>Adr1ft: A Deeply Personal Game About Being Stranded in Deep Space
In a way, you could say >Adr1ft is a disaster game borne from a real life disaster – albeit a personal one.
Before last April, you probably didn’t know the name Adam Orth, then a Microsoft Studios creative director. One Tweet later and Orth became a household name and, thanks to one tasteless hashtag – the now immortal #dealwithit – unwittingly assumed the role of the internet’s pincushion; supplying a face to the contemptible “Always-Online” debate.
The effects on Adam’s professional life were devastating, forcing him to resign from his position at Microsoft. More scathing were the repercussions on his personal life, as well, with some vitriol escalating to as high as death threats made against him and his family. Adam receded from the hate wave of the internet, and seemingly from the world too.
Now, Orth is trying to come to terms with his self-inflicted turmoil through creative expression. >Adr1ft is his way of dealing with it.
The game is being developed by Three One Zero, a Southern Cali studio started by Orth and a handful of trusted colleagues. While the team members were forged in the fires of big budget, AAA development, they wish to distance themselves far, far away from the games they used to create – multi-million dollar shooting galleries the likes of Medal of Honor and Call of Duty: Black Ops.
>Adr1ft demonstrates this wish almost immediately. You control an astronaut that awakens to a damaged and deserted space station. Your crew is missing, likely dead. You haven’t the faintest idea what the hell has happened. You’re alone and your oxygen is depleting.
A core gameplay conceit is finding more breathable air. The lower your current tank is, the more labored and panicky your breathing is. Your vision may even begin blur without enough air. Anxiety settles in not just for your character, but the player.
The game is set in the first-person perspective but bares no resemblance to the first-person shooters dominating the market. There’s nothing to kill and nothing is chasing you. Your biggest enemy is the environment. And, for being the bad guy, it’s rather beautiful. Serene even.
The game is equal parts tension and relaxation. Orth likes to describe it as a mixed salad featuring the exploration of Journey, the immersion of Half-Life, and the caught-in-space disaster scenario found in Alfonso Cuarón’s Gravity. It’s a gorgeous, ambitious project steeped in intimacy – namely, the alienation Orth has been unable to exorcise from his life since last April.
The game, while massively impressive at this stage, is still in prototyping. Three One Zero is looking for a backer, but given the response to its demo at Vegas’ DICE Summit (bolstered by the use of the Oculus Rift to immerse participants), it shouldn’t be long before a publisher takes the bait. >Adr1ft will probably be seeing a PC release first, but Orth has expressed interest in seeing the game grace next-gen consoles.