Jett: The Far Shore Review (PS5)
Jett: The Far Shore stages a dramatic and grandiose scene. You play as Mei, a member of a team that aims to preserve humanity by following the call of the mysterious “hymnwave” to a new world. The first moments of the game set an emotional and epic tone as you and your party say goodbye to loved ones, board a ship, and fall into a cryogenic sleep for the thousand-year journey to this distant planet. It’s an effective start that sets up an exciting adventure. Unfortunately, like the titular jetts, the game never takes off very far.
Much of the gameplay places you inside a jett, a low-altitude, high-speed ship used to explore and gather information about your new surroundings. While piloting this ship, the camera zooms out to highlight the scale of the planet, giving you a good view of the surroundings as well. Getting around in this nimble little thing is a lot of fun; flying this low gives you a good sense of speed, and maneuvers like jumping and barrel rolling allow you (most of the time) to move skillfully through terrain and threats.
The on-board equipment includes a scanner with which to document flora and fauna, a clamp for picking up and throwing objects, and a light primarily used to elicit a reaction from life forms. Everything has a purpose, but you’ll use the scanner the most due to its color-coded “resonator” that will lead you to certain objectives, as well as plants that will propel you into the air and places to build shelters.
When you are allowed to explore, the game settles into a relaxing pace. It’s when you just move around the world, adaptive triggers alert you to overheating, and atmospheric soundtrack overwhelms you, that gaming is at its best. Unfortunately, the planet is often hostile to you and you will have to evade threats from wildlife and the environment itself as you complete your missions.
These moments lead to some frustration, as dealing with chasing enemies is never just a nuisance. To keep them at bay you’ll often need to find certain things in the world, but nothing particularly stands out against the environment, making it difficult to find useful resources. Pair this with your co-pilot’s frequent radio conversations and the “fight” sequences quickly become a weak spot in the experience. The coined language means that you rely on subtitles, and it is difficult to read them while searching for specific plants while too run away from the bad guys.
The game isn’t just about those jetted trips, however. Often times, you’ll come back down to your team base and tell everyone about your shared experiences. This brings the action to a much slower first-person perspective, and you’re often free to wander around the building and find people to talk to. All the characters speak with a serious, almost ostentatious tone; we wouldn’t say the cast is emotionless, but everything is played out with a straight face. It lends itself to the atmosphere of the game at large, but it makes it difficult to bond with anyone. The moments that should touch your heart probably won’t, because you’re not really getting to know someone well.
Some of the more dramatic and intense parts of the game are certainly interesting and feel like they’re heading for a decisive end. Unfortunately, the story is really not going anywhere. There’s a big final “battle”, so to speak, but it’s as frustrating as any other perilous point in the game, and you’ll be relieved when it’s over. The actual ending feels very dull, especially since some things remain mostly unexplained. It’s a shame the story doesn’t stack up, as the basic premise is solid and the jet flight gameplay is engaging, especially when paired with the right music.
On PS5, load times don’t really exist in Jett: The Far Shore, and the DualSense is used very well, with convenient use of triggers and nice haptic sensations. It runs at 60 frames per second most of the time, but can drop down depending on what’s happening on the screen. We also have to mention that we encountered a couple of bugs, such as the landscape clipping, but these were very rare.
Although he presents himself well and has some great ideas, Jett: The Far Shore never goes for the stars. Flying, soaking up the atmosphere, and gathering information on an alien planet is a relaxing pleasure, but it’s marred by messy combat scenarios and a story that falls flat. You can get some pleasure out of it, just like its moments – don’t expect it to reach the stratosphere.