Any virtual reality (VR) that encompasses space and zero-g will undoubtedly skirt the line between complete immersion and absolute nausea for many players. Titles such as ADR1FT tend to be either loved or hated, depending on a players affliction to suffering the dreaded simulator sickness. If you are strong of stomach and really enjoy floating through the vastness of space, where up or down is kind of irrelevant then Anshar Studios Detached is well worth a closer inspection.
Detached is a beautiful videogame, the first time you leave the space station spend a moment to take in the awe and majesty of the surroundings before getting on with things. VR experiences don’t need to look amazing to be awesome – some of the best have simple quirky graphics – but it certainly shows the level Anshar Studios has gone to.
When VRFocus originally played Detached last year it was using the Oculus Rift and an Xbox One controller. This time around it’s been the turn of HTC Vive to showcase what it can do, and with motion controllers it’s a whole different ball game. Quite frankly, control schemes for these types of experiences are either okay or just shocking, making the most hardened VR player remove the headset. Detached thankfully has several choices on offer and this can make a world of difference for in-experienced and experienced players alike. The standard default layout is the easiest to start with – a directional pointer on the left controller facilitates general movement, while the right twists and turns the character.
As you get to grips with zero-g movement then more advanced controls are on offer to separate the beginners from the pros when going head to head. And it’s this PvP mode that forms the core of Detached. But before talking about that lets discuss single-player, which is where most players will likely start – or should start – before going into combat. Think of single-player more as a massively extended training arena – the title does have a basic training mode – this is where you’ll need to scour abandoned stations for the various upgrade modules (Shield, Boost, Rockets) whilst getting the hang of controlling yourself through corridors and out in space.
It is quite basic unfortunately – Anshar did originally have a deeper storyline which was then cutback – so once you’re done with the mode there’s not a great deal to bring you back into the fold. Which could prove to be an issue if the multiplayer doesn’t attract enough gamers – which is always a concern at the moment in VR.
So what about multiplayer then? Well this is a pure player vs player mode – one on one – no epic space battles with teams of astronauts, just a tense, almost standoff like element which requires careful use of those modules to win. They each need time to recharge, so brazingly firing off rockets or not checking how much shield you have left is a recipe for disaster. There’s just one problem currently, PvP only includes one goal, a sort of capture the flag feature to keep the momentum running. It works perfectly well it’s just a shame more variants aren’t available.
Detached has great elements to it, it looks good, the controls are excellent, and it offers some unique combat gameplay. It can feel spartan at times though and will really be hampered if there aren’t enough players for the PvP mode, which would really be a shame.
(Additional note: Detached is currently in Steam Early Access, this review is for the final version due for release this week.)