Drift into Eternity is the kind of game where you wake up on thinking everything's fine and you had a good nights sleep, only to slowly realize that your house is on fire. It's a little indie game from We are Bots that has almost hit every mark despite the occasional flaw and yet still remains in relative obscurity. I am glad to be able to shed some much-needed light on the subject and I'd gladly pay 20 bucks for this game and I look forward to watching what happens next in the months to come, although I don't expect much deviation from the presented formula.
Drift Into Eternity doesn't have a storyline so much as a little backstory, designed to get you into the actual gameplay as quickly as possible and without much fuss. You are traveling on a corporate-controlled space ship that has suffered some serious failure. At the recommendation of the ship's AI the captain decides to abandon ship. But just as the Titanic before it, your ship is seriously lacking in escape pods and someone is left behind. The AI decides that only the stupidest, most incompetent crew members should be left to die on this ship, and I guess you drew the short straw. Luckily for you, however, the AI realized that as the last person on the ship you were now Captain incompetent, and a combination of regulation and programming meant that it was now her job to keep you alive for as long as possible.
Drift into Eternity is at its core a space survival simulator, so right off the bat, I knew I was going to be spending a lot of time scavenging and fixing things that break down.That meant a lot of moving around, a lot of looking for things that were essential to survival. What I didn't know was that pretty much everything you'd need would be found in abundance. I was expecting something more like what you saw in the film The Martian but I suppose that it makes sense that you'd find near limitless supplies on a well-stocked ship, especially if you were the only one there to use them.
The 'survival' aspect comes into play when the ship starts to shut down, and it will shut down. Fires, toxic gas leaks, and more will begin to crop up. Sometimes at opposite ends, sometimes in the rooms right across the hall from one another, creating a hellish mixture of fire and billowing green clouds that spread from room to room until they've consumed an entire deck of the ship. While you do have near unlimited resources to deal with any of these problems, it's finding them that's the challenge; this isn't the kind of game to hold your hand when things get tough. There's no mini-map and navigating the seemingly labyrinthine ship can get difficult as every hallway looks the same. The longest I've lasted so far is five days, and what did me in ultimately was the fact that there was a deck I didn't even know about that I stepped into for the first time only to find this:
A massive wall of fire and poison gas that I could only contain, as it spread through doors that I had carelessly left open when I was last through that section of the ship. I wouldn't have noticed it at all if not for the flashing red light above the doorway going off like a firetruck siren. Of course, I could have avoided this entirely by right-clicking to display a little pip-boy-esq monitor on your wrist that'll tell you if anything near you is on fire or being flooded with gas, but I wasn't informed about this fun little feature until it was too late.
But it's not like you're totally alone in all of this. The ship's AI is around and very helpful. But there's a catch, see. Instead of being your boring monotone AI helper that gives you the facts and nothing elseб we instead get a bit of a snarky AI. Speaking in the welcomed and familiar Siri-esq tone that we've become so familiar with over the years, but the message is far from the same. Little jokes about Half-Life 3's release date and delightful statements like 'After extensive observation, I can safely say that you are the type of person to watch Game of Thrones just for the naked people.' It's great, and I love it, but it does need work. Not any grand or significant changes, but I think that the developers couldn't really go wrong going through it again and making sure that everything is grammatically correct because I did notice some slight mistakes on that front. The AI is essential, she'll tell you when she comes across a stash of materials that'll boost moralу or if there's a fire in the area.
Now on the note of moral let's talk about the player. This is a survival game so you do need things like food, water, medical equipment and things to keep you sane, like novels and video games. Just the basics right? While it's not too hard to get all of this stuff, you will be constantly fighting to replenish your stocks because you burn through just about everything pretty quickly. The game has you constantly walking around and around in giant circles going from room to room, occasionally pausing to wolf down rotten potatoes and a bit of water, and while some could arguably find this repetitive, I don't think it is. The variety comes in the fact that you never know where or when the next problem is or what it's going to be. Fires are harder to put out than simple mechanical shutdowns, and they will often result in burns or broken bones, requiring specific medical treatment in the form of band-aids, pills, or vodka. To reiterate from earlier, you go to bed thinking everything fine and then you wake up and you're on fire, or that room full of medical technology you need to research is broken, and you don't have the items to fix it.
Technology is another noteworthy topic; necessity is the mother of innovation after all. There are several rooms scattered around the ship dedicated to certain fields of research like recycling materials, growing foodstuffs, medical technology, and improving your ability to fix the ship faster. It's rather simple and straightforward with the limitless resources at your disposal. All you need to do is walk down to the storage closet and pick up what you need. Your inventory quickly becomes full of a mixture of vodka, metal sheets, comic books, and old bananas. But it's not always what you need. You'll need to use your often limited and sparse water supply to put out fires, and sometimes, that gas leak engulfing the deck will require more resources than you have on hand. And all the while you're going to be walking around in giant circles. But I much prefer the term 'patrolling'.
Truth be told, I'm still not sure what the technology does, in the specifics. There are several rooms scattered around the ship devoted to specific fields, like medical or recycling, or food production. Each one seems to have their own tech tree that branches off into sub-trees. I felt like I was blindly going along, hoping against hope that the choices I was making weren't going to screw me over in the long run. But then, isn't that how it's supposed to be with these kinds of games?
My largest complaint, and the one that sits the closest to the positive thoughts I have about this game is the fact that it crashes. Quite a bit, in fact. And as there is no auto-save feature; this can be quite debilitating to have to go back to your last manual save, being forced to go back multiple days did not exactly endear me to the game when it first happened. For a completed game to be suffering those kinds of crashes reflects quite poorly in my mind, but to their credit, the developers are working quite regularly to update the game.
Graphics and Sound
The graphics are delightfully average here in Drift into Eternity. There's nothing too special about them, but at the same time, I can't exactly complain about them because there isn't anything particularly lacking from where I'm standing in the gameplay experience. There is, however, no soundtrack in this game. At first, I found it a tad disconcerting, but it quickly grew on me. The entire theme of the game is survival in isolation, and setting it up so that the only sounds are your footsteps and the occasional groaning of the ship around you feels incredibly appropriate. However, I still feel like the game would have benefited a little more from having more sounds than less.
It's a good game, one that I would heartily recommend to anyone looking for something simple that doesn't require too much time to get into but has a wonderful effect of keeping you engaged. As I've said before, it's $19.99 on Steam, but I consider it well worth the price for what is being offered. It's not too complex and not at all challenging. But it has a way of making you go 'just five more minutes'. And finding a game that keeps you going like that is worth recommending to others.
|+ Very engaging, at no point, does it feel like you're grinding or doing busy work||– Snarky AI helper could use some work|
|+ Solid enough graphics||– Limited sounds add to the atmosphere, but the game feels a bit too quiet.|
|+ Simple mechanics and controls effectively used||– Plentiful resources takes away from 'survival' aspect|
|– Crashes too often for comfort and all progress is lost up until last save.|