Game: Sail Forth
Genre: Action, Adventure, Indie, Simulation
System: Switch (Also available for Steam, PS4, PS5, Xbox One, Xbox Series S/X, and Epic Games)
Developer | Publisher: Festive Vector | The Quantum Astrophysicists Guild
Age Rating: US E 10+ | EU 7+
Price: US $19.99 | UK £16.75 | EU € 19,49
Release Date: December 21st, 2022
Review code used, with many thanks to Stride PR.
Sail Forth is a sailing sim where players take to the wide-open oceans looking for crewmates, maps, treasure, and adventure. You must survive battling against pirates, taking on dangerous weather, and even hiring new boats to join your fleet.
The Gameplay of Sail Forth
Sail Forth manages to balance on the knife’s edge between sailing realism and fun. It is incredibly difficult to make sailing interesting, detailed, and realistic while your game still feels like a game and not a chore. Players raise and lower sails with a single button, and they can tack the sails to help keep them aimed in the right way for the wind.
The whole motion of sailing is deeply simplified; if you are looking for a Microsoft Flight Sim level of detail, you won’t get it here. Instead, this cartoonish game focuses on players getting from one place to another through trials and tribulations. You can’t even get off of the ship; players must interact with people and things on the shore by shooting at them or hitting the yell button to shout across the water.
Players pick up maps along the way that lead them to new locations with new treasures, more materials, and the ability to shop and upgrade parts of their ships and fleets.
Sail Forth is Rife With Goofy Humor
Sail Forth is one of those games that embraces a jokey sort of humour, filling in the little gaps between things happening at sea with funny asides. For example, the name of the main character is Captain Toot. It’s not humour to my taste, but it was a little amusing to see how the developers attempted to add little bits of fun into some of the sailing, which could become a little monotonous without it.
But that was part of the issue I had with this game; there was a lot of open world to sail through, but not much to break it up. The islands were pretty scattered, and there was a lot of time just moving from one place to another. Thankfully, you unlock fast travel as soon as you get close enough to a place, so you never have to traverse the big blue on foot so-to-speak unless you really want to.
How to Play Sail Forth
There are a lot of activities, and players come across NPCs that need help. These little side missions are all there is to the game; there does not appear to be a main quest line that you need to follow to finish. So, you can play however you want to play. Fight pirates, find treasure, or sail around and chat with people. It’s a chill game with a lot of cruising around and doing whatever.
I like that aspect of the game; Sail Forth is a true open-world game. You can just go without anything to stop you. In this way, it feels like an Elden Ring or a Breath of the Wild. But there is something about that falls a little flat for me.
Why is This Boat So Hard to Steer?
For most of my Captain career, I found myself asking the Switch “What am I stuck on?” The boat’s movement is a little bit unwieldy, which is to be expected cause it’s a boat. But if you have ever been on a small boat like this, you know you must navigate tight places with oars. Or you don’t use the big boat at all; you instead leave the big boat where it won’t run aground and row out in a much small vessel that is attached to the big boat.
But in Sail Forth, players have to get pretty close to shore in their vessel, regardless of size, to shoot pirate homes and loot. It’s a little like trying to drive an RV into a gas station parking lot for the first time; I’m not good at it, and there is a learning curve I wasn’t quite prepared for.
In addition, I was a little curious to see if anyone else had the problems I did, and it seems that Sail Forth has fallen into the same trap as many other games have before it: porting non-Switch games to the Switch is hard. The Switch is so completely different to control and use than a PC or PS5 or an Xbox Series S or X that a game not designed for it specifically can fail spectacularly.
Based on the PC reviews I’ve read for Sail Forth, it seems like many of the awkward movements might come from the Joy-Cons’ limitations.
Sail Forth is not for me. But I think it is a great game for what it is trying to do. Overall, the game is cute, humorous in a child-friendly way, and filled with open-world sailing adventure. It’s Windbound without all the survival and debarking from the boat stuff that I loved about Windbound, just leaving the kind of boring sail mixed with some awkward combat. But it has loads of auto options and tons of accessibility options for players to make Sail Forth their own, and that’s something I love a lot.
However, I think that someone who is a fan of this sort of sailing game would love it much more than I ever could.
Final Verdict: I Like it.