I almost exclusively buy games that are on sale on steam. This is great because it allows me to still afford to buy food but also because I end up buying obscure little games that I would never have sought out otherwise. I guess this may change with the introduction of Steam Curators, we’ll see. This I have to thank for finding Farsky. No, it has nothing to do with Far Cry. The title is simple to explain, you are stuck at the bottom of the ocean, the sky is pretty far away… I found myself talking about it constantly to anyone who would listen and the best way to describe this game to someone who only has 6 syllables worth of time for you is ‘underwater minecraft’.
But forget about that. Many people associate Minecraft with creation and building. Farsky is far more about survival and exploration which is always the way I play Minecraft when I’m not making symmetrical holes to the centre of the Earth. In Farsky, you are at the bottom of the ocean and you are all alone. Deal with it.
The only thing that comes close to a tutorial is ‘Madison’, who helpfully points out that you need oxygen to live and that getting to the surface would probably be a good idea. I would have appreciated it if she had told me to immediately craft a knife rather than messing about with acquiring more oxygen and installing glass walls into the rather convenient deep-sea base. I slowly starved to death on my first play-through.
I wouldn’t recommend looking up crafting recipes on wiki before playing. It’s way more funny if you don’t. Because you’ll die, slowly. Unless you attack a shark, then you’ll die quickly. That was the end of my second play-through.
Like many sandbox survival games the challenges you have to face are hunger, energy, darkness and hostile environments. Swimming about at the bottom of the ocean makes you really hungry, fast. The amount of time you can explore before returning to base is determined by your oxygen levels which you can increase through crafting better equipment. As a new player you may also want to return to base before night falls because that’s when normally passive creatures become violent. And they can attack from any direction. To start with you can only explore up to a certain depth which you can also improve through crafting.
Movement is one of my favourite aspects of the game. You can walk about on the ocean floor at a reasonable pace. You can also make up to 6 consecutive ‘jumps’ which propel you upwards from which you slowly sink back down increasing in speed the further you fall. After you have made these six jumps you can’t make any more until you land back on solid ground. You can also save some jump energy, let yourself fall a bit and then propel yourself back up a bit. This allows for a very satisfying rise and fall motion for travelling to your destination but which makes no sense whatsoever.
As you get bolder, acquire better equipment and stock ammo for your speargun you can venture deeper and deeper. The music becomes more haunting and the environment more alien. You are further and further from home and if you get too absorbed in the eerie music and beauty of where you are that you might just forget to turn back in time to make it to safety before you suffocate or before night falls and the Kraken come out to play. It doesn’t help that is near impossible to tell when night is about to fall unless you’ve set a timer. It falls suddenly and you’re left shining your arse at a shark who is way more interested in you than you would like.
After completing adventurer mode and learning from all those countless mistakes you unlock survivor mode. 1 life. Way more sharks. This is a great way to test your survival skills. The last available mode of gameplay is sandbox. Using the gold you find in the adventurer and survivor modes you can buy advanced starting equipment for your sandbox experience including a fully functional submarine. However, after completing the first 2 modes I found little need to play around in sandbox. You can’t go any deeper than 350m, even with the sub and expanding your underwater base with more glass walled rooms filled with potatoes or chairs you can’t sit on feels a bit pointless. There is also no multiplayer to speak of so no underwater speargun fights and raiding each other’s bases for more potatoes, which is all I really want from this game. Fingers-crossed the developers release a multiplayer update one day.