I mean, it sounds a lot like how I felt about Sword & Sworcery.
It does sound fascinating. I wish I’d just grabbed it when it had that generous launch discount.
One time when the game studio I worked at was trying to come up with new, relatively small narrative games (“our Firewatch” was kind of the mandate), I pitched a game about driving, picking up passengers, and dialoguing with them while you drove calmly down the highway. No racing, no crashes… the driving would just be that thing to keep your hands occupied while you digested these characters’ stories. There’ve been some taxi/uber games recently that ran with this idea. Anyway, sounds like what Jett is doing too?
Definitely fill us in on the new content when you have played it!
I would say that the distances between the locations you travel to are perhaps too short for any substantial ‘keep your hands occupied’ kind of conversation and a lot of it is mostly related to the task at hand. The more personal and introspective conversations are done face-to-face which, to be honest, I think is a saving grace given the cognitive load of carrying out objectives while piloting a very fast jett! If the locations were further apart and the travel more uneventful (and the dialogue in a language you can understand by listening!) then perhaps some of those deeper conversations could have fit into the piloting segments.
So after ‘completing’ Returnal I have returned to Jett to explore the Given Time expansion and… wow, this is basically what The Far Shore flirted with. It’s more open and crucially quieter allowing the whole thing to just… breath. You get a much better sense of why all these details, mechanics and systems were put into The Far Shore in the first place. There you kind of rushed past them but here you’ve time to explore and understand them properly. I like that you have to discover how to do stuff, whether that’s by observation and experimentation or scanning things and reading the data entries on them. I’ve had a few ‘aha!’ moments which was a lovely surprise given the do-this-do-that nature of the base game. It’s still a bit wobbly and tricky in places but I feel like this is the Superbrothers making good on the promise or potential of The Far Shore. Will return with my final thoughts once I finish it off!
It’s been a hectic week but on Monday night I finished Given Time. Experiencing both the base game and the expansion very close to each other has been fascinating because they feel like they’ve been designed with wildly different philosophies in mind.
The Far Shore sets the stage, building drama and these heavy existential stakes, delivering set-pieces and moments while you get to know the characters. There’s momentum and an almost overbearing sense of urgency. It’s full speed with your scramjets threatening to blow. Throughout it you’ll catch the shape of a game but rarely get the chance to indulge in it. Then it ends.
Given Time, due to it being more open, relaxed and play-oriented, loses some of that. I got more ‘game’; more discovery, more exploration and experimentation, more puzzling out solutions but at the expense of the story beats that gave The Far Shore its weight, sense of urgency and momentum. On that front the narrative didn’t hold me like it did. However, it was a joy to finally be able to indulge in the game that was previously squeezed in between all the narrative bits. There’s a surprisingly expressive set of elements, systems/mechanics here, and Given Time tries to capitalise on a lot of them (I wish there had been a segment on vapour sauma luring/baiting). When you start to get better with the jett it’s such a fast and graceful thing to pilot, and gorgeous to behold against the game’s striking backdrops. You can totally see how games like MotorStorm: Pacific Rift, Flower, Metroid: Prime and Waking Mars influenced this.
If you’ve got a lot of patience, love big picture sci-fi and games that challenge you then Jett: The Far Shore + Given Time is definitely worth checking out.