I wouldn’t exactly call Gravity my favorite movie out there – the corny ending (which I won’t spoil) kind of make me go “ehhh” on it – but for about the first hour or so, it generated some real tension, especially if you were watching it in 3D and freaking out as practically everything fell apart around Sandra Bullock. So, to recap, it started strong, but finished with kind of a whimper.
And that’s about how I felt with Three One Zero’s ADR1FT. It’s build upon a novel concept, with a man making his way through space debris trying to get the bottom of what occurred while he was away, and there’s some genuine tension that helps the game get off to a good start. However, it loses a good deal of its momentum after said start, and in the end, you’re just wandering towards an inevitable conclusion. There’s wonder, to be sure, but that can only carry a player so far without the depth to go with it.
The game puts you in the role of Alex Oshima, a commander of the Northstar IV space vessel who’s investigating wreckage and the missing crew. As you begin, you’ll start out with tension-filled moments, as you scramble to find whatever oxygen cans you can get your hands on while sparingly using what little you have left to boost around and not lose your sense of breathing. This is probably when ADR1FT is best, when it has you scrambling for real survival, and making you wonder if looking for the next clue is really worth it or not.
But then, for some reason, the game just stalls. I’m not sure if it’s the fact you gain power-ups that make the journey a bit easier, or the idea that the story doesn’t quite come together as well as it should. It’s just something that leaves the game in a hanging state, instead of sending shivers down your spine like the opening does, as you struggle to find the next “can of survival,” as it were. That makes the game as a whole kind of land like a thud at the end, despite the attempts by Three One Zero to impact with its storyline. It has its moments, sure, but they never really add up to anything.
That’s kind of a shame, because the gameplay has certain appeal at first. Feeling the “floatiness” of space is genuinely captured here, right down to bumping into things and the panicky breathing of Alex as he begins running low on air. Granted, playing on a smaller screen isn’t nearly the same as playing on a giant theater screen, like I did last year at PAX East, so that does make it somewhat of a lesser experience. With a game like this, the bigger a screen you have, the better.
The reason for that are the visuals, which are quite spectacular. Three One Zero has done a great job emulating the atmosphere of space, right down to the floating debris and cool little lighting effects. Some parts of the ship are weird, but, then again, this wasn’t really a normal space vessel anyway, so no biggie. And just being able to leer out at the distant Earth is really something – and most of us won’t get that opportunity in real life anyway, so you can enjoy it here. I just wish the game had some sort of support for the PlayStation VR, so you could have some sort of “you were there” feeling with it. Ah, who knows, maybe it’ll be added down the road.
As for the audio, the music is very good. Not quite on the level of Gravity’s trailer theme, but still quite good for setting an ambient mood with your space flight. The voice acting isn’t bad either, though, again, the dialogue doesn’t really add up to too much. Still, it’s nice to have for those looking for at least a little depth.
The sad part about ADR1FT is, once it’s over, that’s really about it. No free roam mode or additional mysteries to solve – it’s a one-and-done deal. That makes its $20 price tag a little hard to swallow, despite the fact it’s one of the more genuine recreations of space in a video game.
I suppose if you’re curious and want to give deep space a tumble – or you just want to see what might have been in the first stage – ADR1FT is worth it. But I expected the game to do more in terms of gameplay, depth and offering additional content outside of its main adventure. Maybe Three One Zero was just going for the initial spectacle of space, but considering the size of this universe, more clearly could’ve been done with it.