Sail Forth is a sailing-exploration game, emphasis on the sailing (hence the title). Which reminds me of the legendary game Sid Meier’s Pirates! (2005). Heck, this game even surpass the predecessor in sailing aspect. This reason alone easily put the game in my top-10 favorites of all time.
Bear in mind that this is a game, not a simulator. So sailing is somehow inaccurate, like, the angle of the no-go zone is so small – so forgivable to sail close-hauled, however you cannot tacking with square-rigged Viking ship, while sometimes you can sail a ship so fast she flew of a tip of a wave (which is actually quite fascinating and fun)!
Nevertheless, this game done the sailing part a lot better than other games that feature sail ships. As you can see, humanity popularize the “pirate” theme fantasy. In film, we have the flagship of the genre the Pirates of the Caribbean (2003-2017), which in turn expanded into the game universe Sea of Thieves (2018). And that game, is a scar on sailing genre. How the heck their ship can sail directly into the eye of the wind, with full sail? Not to mention that they only feature square-rigged ships! (Well, at least SoT is a lot better than some other games that just simply ignore the wind all together.)
So it is crucial that Sail Forth stays true to the nature of sailing. That is the game take wind direction seriously. Which is reflected in the ship control that you are not only need to positioning your ship according to the point of sail, but also have to trim the sail to catch maximum amount of wind as well! On gaming level, I would say that the developer strike the perfect balance of how much to take wind into account. Keep us players busy observing wind direction, but not make it too complicated to the point that hindered the fun of the game.
And it’s the trimming part that makes this game surpass Sid Meier’s Pirates! in term of sailing. Make us fun just by maneuvering the ship around, like Super Mario that prioritized movements of the Jumpman first.
That being said, the game is not flawless.
The main drawback of the game is that it employ a procedural generated world, rather than a carefully hand-crafted map. On the plus side, this enable replayability with the element of randomness. However, the generated world, as the time of writing during the launch, is quite shallow. Most of the map is the vast emptiness of the sea, even the archipelago feels empty. Each island also possess an unrealistic simple shape: a circle. I don’t think the game should go toward realism, but at least I wish the game’s world to contain more island variation, like, a long strip island, a crescent island, or even a large island with river and peninsula. The point is, make those islands more distinguished, so we are more immersed into this Waterworld. Which ultimately it’s easier to hand-crafted the world instead, but I guess it’s too late in this stage of the game?
Also the exploration part is a lot far behind those well written stories in Sid Meier’s Pirates! or Sea of Thieves. Can’t really blame them though, it’s an indie studio vs AAA blockbusters. (And, take studio’s size into account, Sail Forth have done an impressive job with this limited resource!)
This is a great game, not perfect, not masterpiece, but really really great. And if you’re into sailing, I can totally recommend it.
Originally published on: Steam