>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.
Fun fact about Creative Assembly’s Alien: Isolation — the game is playable from start to finish. With the core experience laid out, the developer is using the time between now and the game’s Q4 release date to polish, tweak, and refine the game.
I’m feeling pretty good about this one. It helps that it looks phenomenal. But I feel especially good that CA is approaching the material at a different angle and that, all around, even on Sega’s part, Isolation is being handled with the same meticulous care you’d show a newborn baby. Or a bomb capable of leaving a crater the size of Nebraska.
This year’s bulb is almost out, folks. And what a goddamn year it was! If it wasn’t enough that a high profile title hit market just about every other week, 2013 also saw fit to usher in a new generation of home consoles, bringing with it a wave of innovative, game-changing releases— Nah, I’m kidding. They just ported over some shooters and racing games.
See, despite the starter pistol having gone off for the next-gen race, 2013 belonged to the current-gen. Through years of strife and growth and learning, developers were able to forge some of the best games we’ve seen in a while, leaving gamers with a slew of graceful sendoffs to a generation in its twilight. Here are my favorite games of 2013 (that I got around to playing… really important to remember that).
“Black Flag quickly ranks as my favorite Assassin’s Creed. It’s everything an open-world game should be: enormous, addictive, and completely worth pouring hours into…
Ubisoft does a magnificent job of making you feel like a high seas hardass. The development team didn’t lightly nudge into the pirate theme, it tackled it full-on.”
Spike’s rebooted VGA’s, now inexplicably called VGX, has come and gone, leaving a pungent trail of awkward memories and flat jokes face down on the floor.
Seemingly slapped together in twelve minutes, the formerly televised, now streamed video game awards show ran close to three uninterrupted hours in which a strikingly disinterested Joel McHale lazily mocked gaming culture and industry guests while Game Trailers’ Geoff Keighley apologetically made “He Who Smelt It, Dealt It” faces in between fruitless spurts of holding the broken shards of professionalism together.
So, no, not much has improved over the VGA format. On the upside, there were plenty of neat game announcements and pretty footage of next-gen titles to oogle. I took the liberty of gathering them here.
Tomb Raider Reboot, Rebuilt
Crystal Dynamics, though nearly foiled by an Amazon listing, officially announced a next-gen port of Lara Croft’s 2013 re-imagining. Tomb Raider: Definitive Edition is heading to both the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One on January 28th.
Owning 4x the resolution of its current-gen incarnation, TR: Def’ also features a remodeled Lara and new effects technology that better simulates realistic, free-flowing hair. Just in case you were curious why the price point still rests at $59.99. Rest assured, you’re paying for a better head of hair (and all the multiplayer DLC you won’t touch).
Telltale Tells Borderlands Tales, Games Up Game of Thrones
A property chewing beast, Telltale added two new universes to its adventure game repertoire.
The first is a percolating collaboration between themselves and Texas-based think-tank Gearbox Software. Telltale’s creating a choice driven spin on the Borderlands mythos in the episodic Tales From the Borderlands. Assets by Gearbox, gameplay by Telltale.
Their next adaptation is recent rumor made titillating fact: the studio is taking on Game of Thrones. Interestingly, the game is confirmed to be based on the HBO series as opposed to the novels, meaning we can expect the visual design and narrative approach to tie-in closely with the show. No solid details to go on besides a projected 2014 release.
See the Universe, All of It in No Man’s Sky
A surprise reveal that genuinely raised everyone’s collective eyebrows impossibly above their hairlines comes from Hello Games, the indie team that brought us Joe Danger.
No Man’s Sky is a sci-fi game that ditches space marines for explorers. Your discoveries will span planets and galaxies. You’ll run into procedurally generated life reacting to organic worlds. The trailer showed us an explorer surveying life from within an ocean, hopping to the shore, jumping in his spaceship, and flying straight through the stratosphere into star craft populated space.
