A Voyage of Adventure and Wonder
When I started Sail Forth, I was amused and curious when about the premise. Quirk? Check. Sailing? Amazing. Adventure? Even better. I obviously enjoy games that involve sailing with the promise of explorable worlds. I would say the game is surprisingly refreshingly as it doesn’t take itself seriously while delivering genuine fun.
Sail Forth is an adorable gem in the indie game world. Excellently paced, cleverly written, and absolutely hilarious. It was worth the time I spent exploring and traversing its world.
Take to the High Seas
While the usual ‘sailing-game’ mechanics (wind, speed, tacking, etc), are present Sail Forth implements them amazingly. Developers Festive Vector crafted an excellent experience by making the gameplay easy and satisfying, without making it so simple it’s boring. You can focus on mastering the basic elements of the game, without being bogged down by the complexity of the systems. While, there are more mechanics than the initial basic UI would suggest, the game has, so far, been decent at explaining them in well-timed segments, with clarity and wit. The game is hilarious and I appreciate its humor.
There is great satisfaction in getting the angle of the sail just right and being rewarded with that extremely satisfying gust of wind that makes your ship skip across the water. You feel excited to explore what is beyond the next horizon, what’s in the next area, and what mysteries you’ll uncover as hilarious NPCs gently give you more and more information about the world you’re in. While not every setting is unique in the islands I have uncovered so far, I found that every area presented different obstacles or events that made each Map Fragment found exciting and piqued my curiosity whenever I found a new region.
There are plenty of activities that can attract the most curious of crews. Fishing and photography are some of the interesting minigames that fill in the gaps between exploration, providing the necessary breaks between story beats, and rounding out the gameplay with other events.
Simplicity is Strength
The simplicity and relaxing nature of Sail Forth is its strength and as mentioned above, makes the gameplay and design unique and fun. However, there is absolutely repetition in the character design and general geography. Which could become tedious to navigate if Festive Vector hadn’t masterfully mastered the Nintendo style of using what they have and making the most of it. While each area generally resembles the other, every space provides something different; some new experience. In Saltsun Cay you fight Skull Clan enemies in greater numbers than before. In Fineswell Beaches you best the ‘greatest’ racer in the DeepBlue, and so on and so forth.
The combat in Sail Forth (extremely important in pirate games) is, paradoxically, both easy and difficult in getting correct. But while playing, I never felt particularly frustrated. Rather, I am thrilled by the challenge and take great satisfaction whenever I finagle my way through the tasks presented. The agile movement of your fleet and your enemies’ fleet, makes each combat scenario gripping as you weave and bob between islands, rocks, and even allied ships.
Composer and sound designer, Andrew Nack, should be praised, for his excellent use of calm and serene tracks while sailing, mixed in with exciting and energetic music while in combat. I thoroughly enjoyed the ambiance the OST produces. In addition, having played many other games that involve sailing the high seas, I was very eager to find out how well the sound of the game would hold up in comparison. While, given that this is an indie game, I cannot fault productions that obviously cannot match bigger budgets.
Wonders of Exploration
Sail Forth ticks the check box with its SFXs. While nothing groundbreaking, the sailing is immersive and enjoyable while the sea splashes beneath your hull, the ropes and masts gently creak above you, and you can almost smell the salty air as you guide your ship across the ocean.
This review is the critique and thoughts of one writer. If you want to see how other critics felt then check it out on OpenCritic.
Disclaimer: Stride PR provided the game used for this review.
8Bit/Digi is an independent media outlet that provides an insight into the gamer community of the San Francisco Bay Area.