NEW YORK — Imagine yourself alone in space, rapidly losing oxygen, with no one but yourself to rely on for a way home. No, it's not that lackluster movie Gravity — it's Adr1ft, an upcoming game from indie developer Three One Zero. Adr1ft casts you as a lone astronaut in the wreckage of a space station whose time and resources are rapidly running out.
I had a chance to go hands-on with Adr1ft when 505 Games, its publisher, hosted a small press event to show off some of its new titles. The game seems to provide an interesting balance of exploration, light platforming and abject panic, although whether the feeling holds up for its full playtime (about four hours or so) remains to be seen.
Adr1ft begins aboard the wreckage of a space station where you, as an astronaut, wake up with no context for what caused the recent, catastrophic event. Your suit has been damaged, necessitating that you collect floating oxygen canisters frequently as you explore the space station's broken hallways and labs.
The oxygen mechanic is one of the most interesting parts of Adr1ft's gameplay, as the resource doubles as your life bar and your energy meter for getting around. The game's protagonist can propel herself from place to place almost effortlessly (there's very little gravity in space, after all), but at the cost of expending her precious O2 supply. This makes hunting for oxygen canisters both exciting and harrowing, but my concern is that the process could get tiresome over the course of a few hours.
The other major component of gameplay is discovering what happened to the rest of the station's ill-fated crew. During the course of the demo, I found audio log after audio log from Andrew McDonagh, an engineer, until I stumbled upon his lifeless body in a blasted-out section of the station. While audio logs are done to death in modern games, it was still as good a way as any to learn about characters while continuing to explore.
In fact, the audio logs helped highlight the demo's most effective section: moving across the vacuum of space, Earth far below, while listening to McDonagh's daughter play Beethoven's "Pathetique." If Adr1ft provides more moments like this, the game could turn out to be a very memorable one.
Adr1ft has no set price or release date yet, but Three One Zero is aiming for summer 2015 and an asking price between $20 and $30. The game will be out on Xbox One, PS4 and PC, with a release for Oculus Rift and other VR platforms to hopefully follow in 2016.