VR games are all the rage nowadays, with everyone from indie developers to AAA studios trying their hand at it. Thanks to the amazing level of immersion inherent in the tech, space VR games have been a staple of the platform since its early days.
The latest space VR game is Detached, from Polish indie developer Anshar Studios. A space exploration game, the title puts the player in the shoes of an unlucky bastard in the edges of the galaxy. Trapped in a derelict space station, you wake up alone and on the verge of suffocation, and your only hope is to reunite with your crew and find a way off the station. Problem is, you don’t know where they are or what happened to them.
Designed for VR headsets from scratch, Detached utilizes the Oculus/VIVE’s controls to move around. Aiming one of them around and holding a button activates the thrusters, while holding a button and rotating the other control spins your character. The controls are understandably a bit awkward to get into, being different from nearly all games out there, but a moderately feasible degree of movement can be attained after only a few minutes.
The core gameplay loop revolves around puzzles and navigation, with things like airlocks and power cores gating your progress. During the first 20 minutes of my hands-on time at gamescom, I opened half a dozen airlocks to continue through the space station before finally making my way to majestic outer space. As an asteroid field sprawled in front of me, I flew towards a very game-looking glowing green ring, leaving the little facility I was in behind. As soon as I crossed the ring’s edge, I was catapulted towards an asteroid and splattered at the rock’s surface.
After dying so suddenly and unceremoniously, UI designer Marta Slupska asked if I wanted to test the multiplayer, which I did. Aside from the single-player campaign, Detached features capture the flag and race multiplayer modes, both of which I had a chance to experience at the event alongside junior PR Jakub Kwinta.
The first mode revolves around finding a package in space, picking it up, and taking it to your own base, in classic CTF style. The second is a checkpoint race, where the order of arrival at the finish line doesn’t really matter -- whoever crosses the most rings first wins. While in theory it behaves like a race, it kinda removes all competition of it, as last minute screw-ups or triumphs won’t lead to a victory if the other player already has 50.1% of the points.
Both multiplayer modes feature power-ups in the form of Shields, Boost, and EMP Rockets, which are all self explanatory. Their use is dictated by cooldowns, and you can also find “boost tunnels” -- the previously mentioned game looking green rings -- scattered across maps to move you around a bit faster.
Technically, the game seems quite capable. The sound effects and graphics work very well in VR, while the controls -- initially a tad counter-intuitive -- work well enough for what the game tries to accomplish. Detached is out now on Steam, and you can check it out for yourself if you’ve got a VR setup.