myself wanting to twitch jump around the ship and I would constantly fall down holes, get stuck on ladders, or not get to where I wanted because of the slippery jumping and physics. It’s also a bit too floaty. The puzzles are the most enjoyable part of the game and it’s a shame the boating is so tedious and boring most of the time with nothing going on. If it were cinematic or more interesting of a management system I would really like this idea. I didn’t care for it in Lone Sails and it was doubled down on here.
Overall, Changing Tides looks good for what it is and has a nice art style, but you will quickly forget this game. It’s about 3-4 hours long and I can’t stress enough that there’s way too much boating and not enough puzzle-solving or platforming.