Virtual Reality is being supported by a growing list of publishers, but there are still only really a handful of titles that I’d consider true, immersive experiences in their own right. Sitting down to try out Adam Orth’s Adr1ft at E3, I was convinced that it was one of them – with the space exploration perfectly suited to the nauseating and claustrophobic feeling of an Oculus Rift. I wasn’t wrong.
If you’re not too familiar with Adr1ft or Adam Orth, here’s a quick recap. After leaving Microsoft following that whole “Deal with it” debacle, Orth founded Three One Zero studios and began work on Adr1ft – an exploration title that helped him deal with the internet furore that he had to deal with for months on end. The game, in many regards, could be compared to the film Gravity, as you guide a female astronaut along a wrecked space station in a bid to survive.
That’s done by collecting air canisters, which help you replenish your own leaking supply as you explore the beautifully crumbling space mass. Adri4ft is easy enough to play with a controller, using the analogue stick for both forward and vertical motion, while a single button press and hold lets you interest with object, pick up canisters and open various airlocks around the station. The entire thing is a surreal experience only interrupted by the inescapable realisation that you are slowly dying – which is terrifyingly captured by your character’s gasping for breath and horrifying HUD alerts.
But should you find yourself effortlessly drifting while being able to stay alive, Adr1ft offers some of the most gorgeous vistas and sights you’ll ever see in a game. Making it out of a portion of the station for a little space walk, I rotated my head and camera to get a better view of the thing in entirely. The amount of detail that is presented in the expansive, twisted station is immaculate, as is the gorgeous view you get of the earth in your struggling stead. Never before have I truly felt like I was in space myself – an illusion brought upon by clever visual design and the immersion of VR.
And that’s where I stand a little divided, considering that Adr1ft is scheduled for launch this August. It’s coming to PC, Xbox One and PS4, but it’s launching at a time where neither Oculus or Sony will have headsets out yet. VR isn’t a requirement, and the exploration adventure can just as easily be played in front of a screen with a controller. But I feel as though it wouldn’t be able to capture the full experience – something reinforced by the fact that every Adr1ft station was kitted out with an Oculus for show.
There’s a sense of dread and wonder that simply cannot be explored without the feeling of actually being there, and I’m unsure if it’s going to work against the entire experience or not. Alone, Adr1ft is an intriguing game, and one that prides itself on the journey it’s going to take its players on. It’s less about twitch, precise movements, which help you take in all the tiny details Adam Orth and his team have to painstakingly put in. It’s a satisfying game to play, and I look forward to exploring it more when launch arrives in a few weeks.
Better yet, I can’t wait to fire it up the second I get my hands on my own Rift next year. Adr1ft, like many others, feels like an essential title in that regard.
Last Updated: June 24, 2015