Stars in the distance aren’t merely lighting effects; they’re far reaching celestial bodies within their own solar systems, huge planets revolving around them (planets you can also traverse to). No Man’s Sky is a vastly ambitious next-gen undertaking that, insanely, is being developed by only four people.
And the Rest…
Broken Age [Elijah Wood featurette]
Tim Schafer returns to the adventure game (good time for it; ask Telltale). Brings with him a talented cast (Elijah Wood of Wilfred and only Wilfred fame) and a quirky art style.
Destiny [gameplay trailer]
Bungie has the “shooter” part down pat. Now they’re trying to redefine “epic.” You had me at “Gunfights on the Moon.”
The Division [snowfall trailer]
Gameplay? No, no. You’re obviously more interested in the wondrous engine being utilized to breathe life into a Tom Clancy post-apocalypse… that Tom Clancy didn’t actually write about. Still, impressive effects. Watch as the next-gen further advances the technology we use to realistically deface cop cars.
Dying Light [gameplay trailer]
I loved Dead Island, which is, according to reviews, too much praise for the open-world zombie stomper. This spiritual successor looks to approach the formula with a new, free-running centered bent. It’s zombie carnage, only faster.
Quantum Break [trailer]
I… I don’t know about this at all. I should trust Remedy Games, especially after two rad Payne's and Wake's, but this whole TV-meets-gaming crossover garbage makes me want to shrug hard enough to dislocate a shoulder. “Time is fucking broken!!!” is a premise that could go dangerously camp real bad.
Respawn introduced two new classes of Titan. I wouldn’t be able to tell you anything beyond that — I was in a trance watching hulking, anthropomorphic metal husks decimate ground troops. Which… How am I supposed to enjoy any part of this game not spent in a Titan? This game’s strength could be its metallic Achilles’ Heel.
"It may feel like the Basil Karlo interpretation of Arkham — giving itself away as a mere copycat when pressure is applied — but Origins is still adept at capturing that empowering sensation of being The Goddamn Batman.”
Halloween is just hours away, folks! While some of you are out there meticulously preparing a wickedly spooky costume to spill keg beer on, us introverts are lining up a marathon of murder, madness, and the macabre. That’s not some alliterated threat I’m making. I just mean we’re going to burn up the devil’s birthday watching horror flicks in the anti-social solitude of our darkened apartments.
As a habitual gamer, though, I grow restless passively watching blood and guts tossed about. I also like to take part in the blood and guts tossing (this article will be used against me in court someday…). I like to keep in season with a rotating program of horror video games. From Silent Hill to Dead Space to that one about the mid-western cops in a zombie filled mansion (why the hell can’t I remember that game’s name?), I just find interactive scares far more stool loosening than the static frights movies hold.
So, here I am, between a tower of Carpenter and Romero flicks on the one side, a separate stack of survival and action horror games sitting on the other. And, thusly, I had my peanut butter cup moment. We’ve already got ourselves some examples of horror films brilliantly adapted into games (2002’s The Thing hurt in all the right ways) but the industry’s still missing out on some killer properties to mine for inspiration. Here’s my top picks for a few more genre classics that deserve to cross mediums:
The Order: 1886 - First Screens and Story Details
This game has become my most anticipated next-gen title practically overnight. Game Informer’s feature in their November issue made sure of that.
Revealed at E3, Ready At Dawn’s trailer for their third-person shooter debuted devoid of info. Only two things permeated in the public’s mind: “It looks like Victorian Gears of War" and "Those can’t really be in-game graphics.”
Well, they are in-game graphics; brought to you by the stunning horsepower beneath the PS4’s hood. And, yeah, “Victorian Gears of War" is a tough comparison to shake, but The Order's concept is wickedly cool and fresh on its own merits. While the game's history closely mirrors our own, the key division revolves around the genetic split between us, humanity, and the “half-breeds,” a new sub-species of human beings that have taken on more animal-like traits.
