Have you ever wanted to experience the harrowing act of sitting in a car teetering on the edge of a cliff? And while hanging from that cliff, have you ever wanted to breathe deeply, calmly look at nature, and befriend a deer? These are all things that form the backdrop for George Batchelor’s visual novel, Far From Noise.
You play as a woman trapped in a car that is tipping precariously on the edge of a sheer cliff on the coast of an unspecified ocean. While sitting in this car, she ruminates on decisions and feelings she has had during her life. After a little while, a calming presence shows itself in the form of a deer, and you spend much of the remainder of the game talking to this buck. If that sounds like a bizarre setup for a game, that’s because it is. But when it comes to Far From Noise, weird for weirdness’ sake is not the name of the game. It all has a purpose, and it works spectacularly. It’s up to you to pick the dialogue options. Much of the time, you’re only given one choice, but there are many opportunities with branching dialogue, and this shapes the sights and sounds you will experience in your run of the game.
Across the just about two hours of playtime, there are a variety of animals and types of weather you will encounter alongside your deer friend, and your dialogue choices influence this. It’s especially great because the variation in events is subtle. There are never really dialogue choice that equate to “choose seeing a rabbit” or “choose seeing a squirrel”. You just maintain the natural flow of conversation and the game changes things behind the scenes for you without having you realise you actually changed things. This system works marvellously here, as the conversations are engrossing and intimate, so there's no need for the title to be explicit about what's happening behind-the-scenes.
With just a single scene in the game, it's down to the dialogue to carry the experience. And given the circumstances, you won't be surprised to learn that the title tackles topics like mortality and many other philosophical questions. The title manages to wring out a helluva lot of emotions in a short span of time, ranging from warm smiles and audible chuckles into less happy things like bleak sadness. One particular standout sequence involves the woman in the car sharing fables tied to constellations she created herself to her deer friend. It’s a little lighter in tone, but it packs a punch, and is delightfully sweet. All of these things build into an ending that left us feeling rather sad, but also hopeful.
Not only is the writing great, but the game manages to both convey the personality of the woman in the car, and allow her to be a projection of yourself at the same time. This impressive array of emotions paired with the title's relatively light price really allow it to shine as something worth playing, more than simply being a curiosity because of how strange an idea it is. And the cherry on top of this is the beautiful, understated score courtesy of Geoff Lentin, which allows some of the more emotional moments to punch that much harder.
Far From Noise is not a game for everyone. If you go in expecting traditional gameplay, you will be highly disappointed, but if you approach it with the understanding of it being almost like a picture book, then you will be in for a magnificently written reflection of yourself as well as musings on some of the heaviest topics about life. We went into this expecting a short title with a bizarre premise, and walked away having consumed a beautiful, occasionally melancholic story that helped us understand ourselves a little better along the way.
Brilliant review, Graham. Sounds superb, I need to get this.
I'm so buying this. Great review.
Sounds very interesting. Thank you for the review!
@gbanas92 Hey do the choices you make affect the ending?
Oh man, this will push all my buttons. I'm adding this to the list of indies I tend to splurge on with my PS vouchers I get for Christmas.
Can't wait to play this! It's been on my radar for a week or so now, since I saw the Push Square article about it. I was sincerely hoping it would review well, and here we are.
I was going to wait for a sale (as is my way) but at eight whole dollars, I just picked it up. Showing the devs some love, y'know?
Thanks for the great writeup. It's easy to make a game like this sound dull and you did quite the opposite, articulating the nuances that drive games like this, which are so often missed or unappreciated by other reviewers/gamers.
Okay, I never heard of this and need it. Thanks for the review, @gbanas92!
Definitely pick it up from the bargain bin
@belmont Not that I could see. I ran through twice, and the ending was the same as far as I could tell. Minus a couple words here and there based on different choices earlier.
@Wormold Not in a traditional sense. The dialogue choices are it.
@glassmusic Absolutely! I think it's definitely worth it's pricetag! Gald you liked the review too!
@DrJoeystein It's greatttttttt!
Anyway I went to buy the game and is 15 Euros for some reason while according to the comments here it is 8 $ in US. I checked in Steam and retails for 8 euros. Meh I guess no buy yet.
@belmont That's disappointing Everywhere I could locate it, it was $8 us. Definitely wishlist it for when it drops a bit I'd say!
@gbanas92 Yes I alredy done that. I may give up and get the Steam version for 8 euros but I would really prefer the console version.
Very good review. Never heard of this game, but now I'm very interested.
What really makes me angry is the pricing though. $7.99 in the US Store and €14,99 in the German Store plus the "German version" only has English texts. Not that I need German translation in any game, but this doesn't make any sense...
Sounds right up my alley
@SMKpaladin Agreed! That's really bizarre! Is it actually not different at all?
@gbanas92 I won't buy the game for that price but if I would, I would've to change my system's language setting to German to find out.
My guess is, they just went the lazy path and did not translate anything for the German market. Still, just a guess, but other devs went that path before.
Finally, they adjusted the price to €6,59.
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