This isn't a review of Jett: The Far Shore. I set out to review the game, its appearances during multiple PlayStation streaming events elevating it to "interesting" status. It's also by Superbrothers, the small team behind indie hit Superbrothers: Sword & Sworcery EP. It looked… good.
So why isn't this a review of Jett: The Far Shore? Simple. I got bored of the gameplay and surprisingly dull world of this jet-based exploration game before I reached the end. I found the whole thing rather tedious, and for me, it’s the biggest disappointment of the year. I called it a day on the game's penultimate chapter.
For the majority of Jett you are inside a sort of hover plane - a jett from the game's title. As Mei, you must explore a new world, scanning its many items of interest and performing necessary tasks to progress the story. Sadly, the jett is the very worst thing about the game.
You'd think that nipping about an unexplored world in a ship that can handle all kinds of terrain, pop into the air, and grab items with a grappling hook, would be fun. It is not. Due to a deadly combination of the ship either moving at a crawl or at breakneck speed, terrible maneuverability, and a camera that likes to repeatedly distance itself, simply flying around is often extremely frustrating.
One area in particular makes you pick up and launch a bomb-like item at a wall. I can't think of another time in my video game playing life in which I've experienced such frustration. I've had better gameplay experiences with cloud gaming under serious lag.
Although a very different game with what I assume was a significantly larger budget, Ubisoft's Starlink handles the movement of this kind of aircraft quite wonderfully. The ships in Starlink are fast yet agile. The jett feels designed to get stuck on scenery, such is the frequency I did just that, bouncing between trees like a lost pinball.
Jett makes a fairly big deal about its thrust system, eventually letting you use vapour to cool your engines and keep up your top speed, but rarely are you encouraged to actually zoom about outside of the intro and a few tutorials. Generally you're hovering about drab environments searching for things like an 10-year-old on a Geography field trip who just wants to be home playing Fortnite.
When I wasn't piloting the only vehicle with worse handling than the Ever Given container ship, I was trying my best to enjoy the first-person sequences that occur occasionally when you land. These are extremely linear moments where almost nothing happens, but they are better than the core gameplay experience. They also look pretty stylish and striking at times, which is more than can be said for the jett-based world exploration.
The world you explore in Jett has all the wonder of a demolition site that's been spruced up by a ring of flowers in the center. It's as if the entire planet was made up of supermarket car parks built on mountains and flood zones, the occasional florist somehow surviving the apocalypse.
After seeing glimpses of Jett I really wanted to enjoy it, but it's a game that hurts itself at every turn. There's' a fair bit of dialogue to take in while you play, but the game uses a made up language alongside subtitles. I simply couldn't concentrate on maneuvering the jett and read all the subtitles, so I'd either miss conversations or have to stop still. The made up language might be an incredible feat of linguistics, but it does not help make Jett a fun game to play.
At points you're being told about what to do to escape from a hostile creature (you can't fight back in Jett), but you can only read this while failing to escape. It's ridiculous. The same is true of general game advancement, forcing me to piece together what has been going on by heading to the game's data archive.
I'm pretty shocked that Jett: The Far Shore rubbed me the wrong way in such an extreme fashion. It turns out that it's pretty much the exact opposite to what I want from a game, and to be honest I'm pretty sad about that.
Given that I stopped towards the end of the penultimate chapter, there is a chance that Jett turns things around somewhat, but to be honest I'm impressed I stuck with it as long as I did. Have a long think about Jett: The Far Shore before you hastily hand over the asking price. This isn't a game that feels good to play. It might well have something to say if you can see it through, but I really don't think it's worth your time.
Disclaimer: Tested on PS5, with a copy of the game provided by the publisher. Also available on PS4 and PC.