Games don’t come without their fair share of controversy, but Adr1ft has suffered a double dosing after it’s show-stealing debuts at The Game Awards, E3 2015 and more. Not only was it’s creator involved with comments that radically changed the Xbox One’s reveal, but the game has had comparisons to the movie Gravity left and right. However, we’re always happy to see when developers go against the status quo of hostility they’ve been receiving with a great game. Phil Fish did it with Fez, Kojima persevered through the final tribulations at Konami with Metal Gear Solid 5, and countless other developers have gone through hell to achieve greatness.
The backing of 505 Games also supported this theory (who has published indie hits such as Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons, Terraria, Defense Grid 2, and even a retail version of Rocket League) which made me certain Adr1ft would be a surefire hit. But with a middling reception during it’s original Oculus/PC release, I was still ready to get lost in space with a blank slate. Here’s a summary of my final impressions.
As I played through Adr1ft, one other game came to my mind, one that hasn’t been released. I’m referencing the upcoming indie space adventure Tacoma (made by the guys and gals who did Gone Home) which is set to be released next year for PC and Xbox One. Considering how both games were pretty much revealed in the same breath, I find it interesting how different each games set to be in gameplay. You might be thinking to yourself that this gives Adr1ft a new sense of intrigue or promise against the competition, and during it’s opening moments I would say that you were lying if you didn’t believe this. But as the game continues on, it’s orbit is misconstrued.
I’m never a fan of making a game cumbersome to fit an aesthetic or purpose, but Adr1ft missed this clue, and by a far margin. The UI is suffocating, and objectives always feel near impossible to complete due to how much you turn and twist. This would feel cool or tense if it was toned down, but it’s clear that the developers may have seen the accessibility of space themed sections in games like Call of Duty: Ghosts and gone the exact opposite direction, instead of settling for a middle ground.
Story & Design:
Adr1ft settled for realism and got too much of it, which is sadly present again in it’s story. There are audio logs everywhere, but they either settle on minute details or don’t give any sense to the main issues of the game and their solutions. It’s infuriating because this sort of story scavenging aspect hasn’t been rightfully done in a setting like this, and a game like this makes me think that it might take some time for it to be done again, and with the proper execution.
Another cater in Adr1ft’s potential is how irresponsible the controls are. Your character swings with inefficient accuracy, making nearly every task a headache. Thankfully, you can balance yourself out, but it doesn’t flow with the game’s resourcefulness towards the end.
Presentation/ Visuals & Audio:
If there’s anything redeemable about Adr1ft, it’s everything present in the presentation, graphics, and audio. The game looks really nice (Photo mode when) and challenges the high caliber set by some indie projects today. Other aspects such as the sound make the game’s downfalls seem less dire, for example the great voice acting and haunting soundtrack makes the story and it’s events seem less broken and more real.
Adr1ft is also a short game, but it’s one of those rare experiences where a second play-through wouldn’t do the trick. This is partly because of how the copious audio-logs don’t provide anything that groundbreaking, and how bare-bones the ending is. It doesn’t provide proper closure, in any sense of the word.
Coming from someone who followed it for so long, Adr1ft is massively dis-encouraging. However, I feel it might be worth it to a couple of folks who are looking for a more minimal and ambitious gameplay experience. Just keep in mind that it’s far from perfect, and that most would be suited elsewhere.
Adr1ft gets a 5/10 (Flawed)
We’d like to thank 505 Games and Three One Zero for giving us a code!
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