Though we share the same gene family, the difference is enough to put both factions at bloody odds for centuries. Jump to The Order, or more famously, the fabled Knights of the Round Table. Instead of crusading for the Holy Grail, however, the Knights of this alternate history seek to protect humanity from the half-breeds.
Part of their calling requires these holy agents to imbibe a rare substance; “black water.” Drinking black water is just south of gaining immortality, allowing knights to serve for years beyond an average human’s lifespan. The result is highly tested guardians shaped and hardened by centuries of experience. Your character, Grayson, is one such veteran — the third man in history to bear the moniker Sir Galahad.
Galahad and his team’s fight is aided by a pivotal point in human achievement: the industrial revolution. But with the war against half-breeds nearly won yet still in play, technology blossoms in volatile ways, meaning this version of 1886 sees you equipped with gatling guns, thermite tossing launchers, and electric arc guns that can cut an enemy down before they’re afforded a chance to blink.
RaD’s imaginative, gritty, and strangely captivating mix of real world history and grim fantasy are the right ingredients for a head-turning, new IP. An in-house engine capable of astonishing feats of real-time physics — like bending metal and wood that splinters and cracks before breaking — also make for some strong arguments in favor of next-gen tech. I can’t wait to see more. Really, though. I can’t wait. It verges on painful.
The Order is scheduled to hit in 2014, exclusively for the PlayStation 4.
Glitch Gaming Apparel Needs Your Help
Hi, guys, my name’s Kevin. I spend my spare time plaguing the internet with my gaming blog The Red Herb. It’s okay if you haven’t heard of it; I made it and I’m barely familiar with it. The rest of the time, though, I work for an incredibly unique company called Glitch Gaming Apparel. When it was founded six years ago, the philosophy behind Glitch was to create a branding specially tailored for gamers; a name that people would immediately associate with awesome gaming wear.
Glitch began with just four original t-shirts and my boss’s garage. Today, Glitch does officially licensed merchandise for franchises like Assassin’s Creed, Borderlands, Portal, and Bioshock. If you’ve been to a major convention in the past few years — be it SDCC, NYCC, either PAX, AnimeExpo, etc. — you might’ve seen the Glitch booth. You might even already own one of our shirts! Despite partnerships with juggernauts like Valve and 2K Games, and despite a nationwide presence, Glitch is still a relatively small company, kept aloft by a skeleton crew of workers (myself included) that have to wear many hats to fulfill the day-to-day.
Here’s where you can help us dramatically.
Chase, in partnership with Google, is awarding just 12 small businesses a $250k grant. This grant would be an astronomical boost to Glitch, allowing us to expand and strengthen our business. We’d finally be able to pull our website out of the dinosaur age with a redesign, dormant projects would instantly be funded (extending our available product line), and, most importantly, we’d be able to create jobs, opening our doors up to dedicated, creative, and game-crazy individuals that want to help Glitch grow into the gamer’s brand it was envisioned to be.
The whole process above takes no more than thirty seconds. If you can find the time, your support would be monumentally appreciated. We’re already working on several ways we can give back to you guys out in the web-space, so be sure to keep an eye on The Herb and our friends Galaxy Next Door in the very near future.
Much to my unwittingness, last week’s debut of Mortal Kombat: Legacy's sophomore season didn't just see the first episode posted online — the whole damn ten part arc launched at once. I was of the expectation that it'd once again have the staggered release schedule season one did.
To hell with my expectations. You’re able to down the whole affair in one sitting, like I did, starting with Episode One.
To reiterate, Legacy's first run of episodes impressed the pants off me. I didn't care about blasphemous character reinterpretations or sudden budgetary dips. The series was stylish, thoroughly chocked with TV-MA action, and got way closer in spitting distance of the source material than 1995 and '97's royally cheesy film adaptations.
So. Is Legacy’s second season a flawless victory? Short answer: no. Long answer: hit that Read More.