Review

Adr1ft Review

  • First Released Mar 28, 2016
    released
  • PC
Mike Mahardy on Google+

The fault in our stars.

GameSpot may get a commission from retail offers.

Our past follows us, across borders, between cities--even into the infinite dark of space. And here, 462,000 kilometers above Australia, in the isolation and silence of their vacuous environment, the personal demons of Adr1ft's astronauts return to haunt them.

Adr1ft opens on the Han-IV, a a space station shattered in the aftermath of a horrific accident. We inhabit the space suit of Commander Alex Oshima as she tries to discern what went wrong, how she can fix it, and whether anyone else survived. Through audio logs and clues in the Han-IV's silent halls, however, we discover problems that existed long before the station's sudden catastrophe.

This is Adr1ft's greatest strength: Its characters may be on a mission of massive scientific importance--synthesizing life in an environment where life should be impossible--but their Earthly problems haven't left them. It's these fears, and the hope that staves them off, that lend a personal angle to what could have been an inhuman tale.

But that narrative is obscured by poor game design and pervasive boredom. Adr1ft's zero-gravity environments require you to float through the corridors and laboratories of the Han-IV using your suit's thrusters, and at first, it feels novel--there's a sense of verticality that comes when gravity ceases to exist. But movement soon becomes a slog when you know where you want to go, but can only progress at a snail's pace.

Furthermore, touching a wall, however lightly, damages your suit and requires fixing at specific repair stations. Adr1ft even introduces late-game electrical hazards that send you reeling into space with little warning. There's also the matter of your oxygen. As you drift through the Han-IV's decrepit corridors, your O2 reserves gradually deplete, until you find the next canister or refill module. But because of the abundant canisters strewn along your path, your reserves almost never deplete. These survival aspects feel forced. They don't increase the game's challenge, instead becoming an annoyance, and detracting from the story at hand.

The game's radar doesn't improve the experience, either. Despite the fact that Adr1ft takes place in a zero-gravity environment, with hallways stacked on top of one another, and branching corridors that twist and turn on a whim, the radar's objective arrow fails to adjust to your elevation. Several times throughout my playthrough, I floated slowly along one path for several minutes, only to discover my objective was dozens of feet below me, past several layers of the station's insulatory exterior.

If Adr1ft took place on a flat plain with normal gravity, the radar's simple objective indicator might be effective. But Adr1ft unfolds in a very different environment than those of most games. And its capricious heads-up display fails to adapt to its own setting.

Adr1ft's mechanics clash with each other in myriad ways.

Herein lies Adr1ft's Shakespearean flaw: its systems clash with each other in myriad ways: the survival aspects discourage lengthy exploration. The tedious movement destroys the pacing. The ineffective HUD creates problems at every turn, burying the story in frustration and unclear direction.

It's a shame, because Adr1ft is a gorgeous game, with moments of stunning beauty: the view of Asia at night from a quarter million miles away. Small droplets of water suspended in a silent interstellar greenhouse. The vast expanse of space, laid out before you with its multitudes of distant stars. There are macabre moments, too, among the Han-IV's scattered debris. But even here, there's an alluring sense of mystery.

That feeling is exacerbated when playing Adr1ft in VR. Textures are grittier with the Oculus, and minute details, such as the notes on characters' desks, are almost illegible in some cases. But there's a real sense of height and location that comes with the 360 degree views in virtual reality. Glancing around a botanical lab, or into the distant cities of Australia, becomes a much more engaging visual experience when it's surrounding you. It's one less layer of removal to deal with throughout the experience of exploring the space station.

Some signs of life still exist on the Han-IV
Some signs of life still exist on the Han-IV

Adr1ft's characters aren't immune to these vistas, either. They struggle with substance addiction, impostor syndrome, marriage problems, and interpersonal conflicts. But they push onward, trusting the notion that life can be beautiful. Adr1ft reveals small details that change your perception of these explorers' relationships and regrets. Like their shattered space vessel, they're all broken in their own ways. In digging below the surface, examining the mistakes these characters have made, and finding retribution among the guilt, Adr1ft tells a human story in a very inhuman setting.

"I'm coming back in, and it's the saddest moment of my life." One of Adr1ft's astronauts recites this famous line from astronaut Edward Higgins White, the first American to perform a spacewalk outside of any protective structure. The character then confesses how little his time in space has changed him. It didn't impart any profound connection to the human race. It just made him lonelier.

