Sail Forth (Switch eShop) Review
Cut the sails and drop the anchor, because Sailing launched without warning on Switch. This light-hearted, laid-back exploration takes players into an ocean full of unfamiliar locals and even unfamiliar characters. Those looking for realism in their sailing game will find better options out there, but Sail Forth has an undeniable charm that will draw you in from the very beginning.
Sail Forth opens with Captain Toot waking up on their damaged ship with curses cast by a bright light in the sky. Momentarily, they set off on the water, recruiting new sailors for their cause and, ultimately, building a fleet of ships under their command. While the opening cutscene promises a story to save the world, that concept is quickly dropped because of what becomes the heart of the game: wandering aimlessly.
During our time with Sail Forth, it reminded us of someone holding onto the procedurally generated basics of There is no human sky and give it a Awaken the wind-eque aesthetic shaded. While there are plenty of pirates to fight wherever you go, most of the game’s time is spent wandering the seas, moving from one biome to another in search of shadows. dark that the talking star mentioned in the opening. The oceans gradually open up to you, opening up more opportunities to fight or fulfill requests from the quirks living on the randomly generated islands you find.
Deepblue’s map opens slowly, with areas that need to be explored before you can fast travel to them. Sometimes characters will tell you about a landmark that will mark it on your map, but more often you will uncover map pieces as you explore, which will lead you to the next important point. follow on your journey. It’s a bit disappointing when the world feels so barren and empty outside of the marked areas, leaving you with no choice but to quickly travel between those regions. It would be interesting to be able to just sail from one end of the map to the other, but we have a feeling that the game won’t be able to handle the payload of a true open world.
Moving requires paying attention to the direction of the wind and letting it guide part of your path. Technically, trying to go against the wind is doable but annoyingly slow, which is a feature and not a bug in the game. As title, sailboat is what you’re signing up for here, and despite the stylized visuals, Sail Forth’s sailing is more realistic than many other games that put you at the helm. Trying to sail with the mentality of taking the shortest route to your next goal will not only slow you down, but it will also cause you to miss important moments in the game. When facing a stiff headwind, the best option is to cut the sails and change course to see the next surprise at sea that awaits you.
Speaking of bugs, the Sail Forth is definitely glitch-free. Most are relatively minor, such as stuttering frame rates or your ship going high when you move to a new part of the map only to plunge into the water a moment later. The worst error comes when our Joy-Cons suddenly stop registering inputs for a few seconds, often at the most inconvenient times. While this rarely happens, it’s frustrating to be suddenly left out of relaxation exploration.
While it’s not the focus of the game, there are times when combat is necessary in Sail Forth. The Skull Clan pirates and the inevitable sea monsters are an occasional obstacle that pops up as you study the nature of the strange Deadrock that seems to be spoiling the seas. There are a variety of loaded weapons to choose from, with some offering increased range or firepower. Most battles are slow-moving, requiring you to get your ship in place before taking down your enemies.
Each ship you add to your fleet has different maneuverability and weapon placement, giving you plenty of options for how you deal with these enemies. Some are forward while others are on either side of your ship, allowing for a more conventional ship-to-ship combat experience. Aside from aesthetic choices like colors and flying emblems on your sails, this is the primary way you can customize your fleet. It’s not too deep but it adds a much-needed crease to keep Sail Forth from feeling uncomfortable.
As you explore the oceans, you’ll encounter a colorful cast of characters. Some will offer to join your crew, awarding stats like ship repair time, attack speed, or sailing speed. Many will give you tasks like delivering snacks to a struggling chef or giving a box full of angry bees to a random stranger. Our favorite is the sea slug in a suit that takes on all the stereotypes of a used car salesman as he tries to deliver his goods to us, but there are plenty of interesting characters that pop up as you go. boat through Deepblue.
There’s a playfulness in the art design, obviously taking cues from games like The Legend of Zelda’s cel-shading line. While none of the characters particularly stand out with their design, they help with the sound and act as an effective reminder that this game should be approached with a light-hearted mindset.
That playfulness extends to your crew members popping up to warn you of approaching ships and other potential dangers. Much of their dialogue sounds like someone putting vague maritime terms into a random generator and hitting play, generating sentences that make absolutely no sense but still get their point across and add whimsical feel, this is the hallmark of Sail Forth.
While it’s not perfectly put together, and the playful nature of the graphics may not be to everyone’s taste, Sail Forth has more to offer than against it. The shaded images bring a lot of appeal to a simple yet fun adventure of discovery and exploration. The music and ambient sounds draw you into the world, although their work is slightly undone due to some technical shortcomings.
Sail Forth isn’t the best open-world game for the Switch, but it uses the procedurally generated formula presented in No Man’s Sky and feels much more accessible (and maritime). The visuals are relaxing and effective, and almost every character has a lot of charm in the way they’re presented. Sailing is surprisingly enjoyable despite some distracting bugs, and the fleet-building mechanics have enough depth without feeling overwhelming. A good way to relax if you’re happy to go with the wind.