I have just finished Far Cry 5 and though I had a great time with the game, liberating outpost and cruising around Hope County with a cougar who can silently maul people at my command, I noticed a glaring issue that somewhat dampened my experience. Far Cry 5 has a major issue with the tone it wants to convey.
A Bit Of Context
To understand my issues with the game’s tone, I must first discuss what the game is about. Far Cry 5 takes place in Hope County, a fictional county in the state of Montana, which has been taken over by the doomsday cult known as ‘Project at Eden’s Gate.’ This cult uses a combination of terror and religion to convert the scared and punish those who resist. Project at Eden’s Gate is led by a man named Joseph Seed, a self-described prophet who believes God told him that the end of the world was approaching and he must gather a devout group of followers to prepare. Joseph rules over Hope County with the help of his siblings. Each sibling controls an area of Hope County and enforces their own distinct brand of brutality. The player is tasked with liberating Hope Country, overthrowing each sibling and taking Joseph Seed into custody.
Throughout the players encounters with each of the siblings, the tone is serious and dark. This is due to the methods used by each of the siblings and how that affects the inhabitants of Hope County. Jacob Seed is the older brother of Joseph and is the head of security for the cult. He forces locals to join Eden’s Gate and if they refuse, he tortures them. Another one of his hobbies is to kidnap, abuse, torture and manipulate people through the use of drugs, eventually turning them into sleeper agents. John Seed is the younger brother and acts as the lawyer representing Eden’s Gate. John is obsessed with discovering someone’s sins and forcing them to repent. This is done through acts of torture. One of his methods is to carve a person’s sin into their chest, then cutting the flesh off, thus removing the sin from the sinner. Lastly, there is Faith Seed, the adoptive sister. Faith uses a drug known as ‘Bliss’ to manipulate people and make them do whatever she asks, even murder or suicide. Those affected by the drug struggle to retain control of their minds and some never make it out of the Bliss.
A Tonal Backflip
After one of these intense encounters with the siblings, you can start a mission where you must prepare for the annual ‘Testy Festy’, where the player must force bulls to have sex with cows, remove their testicles once they finish, and provide them to a chef to prepare for lunch. This type of tonal shift found within Far Cry 5 can give the player whiplash. There are many more moments like this found in the game and they all take place with a setting and tone defined by suffering and pain. One of the main motivators behind taking down Eden’s Gate is witnessing first-hand the depravity the cult is willing to inflict on the people of Hope County. It is difficult for the game to maintain this dark and serious tone when you encounter several side characters and events that seem to be treated as separate entities dedicated to providing a cleanser to the games violent story. This is a game where an antagonist slices skin off human beings and the player can have a bear named ‘Cheesburger’ as an ally, who can only eat Salmon because she has “the diabeetus.”
It honestly seems as though the developers of Far Cry 5 wanted to provide a game that was dark in tone but couldn’t commit to it. When the game wanted to become violent and sadistic, I generally felt unsettled. These antagonists are so depraved that it made each encounter with them burned into my mind. But, the game has to be fun, so the developers overcompensated and put some of the most ridiculous and silly moments and characters into their game. These drastic shifts in tone result in a world that doesn’t feel consistent. This lack of consistency hinders the player’s ability to believe the stakes within the plot because the people of Hope County don’t really seem to be all that fussed about the evil regime ruling over them. Instead, the game would rather have you fetch the Trump pee tape for a cheap laugh than to actually show how the actions of the cult have directly affected the people of Hope County.
Personally, I would have preferred if they committed to a specific tone. If they wanted to go as dark as they could, then they should have done it. If they wanted to make a more fun and bombastic title, they should have done that. At least the tone would have been consistent. Instead, what we got was a game unsure of itself. If I could describe Far Cry 5 in one sentence, it would be that it’s as if you combined Saint’s Row with This War of Mine and just like Pineapple on Pizza, those two things don’t go well together.