Quick Look – Faraway: Puzzle Escape (#JustOnePercent 7/100)

Developer: Pine Studio

Release Date: March 5, 2021

MSRP: $4.99

I am not the biggest fan of atmospheric first person puzzlers – Myst frustrated the hell out of me as a teenager, and there’s never been a game in this style that has drawn me in enough to make me reconsider. Faraway: Puzzle Escape is definitely inspired by Myst and its sequels. You play as a nameless explorer, revisiting an area your father had previously explored before going missing. Now, the game doesn’t tell you this in so many words, but the game’s website does.

The game’s description on the publishers website.

There are letters you can pick up on all of the levels, which give you the barest whisper of a background story, but I’ll confess that after the first couple, I decided I didn’t much care for the letter-writer (sorry, Dad!), and stopped actively looking for them. They don’t really provide any clues to the puzzles, and – at least for me – added nothing to the experience. In fact, the very first one I found led me pretty far astray, until I finally gave up and consulted a walk-through. As it turns out, there is no “secret” entrance, there is a door right in front of you, and you can’t just click on it to proceed; instead you must hold and drag the handle.

That was the point when I realized this game had been designed for mobile devices and touchscreens. I didn’t find the controls confusing or awkward once I realized that, it just wasn’t what I was expecting. In fact, Faraway: Puzzle Escape has four sequels, available on both Android and iPhone, so for folks who are a big fan of low-poly first person puzzlers, that’s a pretty meaty catalog.

I played up until the tenth level (out of twenty), and the puzzles aren’t terribly difficult or original. There’s a lot of “find this object to unlock this other object” and a lot of “memorize this pattern and use it somewhere else”. I didn’t have any really satisfying “Aha!” moments, and needed to consult the walkthrough a few more times on my way through (although never for the actual solution to a puzzle – only to figure out what exactly the game was expecting me to do).

Both the graphics and the music are serviceable, but not memorable. In fact, I played over two sessions, and for the second one, I didn’t even bother to put on my headphones. If there is any compelling reason to have audio on, I didn’t find it – there don’t seem to be any puzzles that include audio cues of any sort. The letters (there are three per level) are voice acted adequately. Movement and puzzle controls are what you would expect from a mobile port, and overall, I found the entire experience to be almost unremarkable.

Even if Faraway: Puzzle Escape is precisely the kind of game you enjoy, there are many better options on PC, and probably on mobile as well. I knew before even installing the game that this one was probably going to be Not For Me, but since I received it free from Prime Gaming back in May of 2021, I couldn’t see any reason not to give it a whirl. I’m highly unlikely to revisit this one – I have plenty of puzzle games to play that are far more to my personal tastes than this one.

SteamDB estimates that Faraway: Puzzle Escape has sold somewhere between 900 and 2,500 copies on Steam, giving it a ranking of 6,172 out of 10,967 Steam releases in 2021.

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