Video games have been venturing into space for almost as long as they have graced our screens. However, I frequently find that they fail to capture the true size and importance of the universe. Too often space is used as simply a backdrop, mere context in which a game takes place. JETT: The Far Shore thankfully does not fall into this trap. Its treatment of space exploration is one of complete respect and care. It appreciates the awe and beauty of space, as well as its inherent hostility and loneliness. This was wonderfully refreshing as a fan of the science fiction genre, and my time with Jett was very enjoyable as a result.
The game begins with you: Mei, a scout for the space program, leaving your people behind and embarking on the “Mothership”. You are part of a team of explorers tasked with exploring a mysterious ocean planet – The Far Shore, in the hopes of finding a new planet to take up sanctuary. Mei’s people are on the brink of extinction, and venturing into the stars appears to be the only solution to survive. It’s also your job to uncover the source of the mystical “hymnwave”, a transmission that leads straight to The Far Shore.
Much of the game is spent flying across the beautiful landscapes of The Far Shore in a low-flying vehicle aptly named “Jett”. I have to say, exploring with the Jett is wonderfully fun. Some of my favourite moments were when I was simply skimming across ocean waves at high speed. It’s an exhilarating experience, and on the PS5, the developers make fantastic use of the controller’s haptic feedback and adaptive triggers. You’ll feel the rumble of the engine in your hands and the tension of the triggers when accelerating.
The control system, however, is slightly let down when delicate maneuvering is required. You’ll often have to slow down to a snail’s pace just to be able to make tight turns. The Jett also has a variety of tools at its disposal, such as a grappling hook, headlights and a scanner. These are all on the D-pad and can be particularly difficult to use whilst moving. Fortunately, these don’t detract too much from the experience, and after a couple of hours, you’ll be much more attuned to using them.
The story is a cinematic, linear narrative split into five acts. Over the course of the game, you and your scouting team encounter a variety of struggles. Hostile creatures, failing equipment and mystical beings known as the “kolos” are but a few you’ll face. Jett does a fantastic job of providing a sense of importance to your actions. The mission is vital for survival, and you can tell that fact is on every character’s mind. More intimate parts of the story are told through first-person sequences. Mei will have several visions throughout the game where you’ll dive deeper into the mysteries behind the hymnwave. Towards the end of the game, the narrative really widens in scope with some dramatic action segments and some heartfelt moments. But under all the mysticism and wonder, Jett is ultimately a tale of struggle and adversity. You are part of a team, that team has a mission, and that mission must be carried out at all costs.
If I had to pick one thing I love about Jett the most, it is its willingness to take things slowly. Multiple times Mei’s co-pilot, Isao, suggests that you just stop and take in your surroundings. “Let’s mark this moment,” he says as you step out onto an unknown planet for the first time. Sure, half our gear is broken, and we’re in a strange place with creatures trying to kill us, but let’s just appreciate how beautiful this is. The Far Shore really is a beautiful place as well, from colourful forests to jagged cliff faces, there are a plethora of interesting environments to explore. In a society of ever-shortening attention spans where we now skip every intro to our favourite TV shows, it’s nice to experience a game that unashamedly encourages you to just enjoy the moment you’re in. This is also helped by brilliantly immersive audio design and a fantastic original score by Scntfc.
All in all, JETT: The Far Shore is a delightfully innovative piece of work. Superbrothers have created a beautiful world with an incredible atmosphere. The controls can be fiddly, and tight maneuvering under pressure can be frustrating, but these are minor grumbles. Jett has left me with nothing but respect for these indie developers, and I can’t wait to see what they come up with next.
Developers: Superbrothers, Pine Scented
Publishers: Superbrothers A/V INC
Platforms: PS4, PS5, PC
Release Date: 5th October 2021
Gaming Respawn’s copy of JETT: The Far Shore was provided by the publisher.