By Marty Mulrooney
Far from Noise is “a single-player narrative told through dialogue choices” created and independently released by developer George Batchelor, a programmer at State of Play Games (Lumino City). Taking place on a cliff edge, players take control of a young woman trapped in a precariously balanced, old rusting car.
Far from Noise is incredibly difficult to review in regular video game terms. It’s essentially a 90 minute long, semi-interactive conversation. There is only one location and the player character is never shown. If you hated ‘walking simulators’ like Gone Home, The Vanishing of Ethan Carter and Everybody’s Gone to the Rapture, it’s highly likely you’ll take nothing away from the ‘talking simulator’ that is Far from Noise.
However, those who are willing to try something a bit different – and don’t mind more artistic, experimental gaming experiences – could do far worse than climbing into this game’s rusty old car and striking up a conversation with a passing philosophical deer. And, despite said car never driving a single mile on-screen… this is a game all about the journey. It goes places.
Even though Far from Noise takes place in just one location, it’s absolutely teeming with character and life. As the story moves forward, the sun sets and night-time arrives; the day-to-night cycle is truly impressive and gives each scene its own unique flavour. The dreamlike graphics have a distinct Firewatch vibe which is beautiful to behold, and the charming musical score by Geoff Lentin flows effortlessly.
Yet the most impressive thing about Far from Noise is the superb writing. The game essentially shows dialogue (text) coming from the woman in the car, with the player presented with a few options to choose from every so often. The clever thing about the writing is that it allows you to find out more about the nameless woman and relate to her, while also letting you put your own stamp on her personality.
Far from Noise will make players think about some pretty big ideas, such as what it means to be lonely and the contrasting concepts of life and death. The experience could have ended up feeling pretentious in lesser hands; instead, it’s incredibly relaxing and pleasantly thought-provoking throughout.
Of course, the idea of a talking deer is pretty out-there, but it allows the game to develop in some really interesting ways. It’s also impressive how the game constantly makes you worry about the car tipping off the edge of the cliff; it almost seems like certain responses cause it to wobble more than others. Just wait until the thunderstorm arrives…
Costing only £5.99 in the UK, Far from Noise is a beautiful, delightful little video game that deserves to be discovered by as wide an audience as possible. Apparently it has multiple endings based on the decisions you make, but it feels like such a personal experience that I imagine many gamers will simply play it once before leaving it to linger in their memory, like a hazy summer afternoon long since past.
8 OUT OF 10