Feature Art

Preview – Passing By: A Tailwind Journey [Demo] PC

This is a tough one. The idea of exploring mysterious floating islands downwind on a skyship without the ability to return really sounds quite enchanting – a leap of faith into the unknown that plays into the classic tripe of 2D side-scrollers that there is only ‘forward’. One can only hope that the stations ahead will hold the resources needed to survive and continue the journey. Knowing that every connection you make on the way will forever remain memories. Truly a perfect metaphor for this destination-less travel, presenting an ambivalent mix of fear and curiosity. The problem, however, is that the demo for Passing By simply doesn’t do its concept justice.

A miniscule array of locations resulting in an ocean of copy-pasted areas to ‘explore’, robs the player of the sense of discovery. This, mixed with a lack of purpose, immediately turns the demo into a drag by forcing the player to keep stopping for food, water, and fuel at the same old places. I believe there needs to be a much grander world full of surprises to support aimless wandering, or, on the other hand, it should lean into the survival aspect and create urgency around the gathering and usage of limited supplies. Sadly, the demo does neither.

And whilst it does look great with its colourful faux-3D papercraft environments, the little frustrations of clambering around the ship with awkward controls and the sheer lack of anything to actually do unfortunately hijacks the experience. I want to encounter interesting people scattered all throughout this impossible world, I want more puzzles than the single one I found on the only captivating site I found, and I want a goal, even a vague one, to at least direct me. Give me purpose to explore the more challenging higher/lower elevations. I see a spark here, but it is currently at the end of a deep, deep tunnel.