ADR1FT Hands-on Preview – Virtual Space

A haunting, harrowing experience enhanced by virtual reality.

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While at a recent 505 Games event in my home town of New York City, I got some hands-on time with ADR1FT. While the prospect of playing the game was enough to get me excited, the fact that it was playable on the Oculus Rift really got my attention. I’ve been skeptical about VR for some time now and I wanted to see if this game worked well with it. My time revealed a possible sleeper hit of the year as well as a convincing demonstration of what VR can do when implemented into an actual game.

We were first greeted with a live demo of the game, and let me tell you, this wasn’t just any old demo. What set it apart from other demonstrations was that audiences were able to see it for themselves, on the big screen at AMC 25 theater. One doesn’t normally get to experience games on a screen this large, so that alone was pretty mind blowing. It didn’t hurt that ADR1FT is a very cinematic in scope and the large screen just helped to amplify this.

In the demo, the game’s protagonist is found inside a space station which has clearly suffered a recent catastrophe. All systems that aren’t completely destroyed are non-functional. Most (if not all) of the crew are dead, and worse still, the protagonist’s space suit has been damaged and is leaking air. The goal is for her to survive long enough to boot up the necessary systems in order to active the escape craft which will take her back to Earth.

ADR1FT Screenshot 02

Since there is no gravity, you, along with everything else, are free floating. This also means that if you want to move around faster, you’ll need to use the suit’s built in air-boosters. The problem with that is, oxygen is a precious commodity that you have to ration. While there are various oxygen tanks floating around and you can repair your suit to hold more air, it is still draining oxygen at an accelerated rate. This means that, as the player, you will want to maintain precision in your movements, so that you may conserve what little air you have.

Even though the primary goal is to escape without dying, the game also comes has side stories which allow you to get to know the crew and space station better. During the presentation, we were shown the story of one particular character and what his life was like just prior to his untimely passing. Though you will experience the core story if you just stick to your main objective, completing these side quests will will give you further insight on the events that took place.

This may be an “indie” game but it sure doesn’t look like it. ADR1FT has the same graphical quality of any AAA game on the market. While there wasn’t anything particularly special on the space station (save for that one awesome tree), the game’s use of lighting is what really stuck out to me and hiked up its visual appeal. With the station in shambles, emergency lights blinked on and off. In addition, all of the malfunctioning lights created very detailed and interesting shadows. The parts which took place outside the space station where you could see the full extent of the damage, as well as an enormous planet Earth beneath you, were truly breathtaking (pardon the pun).

ADR1FT Screenshot 03

Since there is no gravity, the station is littered with debris. This clutter reacts to you and moves in a different direction if disturbed. While the physics do mimic zero gravity to an extent, they aren’t exactly 100% accurate to real world physics. For example, objects do not have an effect over you as they would in real life. Although the developing team wanted to incorporate zero gravity in the game, their prime focus wasn’t to have it exactly mirrored to reality.

After the demo, we were given the opportunity to play the game for ourselves. We had the choice of playing it on the movie screen or on the Oculus Rift. I don’t think a single one of us opted for the big screen. As I’ve said, I haven’t been sold on Virtual Reality, but I wanted to see if this would make me change my mind. After strapping the helmet to my head and testing the game out in VR, I have to admit that my mouth tastes a bit like crow.

ADR1FT Screenshot 05

This demo didn’t have the character’s oxygen depleting so we could just enjoy ourselves. The first thing that I noticed was that I was able to move my head independently from the camera. This meant that I got to see the inside of my helmet as I moved my head around. I must admit, I was a bit disappointed that I didn’t experience the same sense of vertigo as the others. Executing all of the motions, even upside down, felt completely natural. Seeing my own shadow on objects was pretty surreal, and floating out in open space with Earth looming beyond gave me a feeling of awe that I haven’t experienced in years.

I’ve played a lot of demos at events but this was one of the best I’ve experienced. ADR1FT is doing something very unique in terms of gameplay and narrative, which makes it stand out among most indie and AAA titles. The game also implements VR beautifully since it was built with the technology in mind. It also helps that this is an actual game and not a tech demo to showcase VR.

This is a game to look out for when it’s released this summer on PC, PlayStation 4, and Xbox One.

ADR1FT – Floating in open Space by TheKoalition

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Tony Polanco Executive Editor
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