Released at the very end of 2022, Sail Forth is a game with a familiar premise. What isn’t quite as familiar is just how well done, and fun, the sailing mechanics are. Enough beating around the bush, obviously the game appears similar to 2002’s The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker. It’s one of my personal favorite games, but even I can acknowledge that the sailing mechanics offer little depth. Naturally, Sail Forth focuses entirely on being in a boat and it does it near perfectly.
Story | A Pirate’s Life for Me
Sail Forth doesn’t feature a particularly deep story. It’s unintrusive, but still interesting enough to keep you moving. There are, however, plenty of short little quests to occupy yourself with along the way. You deliver packages and rescue other sailors. Sometimes you’ll even help reopen a shop captured by pirates. I won’t go into it too much more, but you’ll be fighting a lot of pirates.
Gameplay | Smooth Sailing (For the Most Part)
The gameplay in Sail Forth is remarkably fun. As I said earlier, I really enjoyed the sailing in Wind Waker, but this is just so much better. It really feels like you’re at the mercy of the wind. Some may not enjoy that, but needing to change course now and again helps you to discover new places. While I’ve heard reports of the occasional bug, the only issue I encountered was the occasional odd hitbox on islands. There were times where I got stuck in places that didn’t make much sense to me.
As for battling pirates (and, really, just about anyone you want), it’s simple. You hold down the left trigger and you’ll be shown the range of all equipped weapons. Just aim at whatever you want to hit and the game will select the cannon automatically.
Designing your Dinghy
As for customization, you have plenty of options. You can customize the colors and flags of your fleet for free at shops across the ocean. And the boats you can collect are all unique in that they have different stats. Some boats are faster but can hold fewer weapons. Other boats will have plenty of weapon slots, but a low weight limit. There are a ton of fun ways you can customize your fleet to fit not only your aesthetic, but your playstyle as well.
The Open Sea
By far the biggest issue I has with Sail Forth was its open world. Now, I absolutely love that it’s an open world. What I don’t like is the loading screens between different parts of the world. See, each time you travel between areas on the map, you’ll get a thankfully very brief loading screen. It’s by no means a deal breaker, but it can take you out of the game sometimes.
Graphics & Sound | Sailor’s Delight
The graphics are generally charming, but nothing to write home about. Everything looks great, but there’s nothing that’ll make you say “wow.” But, every so often, you’ll be sailing and realize just how beautiful the world looks. It’s typically during sunrise or sunset that you’ll notice this. The game truly does look amazing at times.
In terms of the soundtrack, it reminds me of The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild. It’s just an occasional melody with you hearing the sound of the ocean and the chatter of your crew mostly. There is music for the big moments, like battles, but I really enjoy the lowkey-ness of the sound design.
Accessibility | Eyepatches Welcome
I am pleased to say that there are a good amount of accessibility options in Sail Forth! You can have certain mechanics turned off / taken care of automatically; there’s a colorblind mode. Additionally, everything can be remapped to whatever button you’d like.
There’s also a free sail mode, which allows you to choose an area of the map and fight pirates with a ship you design.
Conclusion | The World is Your Oyster
Sail Forth is a game that I personally have been looking for since I first played Wind Waker. It’s got everything I loved to do in that game and more. Your enjoyment of it will likely come down to whether or not you’re looking for a deep story. Because, while there’s not much of a plot, Sail Forth is without a doubt one of the best games the Switch has to offer in terms of gameplay. Oh, and like every game from the past few years, you can go fishing.
Sail Forth was reviewed on Nintendo Switch with key provided by StridePR