Space is a scary place. Its vast black openness can drive anyone into a panic attack, but it can also be gorgeous and wonderful. I have always wanted to play a game in space that didn’t involve aliens, mechs, and monsters. When Adr1ft was announced I had high hopes for it. An astronaut trying to survive on a destroyed space station looked and sounded like the perfect blend and change I was looking for. Unfortunately it didn’t end up that way.
As the only remaining survivor of a destroyed space station, you awake floating in the vastness of space with no memory of who you are or what happened. With your suit leaking oxygen, you hurry to try and make it back inside the station before you run out of air. As the story progresses, you discover clues about yourself, your crewmates, and what eventually happened to the station.
The game’s story is mostly presented in reading logs and voice recorders that you discover throughout the game. The logs and recorders flesh out your crewmates’ backstories pretty well and give them plenty of personality even though you never really encounter them in person. The game’s voice work is excellently done, but I was disappointed that the main character who obviously has a voice never really speaks. Sure she’s alone, but some inner monologue would have gone a long way in allowing me to know how the survivor I’m controlling feels in this situation. It’s even worse when ground control is constantly communicating with you but you have no way of answering them. I have no problem with this in particular, but at least have the survivor express some sort of emotion to the situation. Everything just seems calm.
The bulk of the game has you flying around in zero gravity around the space station repairing your EVA space suit and an escape shuttle to bring you back to Earth. As you float around in space–and I do mean float–you are treated to some great visuals of Earth both during the day and the night. Being in zero-G, the game does a great job keeping you aware of your surroundings. Sure you have full control of your character and at some points it can become rather disorienting, but thankfully you can always balance yourself out and center the camera with a simple press of a button.
With so much open space to move around in, getting lost can be easy but again thanks to a simple press of a button, the objective marker appears, if it’s in your point of view as well as other important items in the environment. Your suit comes equipped with thrusters, giving you control of your suit. These thrusters run on your oxygen tank, so with air being limited you have to learn to use your thrusters sparingly so as to not run out of oxygen. This leads to a massive problem which sees you simply just drifting around. The game has plenty of oxygen tanks that float around the environment that allow you to refill your ever draining air supply, but they aren’t always in the locations where you would like them to be.
This becomes a major problem later in the game when you have to transverse the more destroyed parts of the space station. A lot of locations are so spread out that you will simply have to drift to it which leads to you simply waiting to get to your destination. Sure you can use your thrusters to move a bit faster but it will also drain your oxygen supply that much faster. This lead to a lot of deaths as I wasn’t able to find any oxygen tanks close by.
The game does feature some puzzle solving, but it’s nothing more than just avoiding environmental hazards. It’s a shame that Adr1ft doesn’t offer much of any other excitement or even suspense. Remember when I said that everything just seems too calm? Well that’s exactly how Adr1ft feels pretty much through and through. Outside of the opening scene’s the rest of the game has no real danger or threat. I never felt like I was actually struggling to survive. It would’ve been nice to introduce some tense instances like trying to escape a part of a shuttle before it explodes, or implementing anything to make it a race to survive or even fight for my survival. There just isn’t any urgency to your dire situation.
On the plus side, the game can be gorgeous to look at. Although the indoor environments can become repetitive, the outdoor ones can be stunning. Seeing the Earth light up at night is definitely screenshot worthy. Since you are in space with no gravity, items float around and brush aside as you move past them which looks pretty cool. The music, when it’s there, is also good, at least when it comes to its piano score. I just wish there was more of it.