Since this review was originally published, a patch has reportedly addressed one or more of the issues cited below. While we unfortunately cannot revisit games on an individual basis, it should be noted that the updated game may offer a much-improved experience over the one detailed below.
Promoted as a nomadic city-builder with roguelite elements, As Far As The Eye promises to scratch a lot of itches. It caught our attention as an intriguing spin on hex-based Civilization-style strategy when it released on Switch two weeks ago, so we had to check out what looked to be a soothing indie darling with mobile origins. Unfortunately, despite a handful of unique ideas, a wealth of technical issues has buried this otherwise competent strategy game – buried it so thoroughly we cannot, in good conscience, recommend it to anyone in its launch state.
First impressions are good, mind; As Far As Your Eye immediately captivates with its aesthetic. The hexagonal grid for each journey comes in pastel oranges, greens, and blues, while the little characters called Pupils elicit jovial feelings with the adorable animal forms they morph into when assigned a specific job. Gentle music accompanies these calming visuals, enough that a half an hour with the game could help put you to bed after a stressful day.
This chill aesthetic does not extend to gameplay, however. Each round of As Far As The Eye plays as a race against a clock – or in this case, a massive, all-consuming wave. Your trio of Pupils must gather the correct resources to move their caravan along to the next halt before that wave comes and wipes them all out with the eventual goal of reaching the safety of the Eye. This might require a Pupil to level up a particular skill (Gathering, Trapping, etc.), accumulate a certain number of resources, or make a handful of potions. Depending on the procedurally generated map, these requirements might take no time at all, leaving the Pupils with some room to prepare for later halts or having them scamper to collect food so they don’t starve.
The sheer number of different resources and buildings to harvest them overwhelmed us at first. This isn’t a game you can jump into without a proper introduction. As Far As The Eye provides a five-part campaign that in reality acts as a tutorial, slowly introducing concepts piece-by-piece. It’s unfortunate, then, that we also found the tutorial incredibly monotonous. There is little impactful gameplay to be had; info-dumps abound. And the Eye forbid we made a mistake – the tutorial had no autosave feature, making us mash through information we already knew if we tripped up.
An atrocious UI compounded this monotony. We fought more with the control scheme than we did with the complicated mechanics. Clearly, this was a game designed for a mouse or a touch screen with little change made for controllers. Selecting a Pupil with the D-pad, opening the build menu with ‘Y’, selecting to build a Pasture with ‘X’, frustrated us with how unintuitive it was. Worse, the cursor doesn’t update in real-time, meaning even if a Pupil finished building a quarry, the tool-tip on the left-hand side of the screen would still display the build as in-progress. In the tutorial, this caused us no small amount of confusion.
But with the campaign-disguised-as-a-tutorial out of the way, we were excited to jump into the meat of the game – Quick Game. The Quick Game option offers four tiers of challenges to unlock in the form of different tribes beginning their journey from different biomes. We dived into a game as the initial West Tribe and, after failing to make it far, began to find our groove and started to quite enjoy the gameplay loop.
As Far As The Eye strikes a great balance with its procedurally generated maps, never making the options available feel unfair, yet maintaining a constant feeling of mild panic. Vagaries happen periodically that might see rodents sweep through and eat stores of wool that were needed to advance to the next halt. Lightning may strike and damage buildings. The maps are littered with old ruins to discover with any number of beneficial or detrimental effects, and caravans of other Pupils periodically stop by to offer their support or to trade.
Yet as we began understanding what As Far As The Eye truly had to offer, it crashed. When we reloaded, determined to ensure our Pupils made it to the safety of the Eye, the game crashed again. And upon another reload, we were unable to move the cursor. Subsequent games had the same problems. Much like the massive wave coming to wash all the Pupils away, we couldn’t make it through a single run without ‘The software closed because an error occurred’ coming for us.
We reached out via PR to find out more and were told that the developer is aware of issues and is working on a patch, although no time scale was given. At the time of writing, the game has been live on Switch eShop for over two weeks but we were unable to finish a run. We never saw what difficulties the North Tribe faced, nor could we play as the South or East tribes that would surely have challenged our resource-managing skills.
In its launch state on Switch, much of As Far As The Eye is unplayable. For us, neither Quick Game or Custom Matches would last long before we got booted to the Switch’s dashboard. We waited several days for some kind of update to fix both the UI and the egregious crashes and get a better idea of a game that is not without promise, but a patch still hasn’t arrived at the time of writing. If or when one does come, As Far As The Eye has the potential to become an intriguing little strategy game with that Civilization-style ‘just one more turn’ effect. But for now, do not get sucked in by its soothing mood and the cute little Pupils.