Adr1ft has an emotional story hiding below its surface. But that surface is coated in laborious movement, forced survival mechanics, and an obtrusive user interface. The characters all have stories to tell, and by plot's end, they've reached profound realizations about their pasts, and how they need to change as they move forward. But unlike its characters, Adr1ft fails to find the meaning hidden among the wreckage.

Mike Mahardy on Google+
Back To Top
The Good
Gorgeous vistas
Well written characters
The Bad
Tedious movement
Poor UI
Clashing mechanics
Forced survival aspects
5
Mediocre
About GameSpot's Reviews

About the Author

Mike Mahardy finished Adr1ft in six hours, with an additional two on Oculus VR. GameSpot was provided review code for Adr1ft from 505 Games.
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urbanman2004

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I can appreciate his inspiration and motivation for why he decided to create this game but at the end of the day the consequences that occurred was from his own doing... Much luck to him and his future

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Redrivar

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Followed development and waited patiently with pretty much everyone else to say #Dealwithit

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Byshop

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Edited By Byshop  Moderator

I am really digging this game, but I would say that without VR it's a bit pointless. The coolness of this game really comes from feeling like you yourself are rolling around in space and bouncing off the walls while trying to grab air canisters to stay alive. If Mike spent most of his time outside of VR, I think that would affect this score.

Gotta say, though, that this is probably one of the most intense VR games out there because of the nature of the movement in 3D space as well as the sense of vertigo you might get from the wide open expanses of space. Short version is if a player can't handle playing this game in VR, then they have to play it on a monitor and if they do that then it will probably be a pretty unimpressive experience.

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xantufrog

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xantufrog  Moderator

@Byshop: great points. I think it looks pretty awesome, but it definitely seems like it comes with the caveats you highlighted: as a "regular" game it won't be, and as a VR game it's only awesome if you can handle the ride

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ecurl143

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Looks like a glorified demo, so the score seems about right from what I'm reading.

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Gamer_4_Fun

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Shame, when it comes to poor controls, I simply can't #DealWithIt

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berserker66666

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This game sucks. #DealWithIt. (The game's director is none other than Adam Orth, the guy who single-handedly destroyed Xbone's reputation)

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lostn

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I was in two minds about this game. It looked really good and I wanted to play it, but I didn't want to give any money to Adam Orth, aka the #dealwithit guy.

This makes the decision much easier. Now I don't have to bother.

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aiat_gamer

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Edited By aiat_gamer

And here comes the plethora of mediocre games to jump on the VR train.

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SaturatedButter

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Edited By SaturatedButter

I refuse to pronounce this game any other way than Adr-One-ft. And I immediately dislike anyone that says it differently.

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GameYakuza

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Edited By GameYakuza

@saturatedbutter: I sure hope yours is not as serious

http://cdn.escapistmagazine.com/media/global/images/articles/article/7665/06-08-10.jpg

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Gelugon_baat

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@saturatedbutter: You like awkwardness.

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SaturatedButter

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Edited By SaturatedButter

Tedious movement
Poor UI
Clashing mechanics
Forced survival aspects

I wonder what Adam Orth's response would be.

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Gelugon_baat

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@saturatedbutter: You were just leading the response, weren't you? XD

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stev69

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@saturatedbutter: D3al w1th 1t.

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Gamer_4_Fun

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@stev69: hah

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LouiXIII

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Does this mean Adr1ft was really Af1op?

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zyxahn

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below me. Trebek.

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Rusteater

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Other review scores -

UploadVR - 6/10

Destructoid - 8/10

GameInformer - 8/10

IGN - 7/10

Forbes - 8/10

God is a Geek - 7/10

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blackace

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@Rusteater: Mixed reviews. I may still give it a try in the future. Don't think I'd pay full price for it though.

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Karmazyn

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Edited By Karmazyn

Deal with it...

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Iemander

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This game was made by one of the biggest douches in the game industry.

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drumjod

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Edited By drumjod

@Iemander: Lol, I saw him in an interview on IGN and was kind of wondering... What did this guy do to become a "douche"?

Edit: Nevermind, I Googled it and found it.

