As Far As The Eye is a beautiful turn-based strategy where you assist with the pilgrimage of your citizens, your Pupils, ensuring they escape from the imminent floods.
Using the floods as a timer to thrust you forward, you’re limited to the number of days (a.k.a. turns) until the people drown. Your position, as The Eye, is to guide them through multiple terrains, managing resources, so they have adequate supplies to face the next challenge.
As Far As The Eye Review – PC via Steam
As Far As The Eye is a lovely looking game, if a little cluttered at times. The introduction to the various menu systems is a bit overwhelming, like most strategy titles before you get going, but the HUD is presented well and doesn’t get in the way of gameplay.
Let’s cover this now though; while the menus look the part, it’s very easy to knock the cursor to the side of the screen forcing your viewpoint to move. This happens in any game of its type, but it happened too much, and wasn’t welcome when it gets busy.
As for the playing environment, it’s a tile-based, hexagon-shaped map which incorporates numerous assets such as resources. Ranging from food to raw materials, you assign your Pupils to either harvest these resources or explore the undiscovered titles.
As Far As The Eye can get hectic at times, and as you progress further onto larger maps, there will be a repeat of assets that make is hard to see what’s going on. Fortunately, there are some excellent zooming features, but sometimes getting close up on the action doesn’t make it any better. However, the graphics and use of colours are beautiful.
A turn-based game, characters use MP as their action points, and each unit a limited number for movement and actions. When those MPs have depleted, they can no longer do anything, and you end your turn.
Now would be the part where ending your turn, the enemy takes theirs, but in this scenario, the enemy is the imminent threat of a flood. At the bottom of the screen, there will be an indication of when the waters will rise, thus taking everything and everyone with them. You have to be swift.
Lead The Way
The main objective is to complete a pilgrimage and reach The Eye. From your starting point on a simple world map, you can plot out the next area, called Halts, that you wish to travel to – the caveat being you need the required resources to get there.
That means harvesting a set amount on your current Halt, and once you reach that objective, you can leave with your caravan and move on to the next one. It isn’t simple harvesting and moving on. You will need to build various structures, keep your Pupils well fed and avoid wasting resources.
Wasting resources could usually be interpreted as not building the right things or developing technology that will help you progress. In As Far As The Eye if you continually harvest and either leave materials behind or waste it, you’ll people are punished for it.
How are they punished? Vagaries. This term made me chuckle for the wrong reasons – anything with the prefix of ‘vag’ would, but they’re serious events. These vagaries will be weather conditions or curses that seriously affect your team – poisoning them, creating famine and destroying structures.
From my perspective, this was the biggest downside. As Far As The Eye is already a challenging game, but when you have these debuffs dispersed when there’s already a time limit until your demise, it makes a relatively tranquil space turn to chaos.
This experience took me back to my earlier days of playing strategy games where I would frequently save the game in fear of making a fatal mistake. A bit like placing your finger between the pages of your decisions in those Livingstone and Jackson RPG ‘Choose Your Own Adventure’ titles. Oops, that was a massive nerd declaration.
It’s not that these vagaries destroy the game so much, more that they cause frustration, and in a few situations, they felt entirely unfair.
Engaging With Your Subjects
Still, the gameplay is engaging, as it should be for a resource management title. The highlight for me would be the Pupils in the game. They start as this blank slate and as you assign them a role, then morph into an animal representing the skill they’ve been assigned. The game defines them as Metamorphs.
In addition to this change of role, they also have an individual trade wheel which is like a Catherine wheel of skills. Some of your Pupils will already have a few bonuses in a particular trade, but as they’re more exposed to the elements, they gain new perks and be assigned to specialist buildings, thus being more productive.
One of the highlights of these structures is the marketplace. Here you can exchange resources for those you lack, but usually at a bit of a detriment. It’s a good way of getting unstuck in fewer turns if you have an abundance of materials you’re not going to use – such as ore or wood.
But as touched upon earlier, part of the resource management side of things means feeding your Pupils, and they require quite a lot of food while working, plus you need a buffer for when you move onto the next Halt. If you run out of food, or the vagaries get the better of you, your Pupils return to the Sigh, which effectively means death.
It’s easy to get lost in these types of games (like Partisans 1941) – especially once you get used to all the units and structures that are covered in the opening chapters. Once you get out into the larger areas, however, the game can get quite overwhelming with the multitasking side of things. I was naive in thinking that a turn-based strategy would give me a little more time and autonomy to perfect my tasks, but in some ways, As Far As The Eye feels very urgent and erratic.
As a concept, it’s great. I love the idea of the Pupils being Metamorphs and evolving based on their role. The flood threat was a good mechanic too, but the vagaries were a little too much, and dampened the enjoyment levels, bringing out that inner teenager of “It’s not fair!” attitude.