This world has been devastated by floods, destroyed by a cataclysm of biblical proportions. No one is left, just you and your strange ship. Occasionally there are signs of life. A moose appears with its calf, watches you for a spell, then gallops away. A seagull journeys with you momentarily. A whale even makes a memorable cameo, gracefully drifting past, unconcerned. I absent-mindedly adjust the sails to catch the wind, with one eye on the ruined world slowly sliding past.
One of the kids peeks in to watch me playing, declaring that the game looks boring. Although they admit the boy looks cute.
Not boring, I counter. Sedate. Thoughtful. And I’m not even sure that is a boy: the tiny character you control could easily be a girl. We know nothing about them. All we know is that they’re on a journey, and we have to keep them going.
It feels good to be moving. After two years in Covid stasis, stuck, uncertain, I’d forgotten the joy of travelling. The destination is unimportant; it just feels good to be going somewhere.
Impediments to your progress regularly appear. A locked gate, or fallen debris. A little light puzzling will see you on your way, as you grapple with unfamiliar mechanisms to shift whatever blocks your path. Sometimes you’ll have to lower your sail and switch to engine power if the wind fails. Narrow canyons might batter your mast. Overheating boilers might give up the ghost in a shower of sparks. Stop, repair the damage, and continue on your way. Keep going. Keep moving.
The first hour feels familiar, a re-run of FAR: Lone Sails on water rather than sand. Then comes the glorious moment when you realise your craft can submerge beneath the waves, and a whole new game opens up below the waterline. There are two worlds to explore here, one above, one below, and quickly it becomes apparent that Changing Tides is a vastly bigger proposition. Once it really gets going, surprises come at a delightful pace, with exciting ship modifications and unexpected twists. The final moments will raise a smile.
Nothing is really explained. Mysteries are left hanging. We don’t know what our avatar is running from or where they are running to. The only thing that matters is the journey.
The moment you submerge your craft for the first time is a revelation: there’s a whole other world down here. Piloting your vessel through narrow caves is a highlight, as you gingerly adjust the throttle and carefully rise and descend, while a sonar screen helpfully highlights any sunken goodies.
A sedate voyage into the unknown that will stay with you long after you’ve reached your goal.
Genre: Adventure | Format: Switch (tested)/ XBO / XB S/X / PS5 / PC | Developer: Okomotive | Publisher: Frontier Developments | Price:
£14.99 | Release: Out now