Adr1ft - PS4 Review

Not trying to sound like a tremendous geek, but I freaking love space. Its enormity and incomprehensible size are utterly fascinating. Sadly, endless pieces of media have proved that going beyond the earth's atmosphere could potentially end in a horrendous, terrifying death. So while I would never physically visit outer space, I've remained hopeful that developers would be able to take advantage of current hardware to deliver an authentic experience. That's why I was quite thrilled as soon as Adr1ft was announced. Finally out on PlayStation 4, I can tell you that the game fulfilled my astronaut fantasies...for around 30 minutes. After that, the whole thing steadily began to crumble.

What is Adr1ft about? Set in 2037, players take control of Commander Alex Oshima. You suddenly wake up among the debris of a destroyed space station that killed everybody on board, except for you. With no recollection of the events that took place and a severely damaged EVA suit, your mission is to survive and to return home safely.

Before we begin talking about the things Adr1ft gets wrong, let's talk about the few things it gets right. I'm yet to find a title with no positive qualities to it, and this one is not the exception.

Without a shadow of a doubt, the game's biggest asset is its breathtaking presentation. It's rather refreshing to have the terrifying and lonely deep space as your setting. Luckily, developer Three One Zero truly takes advantage of the location, delivering ridiculously stunning visuals. You can tell a lot of thought was put into creating realistic, beautiful graphics. From the catastrophic event that left your station broken into thousands of pieces, to the inside of the spacecraft, there is a great amount of environmental detail, with everything seeming real. Also, I had no issues with performance.  It's very well optimized.

Another aspect Adr1ft honestly nails is the atmosphere. Going through the mission, you almost exclusively hear your thrust system and your breathing, which leads to a genuine sense of loneliness and desperation. With no lights and a good set of headphones, you easily get immersed.  It's just too bad that the rest of the package doesn't reach its potential.

At its core, this is a walking simulator. Or in this case, floating simulator. Now, I should state that I'm a big fan of these 'experiences'. Firewatch and Gone Home are easily two of the best titles I've played this year. Although not possessing deep & satisfying mechanics, they are masterpieces in two sections: rewarding exploration and complex storytelling. Sadly, Adr1ft misses the mark at said elements.

The gameplay that is featured here, is repetitive and bland. The first part of the game has you moving from checkpoint to checkpoint, but there's actually an interesting mechanic. Because of your deteriorated EVA suit, oxygen is constantly leaking. If you don't obtain a new bottle to refuel in time, your character will slowly and painfully suffocate. So even if you're simply traversing the environment, there's tension and a deadly threat you must worry about. However, pretty early into the mission, you upgrade your suit, increasing your oxygen level. Therefore, the danger of asphyxiation instantly disappears. There are no additional disasters, cinematic moments, or enemies. It becomes dull. The rest of the time is dedicated to locating a device that you later plug into a machine, four times. Clocking in at three and a half hours, it definitely overstayed its welcome.

Adr1ft could still be saved if it all turned around rooted characters and a complex story. But it doesn't. The protagonist, Alex, doesn't have any dialogue or sense of personality, which keeps you from relating to her. Storytelling is done through the audio logs and emails you find throughout the station. Even if they're well written and performed, they add little to the narrative. Once credits rolled, I still didn't know how the ship blew up. To be honest, I never felt engaged to the character, the crewmates, and the overall premise.

Verdict: If/when it becomes playable on PS VR, I would probably tell you to give this a chance. At it stands, this is a tech demo with a lot of wasted potential. Can't really recommend it.

The Good
- Masterful Presentation
- Great Atmosphere

The Bad
- Dull Gameplay
- Lackluster Story
- Overstayed Its Welcome

Developer: Three One Zero
Publisher: 505 Games
Format: PS4 (reviewed), PC, X1
A review copy was provided by 505 Games

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