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SaturatedButter

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Edited By SaturatedButter

@drumjod: Just the guy that single handedly destroyed the Xbox One marketing strategy with 3 words.

But we're supposed to feel sorry for him because he got harassed for being a dickhead.

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NLafayette

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@saturatedbutter: So, because the guy said some idiotic things it somehow justifies him being harassed by countless people? No more internet for you.

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SaturatedButter

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@nlafayette: No, but I'm not shedding any tears for a dickhead who made the unwise decision of being an dickhead in representation of his company.

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PointingMonkey

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@saturatedbutter: That last sentence is brilliant. It's concise, and accurate to the events.

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Daian

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This is surprising considering how much GS usually loves walking/floating simulators, finally someone with some sense is calling out this thing for what it really is.

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gamist

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Does this mean we might get a #dealwithit tweet from Adam Orth defending his game and blaming low score reviewers for being too incompetent to understand his game?

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blackace

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@gamist: Well, GS has the lowest score so far. All the other reviewers gave it mostly 7 & 8 scores. So once again GS is in the minority.

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berserker66666

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Edited By berserker66666

Well shit.....gonna wait till the price goes down to 2 dollar or something. Also I've heard the game is only 4 hours long on average and the asking price is 20 bucks. Nope.

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deactivated-5c1c32e0b8cc8

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Too bad this looks to be a total bust. It looked very promising prior to it's release, but as they say, looks can be deceiving. Really though. Too bad. It had such potential!

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filemaster4

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It must be Mediocre, since it didn't get the full VR experience. Flat screen 2D space does not apply. There should be a 2 rating system for 2D and VR. Just maybe the score will get a little boost for the immersion.

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kee1haul

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Was this a vr game?

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HeavyGavel

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@kee1haul: Yep. Supports the Rift, even the DK2 version (unofficially as opposed to the full retail one)

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kee1haul

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@heavygavel: I dont have a rift or plans to get one, but this is the first VR game review I've seen...

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swantn5

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"the fault in our stars"...well played good sir

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HeavyGavel

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@swantn5: Hardly the first time anyone uses the phrase in a gaming review

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LambaDelta

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i assumed this is a adventure/walking simulator type of game. i am not saying we shouldn't expect better gameplay from these titles, but i buy them for their story/character, so as long as the gameplay literally doesn't cripple the story/characters for me i am fine and if it does, then the game is bashed rightfully so at least to some extent...

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Kunakai

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Edited By Kunakai

I can't help but wonder how the creator is dealing with this?

:)

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blackace

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@Kunakai: It has a 71 Metacritic score. http://www.metacritic.com/game/pc/adr1ft/critic-reviews

Mixed reviews. I'm sure he's fine.

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Kunakai

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@blackace: 'Twas a joke man. I really don't care.

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PS2fweak

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Edited By PS2fweak

@Kunakai: I read your comment and I was thinking the same thing. Then I saw the smiley and I don't know why that made me laugh so much...lol

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franzito

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Ah, it's PC title! No wonder it's gorgeous!

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Smosh150

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Somebody's been watching chick flicks with that sub-title. Anyway this is extremely disappointing, this game looked like it was just going to be a joy just to sit and look around.

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Bread_or_Decide

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@Smosh150: Someone doesn't know their Shakespeare/Literature.

Cassius:

"The fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars,

But in ourselves, that we are underlings." -Julius Caesar

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Smosh150

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@Bread_or_Decide: Indeed I do not, even looked it up to make sure it didn't reference anything else lol.

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Probably the best looking VR game at launch though, so it will still sell. :/

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ADR1FT More Info

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  • First Released Mar 28, 2016
    released
    • PC
    • PlayStation 4
    • Xbox One
    ADR1FT is an immersive First Person Experience (FPX) that tells the story of an astronaut in peril.
    6
    Average Rating11 Rating(s)
    Please Sign In to rate ADR1FT
    Developed by:
    Three One Zero
    Published by:
    505 Games
    Genre(s):
    Survival, Action, VR, Adventure, 3D
    Theme(s):
    VR
    Content is generally suitable for ages 13 and up. May contain violence, suggestive themes, crude humor, minimal blood, simulated gambling and/or infrequent use of strong language.
    Teen
    Drug Reference, Mild Sexual Themes