INTRODUCTIONADR1FT is a game developed by Three One Zero and has been designed for Virtual Reality but it can also be played without a headset. Adr1ft, which comes out on Oculus Rift and non-virtual reality platforms on March 28. Walking simulator style games have become extremely popular with the likes of Gone Home, Firewatch and recently Layers of Fear, all of which offer something slightly different whether its horror, suspense or simply great storytelling. ADR1FT is a game that feels unique, thought provoking and genuinely intriguing. ADR1FT has been designed for VR and seems like the perfect kind of game to experience in that format. I only played the game in non-VR but it was still a fantastic experience.
STORYThe year is 2037 and you awake all alone on a space station that seems to have suffered some sort of catastrophe. You find yourself floating helplessly with debris around you and no sense of what has happened. I was instantly reminded of the film Gravity with Sandra Bullock and felt a sudden sense of loneliness and panic. A voice in your helmet speaks and states that your EVA suit has been damaged and is now using backup emergency oxygen reserves. It instantly becomes clear that you need to find more oxygen as soon as possible and somehow repair your suit.
Across the screen shows the various stats and levels including your oxygen levels, which are quickly depleting. You can also see large cracks spidering across your visor, I enjoyed how the game instantly throws you in at the deep end with a real sense of urgency. The movement in the game is slow paced and methodical but the high stakes makes things feel exhilarating and intense. You are playing as Commander Alex Oshima and you have the ability to float and explore anywhere you like to not only survive but also explore and find out what happened to the space station. It soon becomes clear that you are the sole survivor, hence the number one in the title of the game.
GAMEPLAYWhen oxygen levels become critical your vision starts to become blurred and you must find a floating oxygen canister as soon as possible. You can use your scanner to survey the area and locate key points of interest, like terminals, door keys and oxygen chests that have oxygen tanks nearby. The unused oxygen tanks subtly flash green so you can see them floating in the distance. Along the way you'll discover the human stories of her crew, like Andrew, who never got to make it back to his daughter. You find audiotapes that give more depth and insight to the various characters. These are touching, personal and work very well to flesh out the narrative. This really reminded me of the game Gone Home and I was surprised at just how much these simple storytelling methods made me feel a part of that world and what it would be like to experience that situation.
You find yourself moving through five areas, which are full of interesting things to see and places to explore. The game has puzzle elements, which require you to think about where to head, what you need to do, all whilst keeping an eye on your oxygen levels and where to find your next canister. Players will also find artifacts from the dead crew and must decide whether to return them to Earth. The game is said has two main objectives: to survive, and to return home safely.
CONTROLSThe controls in the game are pretty tricky to start with but after a short tutorial and some practice I began to get a grips with how it works. I played the game using a mouse and keyboard and it sees you using the usual movement keys as well as using Q and E to roll side to side. You use left Shift to boost, left mouse click to rise up and right click to move down. The F key is used to interact with objects and open doors. The game does a good job of slowly introducing these gameplay mechanics and before long it started to feel natural and part of my muscle memory. You’ll quickly learn to be sparing with your boosts, as these rapidly deplete your suit battery and oxygen supply. Being gentle with your boosts also keeps the game slow-paced, letting you take in the stunning scenery.
The most vital part of the game is keeping your oxygen levels up as you float through each area. It can feel desperate at times as you can see a canister floating off in the distance, not knowing if you have enough oxygen to get you there, let alone if there is another beyond that. Actually being able to grab one of the canisters is almost like a mini-game itself as you have to carefully manoeuvre yourself towards one and holding down the F key to reach out and attempt to grab it. The first few times I found myself helplessly floating past them desperately trying to grab it. After a few attempts I became better at picking up the oxygen tanks and navigating the world. You can also click to mouse scroll wheel to automatically move back to the upright position. I look forward to hopefully getting to experience the game using VR and see how it feels to move though the world in that format.
Once you get a hang of the controls you must then start exploring the space station and the game’s narrative. You make your way to various terminals that help instruct you on what needs to be done. The space station is intriguing and interesting to explore, with varied areas like a small cylinder where plants with bright green leaves grow in 360-degrees around you. Parts of the ship have been torn open and you can see Earth in the distance, which looks utterly stunning. For the most part you are exploring claustrophobic rooms but it would then occasionally open up to reveal stunning views, this I where the game shows just how beautiful it looks.
PRESENTATIONThe game has no combat and focuses on creating an immersive experience that sees you exploring beautiful, interesting and varied areas that are wonderfully designed. I often found the game would lull me into a false sense of security with beautiful visuals, when in reality it has become a race against time to save my life. The minimalistic sound design works fantastically and truly makes you feel alone in this desperate situation. It feels oddly comforting when you come across the various audio logs that kept me immersed.
The only real issue I had with the game was that at times it was a little unclear on where it was I was supposed to be heading. I found this frustrating but I could see how it also helps add tension and a sense of loneliness and confusion as oxygen tanks begin to run out. I was running the game on max settings and it crashed once, which didn’t seem like much of a huge problem.
CONCLUSIONOverall I loved my time playing through ADR1FT, which is only around 4 hours long. These days with games striving to be bigger, longer huge open world experiences it’s nice to be able to sit down and play through a compact experience that is well designed. The game does a great job of using environmental storytelling, much like Gone Home and more recently Firewatch. The controls are tricky at first but once you learn how to guide yourself through each area it does feel like you’re in space and it feels great. The graphics are impressive and the world around you simply looks stunning. It’s a harrowing, desperate and claustrophobic experience that I truly enjoyed and highly recommend giving a go if you like games like Firewatch, Gone Home or other First Person Experience type games.
PROS- Unique setting that feels immersive
- Impressive visuals and sound design
- Use of environmental storytelling
- Tense gameplay
- Interesting narrative
CONS- Crashed once
- Fairly Short
- Objective locations can be unclear
- OS: Windows 64 bits
- Processor: Intel Core 2 Quad CPU Q9550 @ 2.83 GHz / AMD Phenom 9850 @ 2.5 GHz
- Memory: 8 GB RAM
- Graphics: GPU: NVIDIA GTX 650 2GB or AMD HD7770 2GB
- DirectX: Version 11
- Storage: 6000 MB available space
- OS: Windows 10 64 bits
- Processor: Intel i5 4570 @ 3.2 GHz / AMD Phenom II 945 @ 3.0 GHz
- Memory: 16 GB RAM
- Graphics: NVIDIA GTX 970 / AMD R9 290 equivalent or greater
- DirectX: Version 11
- Storage: 6000 MB available space