Estimated reading time: 6 minutes
As Far As The Eye by developer Unexpected Studios is a turn-based strategy roguelike game that does not include combat elements. It’s a beautiful-looking title with plenty of relaxing gameplay elements. However, after playing the game on the Nintendo Switch I find that while I like the concept of it, the game is frustrating. And I became aggravated with it as time went on. It has some flaws dear readers.
Upon beginning the game, players learn the general concept of As Far As The Eye. We must save the pupils from an impending flood. In order to escape it, they have to make a break for the ‘Eye’. To successfully do so, players must collect as many resources as they can carry without wasting materials. It gives off the vibe of a spiritual journey a la Syberia but is much less interesting.
Unlike other strategy games, As Far As The Eye’s mantra is ‘less is more.’ Players that stockpile too many resources, not only need to Tetris the supplies in the caravan but are penalized for wasting resources. As the flood inches closer, the game throws a ton of natural disasters like lightning, curses, and rodent infestations. The only exception to this mantra is perhaps in the case of food where it can be challenging to have too much. At times players have four mouths to feed which requires most of the tribe to maintain a steady supply. Not to mention the fact that players must complete the settlement or ‘halt’ goal to progress. As Far As The Eye is not for the faint of heart.
While the concept is intriguing, the methods players employ to achieve their goal is frustrating. For instance, a campaign level requires a farm, a bakery, and a pepkin harvester to achieve the minimum food supply needed. The fourth pupil is tasked with gathering EVERYTHING ELSE. Normally that wouldn’t be an issue except the fourth pupil cannot do anything without a place to sleep! It’s logical, but micromanaging supplies while staving off hunger is brutal. Plus, you have to assign a pupil to build the camp! Otherwise, you forget that you still need to harvest ore, wool, and trees to continue. After failing to complete this campaign I gave up. Between the turn restriction, minimal workers, and multiple tasks, I found the game to be more frustrating than XCOM 2. Yet, despite the challenge the game poses, those pale in comparison to something even more aggravating; the UI is terrible.
Graphics and UI
Let’s begin there, shall we?
My biggest gripe with the Nintendo Switch port is the terrible UI layout. I’m not sure I can begin to describe my dislike for it yet here we are. Once players get four pupils, it’s challenging to keep track of their tasks. Again that one mission had two pupils with blue balloons which often confused me. In open-world or custom maps, they can get lost in the graphics. Literally. Yet, this is the nicest of the frustrations because navigating the menus is a pain. When building structures, it’s hard to see the ‘build’ button at the top of the screen in a tiny box. Never fear though, players can dismantle structures, but good luck finding that option! Sadly, this is rather common with game ports. Menu navigation on the Switch is often irritating, which is a shame since the game is wonderful otherwise.
Besides the layout of the game menus, the overall graphics are gorgeous. As Far As The Eye is vibrant and randomly generated (aside from the campaign missions), allowing for excellent replayability. Each map has a hexagonal grid and is littered with resources like pepkin patches, fish ponds, and heavily forested areas. Some maps will hinder progress with shrines that protect the area. This is illustrated through the use of a purple sparkling aura. While it is pretty, too much of a good thing makes gameplay more challenging on a small Nintendo Switch screen. I can’t deny that the graphics of As Far As The Eye are breathtaking but players need to be able to see what they’re doing!
Pros and Cons
Breaking the game down into core positive and negative points I would say:
- The game concept is intriguing and fun, allowing for hours of challenging scenarios
- Graphically vibrant and beautiful
- Gameplay is easy to understand once you figure out the UI
- The ‘less is more’ strategy helps players effectively reach their goals
That said, there are some flaws with the game.
- The UI is abysmal on the Nintendo Switch. The popups are too small, menus often glitch to permanently stick over the top of an area, and some of the menu prompts are located unintuitively.
- Tutorial or campaign levels have too much text
- There doesn’t appear to be a way to see disaster history during a session
- Gameplay is often reliant on luck as opposed to skill
- Sometimes passing turns makes the game dull
As Far As The Eye is a neat game that doesn’t require any form of combat, but I find that it’s not implemented as well as it could be. I spent a ton of time trying to maneuver through the strange UI menus that hindered gameplay more than it should have. The text is way too small for the Nintendo Switch screen. Even though I generally had a decent experience with the title, I would love a section where players could learn more about the lore of the game. I feel that there isn’t enough substance to really make it stand out.
I like As Far As The Eye in terms of its concept and curious lore, but found that there wasn’t enough for me to really get into it. Despite having no combat, gameplay is reduced to passing time which fails to grip players. The success of one’s journey is dictated by a luck of the draw. Starvation is often the worst offender in the pupil’s survival but adding natural disasters and curses in the mix made the game much more interesting.Score: 8 / 10