“Surrounded by Miracles, Touched by Fear” is a line from Jett: The Far Shores Scriptures. These scriptures lead Mei, the protagonist, and penetrate every aspect of the game. Practical enough the quote is a fitting description of my time at Jett, and not always for the best of reasons. Some narrative moments peak, though the title’s boring gameplay kept crashing me.
Jett begins in a world on its last legs where residents realize they are doomed. The adventure begins powerfully as I listen to the grief of my people knowing that I will not share their fate. I am also weighed down by their hope that my search will save part of civilization. In search of solace in religion, people cling to the idea that my crew’s prophesied scientific and spiritual mission across the galaxy will save humanity from utter annihilation. The narrative never explains what caused my home The sad fate of the world, but it uses excellent visual storytelling to fill in the gaps. Chimneys choke the sky around you and smear the landscape with smog and soot. The gloomy spectacle brilliantly outlines one reason for the crisis: unchecked industrialization. In a somberly ironic way, it suggests that the factories that make your planet-escape technology are killing the ones that remain, adding the guilt of some acute survivors.
The stylized, minimalist graphics of the world make for a distinctive and beautiful look, especially at key moments like the start of your crew when the horizon blends beautifully to the stars. Jett has a specific, retro-futuristic design. This style works because you take the past with you through time and space. While Chapter 0, a kind of prologue, contains rousing goodbyes and thought-provoking imagery, the rest of Jett struggles to keep up.
After I made my way to the “other bank”, a legendary place that is described in the sacred texts, those of my scout team Adventure quickly went from delightful to dangerous. After being exposed to the extraterrestrial elements and touched by a mysterious presence, I began to see things. When I passed out after an accident, I had a wild dream of my village with shadowy figures instead of people. But the visions didn’t end when I woke up and I began to see signals on the ground that my crew members couldn’t. These signs let me know when I was able to interact with something, for example when I was using my ship to make flowers bloom. Although these exposure-driven illusions lead to a number of wonderfully strange sequences, the story ultimately does not lead to a satisfactory result.
Much of the game takes place on your jett, a two-person super vehicle that allows you to float through the surroundings. Unfortunately, the strong imagery from the first section of the game is lost when flying. The reduced art style in these sequences makes the world look like inconspicuous blocks of color. As a result, the characters’ reactions to the visually empty – but supposedly impressive – world are staggering. I found it difficult to gauge my speed as there are few landmarks in the area, and I felt more like a beetle buzzing around the screen than an interplanetary scout traveling at super speed.
It never feels good to pilot your jet. The camera is centered in the middle of the screen, not on the vehicle, so it is difficult to move around and see where you are going at the same time. I have become frustrated several times when performing delicate operations such as walking in the shadows to take cover or letting go of gripped objects to aim because the controls are awkward. In addition, the game painstakingly restricts flying at full speed. You need to keep a constant eye on a meter to make sure you’re not driving too fast for too long so you don’t overheat and blow out your motors.
Getting off the ship is also an attempt. Every time my character’s feet hit the ground I feel like I am wading through pudding. And the interactions outside the jet, which often include dialogue filled with exposure, are rarely noteworthy enough to compensate for the arduous traversal. A lot of these issues aren’t game-breaking mistakes in and of themselves, but Jett has so many minor annoyances that they make exploring a chore, which is a shame for a game about space exploration.
Jett: The Far Shore shines brightly in some narrative sections, and its graphics can be impressive, however – despite full start Potential – it doesn’t do what it says on the tin. Unfortunately, much like my time spent piloting his interstellar spacecraft, Jett’s finale feels more unfulfilled than thoughtful.