Version Tested: PC
Available On: PC, VR
Developer: Three One Zero
Publisher: 505 Games
Genre: First Person Exploration
Official Site: www.adr1ft.com
Release Date: 29 March 2016
Where to Buy: Steam, Retailers
For all that it lacks in gameplay, ADR1FT makes up for in experience.
ADR1FT is a game in the same way that going for a walk is exercise; it certainly has some of the same features, but it doesn’t quite have the same effect. Of course, that is not a point in its disfavour, as drifting about through the quiet of space enjoying the gorgeous visuals can be an excellent experience in itself. In fact, that is one of the reasons why I would have expected this to do well in VR. Total immersion through the glass piece of the suit, the slow, quiet, weightless drifting through zero-gravity; I can imagine that it would be quite relaxing.
However, for those who were expecting a frantic flail for survival in space, you will be disappointed. As lovely as the journey towards the end of ADR1FT is, the fact remains that it is essentially a walking simulator; or rather, a floating simulator. There are a number of things that ADR1FT does well – the graphics, the voice acting, the environments – and if you are looking for a quick jaunt across space then I can do nothing but recommend it.
On the other hand, if you are looking for something with a little more action to it, you should steer clear. You may find yourself gasping in wonder at the Earth laid out before you through the visor of your suit, but you certainly won’t feel like you are fighting to survive.
However, we are getting ahead of ourselves here. ADR1FT, for those who for whatever reason decide not to read the description of games they are interested in, has a simple premise: Survival in space after a disastrous event that ripped an Earth-orbiting station apart. The name is apt (though the use of 1 in the title to indicate you are the sole survivor is a little gag-worthy), as you take on the role of the commander of the facility.
The damage is catastrophic. Pieces of the station float freely through space, painting ribbons of debris in their wake. Thankfully, your extravehicular activity suit (EVA) supplies you with oxygen and keeps you separated from the cold, pressure and death. You need to complete a series of manual repairs in order to escape from this zero-g nightmare, discovering the story of the station, its inhabitants and why the accident occurred along the way.
However, there is one problem: Your suit is damaged, and must use your precious oxygen supplies as a propellant through space. As a result, you must constantly top up your reserves with oxygen canisters and stations that dot the spacescape; move too much or stay too long outside of what remains of the station, and you will suffocate and join the rest of your crew in the grave.
Really jolly stuff, I know. In gameplay, what that translates to is simple resource management. Find yourself in actual space rather than in one of the wrecks from the station, and your oxygen starts to bleed away. Move too much or have to adjust your trajectory (no friction in space, remember), and you’ll end up killing yourself. Jumping from cache to cache of oxygen is the name of the game, and it’s not exactly difficult.
Not once during my run with ADR1FT did I feel like I was about to run out of the old O2. However, I did still find my breath taken away by the sheer gorgeousness of the backdrop. You can say what you want about exploration-based games, but so often they manage to do one thing well: Immersion, graphics, and audio. ADR1FT is no different. Drifting from objective to objective does get a little tiresome in terms of gameplay, but you’ll never get tired of simply looking down at the planet below you and admiring the sheer beauty of the universe. Even the broken environments of the station are well put-together (though a little repetitive at times).
Had the game been a little less pretty, then I would have slammed it for being too slow-paced; but the fact is that ADR1FT doesn’t need to be action-packed to capture your interest, nor does it ever even try to be. The developers knew what they wanted to do, and they succeeded: They created a game that used an interesting gameplay mechanic (zero-g environment, specifically) as a means to more easily experience the game world around the player. Top marks there, though it would have been nice to have the option for a little more expediency in movement earlier in the game.
One thing I did find a little jarring was the audio. On paper, it should have worked, and occasionally it did. Your adventure is punctuated with transmissions, audio logs, even the occasional outburst from your main character. The quiet of space and hearing the heavy breathing of your character did a lot to keep the immersion going, and the crackling static voices that drifted over the airways kept your interest piqued in the journey towards salvation.
To this end, the audio works well. Unfortunately, at some point in your game, you will suddenly start hearing a fair bit of electronica music. It suits the setting well, but after an hour or two of utter quiet, it is incredibly jarring. And it doesn’t stop – suddenly what was a relaxing jaunt in space becomes an irritating push to get to the next checkpoint just in case it will stop the music. The tracks are actually quite good – but too much of a good thing ends up being nothing but a detriment.
Overall, I think ADR1FT manages to hold its own in the exploration department. I have spoken before about how graphics obsession is killing the gaming industry, but in a genre like this that is so heavily focused toward virtual reality, I can’t blame them for putting so much time into their visuals. The audio is solid as well, but it could use some work on timing, and while the gameplay is certainly interesting mechanically, it is still quite basic and occasionally quite boring. That being said, it is merely a means to an end in exploring the themes and setting around you – something that is also very engaging and well-done in ADR1FT
Would I recommend it to the majority of people? Probably not. But if you like to kick back, relax, and drift about in the quiet of space while enjoying some of the best views in orbit, then ADR1FT might just be perfect for you.
Gameplay: Hope you like slowly drifting and grabbing air canisters!
Graphics: Gorgeously-rendered visions of Earth with clean-cut and clear zero-g interiors.
Sound: Crackling voice messages and heavy breathing, occasional bouts of well-made but obnoxious electronica.
Presentation: A Gorgeous game that suits VR down to the ground – but don’t go in expecting action.
- Gorgeous scenery
- Interesting mechanics
- Very immersive
- Slow-paced (though not necessarily a bad thing)
- Repetitive at times
- Rather shallow gameplay
- Definitely not for everyone