FAR CRY 5: When Form Conflicts with Tone
I loved my time playing Far Cry 5. I thought the world was beautifully crafted and that the Seed family was believable as antagonists. The improvements which Ubisoft made towards streamlining the player experience and rewarding exploration felt great. Without needing to unlock areas through towers, as had become a staple, the player was rewarded through investigation. In all of my 15 hours with the game, enough to get through the plotline and explore the map, I adored all the carnage put at my disposal.
The problem with Far Cry 5’s tone
THAT SAID, once I’d completed the game, I realized that there was something unnerving about my whole experience with the game. I started to think back on particular moments which bothered me in my playthrough.
See, I compliment the villains of the series, but that comes with a caveat. The Seed family was ominous, their motivations felt real. The alienation which the underbosses working under Joseph Seed (The Father) exposed to the MC and their subsequent manipulation was well written. Without getting into spoilers for those who have yet to beat the game, Far Cry 5’s villains rely a bit too much on the “magic powder” gimmick to get a hold of the MC. While that isn’t new at all to the Far Cry series, it should have been utilized less often. While these cutscenes were well paced, there was something off about the continuous escape of one person against a cult of manipulators. This was particularly aggravating once you’d killed most of Joseph’s entourage, and he still appeared to give the MC an ‘out’.
Which leads me to comment that there was something really off about the tone in Far Cry 5. The Far Cry formula has always been about excessive violence, over the top stunts and unpredictability. Hell, their slogan, ‘Anything can happen, everything will’ captures that formula perfectly. It was just a real shame to see them stick to that line when so much of the game’s themes revolved around horror, indoctrination and supervision. While a realistic power curve has never Far Cry’s focus, I must admit that my best moments with the game happened when I was at my weakest! Sneaking between convoys to get to a location felt great, it conveyed the oppressive nature of the regime and the MC’s relative power.
How much Far Cry is too much Far Cry
Needless to say, when I started strafing convoys and entire encampments with an attack helicopter, this feeling was minimized. And while it felt right within a Far Cry game, the CONSTANT action felt at odds with the story. A lot has been said about enemy spawns, and the decision to have conversations with NPC’s cut off when they happen, so I won’t dwell on it. However, that critique is similarly rooted in a problem of pacing within Far Cry 5, and the ludicrousness of certain encounters (5
skunks, 1 bear, and an enemy convoy).
While it’s clear Ubisoft achieved an intended goal, and that Far Cry 5 is a major step in the right direction, it was a bummer to see the plot and tone of the game undermined. The constant need for action, the enemy spawns, and the ham-fisted escapes felt at odds with the writing team.
As in Assassin’s Creed 4: Black Flag, Ubisoft had a story, and implemented mechanics that weren’t entirely in line with it. In Black Flag, this left many people wondering why they didn’t just leave out some of AC’s storyline and make a pirate simulator. in Far Cry 5, you could wonder why they didn’t tone down the mounted-turret aesthetic, and step up the horror. After all, Eden’s gate was ripe with opportunities.
For more in-depth analysis on Far Cry 5, be sure to check out IMGMR’s full review.