Review – Detached
I’m not sure there is anything more terrifying then being stranded out in space just waiting for the inevitability of suffocation from running out of oxygen. That scene in Gravity with Sandra Bullock just tumbling through space with no way to stop made me stressed out. So naturally, I was excited to give Detached a go and I’m here to say that it mostly nails that zero gravity feeling with all the same tumbling, stomach turning hell.
The story of Detached is a little vague. After going through some training systems to get used to the basic controls of your suit, you’re greeted with a cutscene. The cutscene is a nicely stylized comic book art style that loosely sets up what you’ll be doing and not so much why you were already there. It seems that you and another explorer are checking out some abandoned space station when you’re attacked by space pirates. Those scalawags destroy some stuff and start terrorizing you with drones. You’ll need to start up various sections of the space station to find your other crew member and get out of there.
The story really isn’t the strong point for Detached, but luckily the uniqueness of the general gameplay of floating through space makes up for it. You’re equipped with an EVA Suit that has plenty of bells and whistles to get you through space. It has a six point thruster system that fully emulates zero gravity movements. You have forward, backward, up, down, and ones that will turn your body in a circle. There is also a very important stabilizer that will use up a bit more fuel, but will help stop you when you have gained too much momentum or are tumbling around and need to stop. All these functions require separate controller inputs which will take a little bit of getting use to.
I’m pretty comfortable in VR with only a couple instances of motion sickness mostly due to already having a cold. I did get a little stomach turn during the beginning of Detached while getting used to the movement. But the motion sickness was actually from the fact that my mind couldn’t figure out where the actual ground was and what was up or down. It wasn’t so much the motion as it was the feeling of not being grounded to anything. Once I got more used to it and learned to take a breathe and slow down a bit while navigating tighter corridors it got easier. It does feature an Eagle Eye mode which essentially blacks out your peripheral vision while turning so you just focus on what’s in front of you. This is to help with the motion sickness, but makes exploration a bit harder so it was turned off once I got my space legs.
The first hour or so is pretty strong when you’re first exploring the area, moving around taking in the vast space around you. You initially are sent on a few quests to start up some failed equipment and while doing so you come across some EVA Suit upgrades. As you first explore these stations you’ll unlock an overshield, a booster, and a Rocket Module. All of these items will help you get past some pretty rudimentary puzzles and once the puzzles begin Detached starts showing its poor mission structure and begins to fall a part.
I almost wish it was more like the first hour where it’s mostly an exploration game. When things take a turn and become more of an action adventure game it starts to become less enjoyable. It is now filled with a bunch of timed objectives, fetching items to restart more machines, and avoiding an indestructible drone. What makes it more frustrating is the checkpoint system, which will often checkpoint right before a timed objective, making you need to restart frustrating sections. Not to say it’s completely terrible once this begins, because there are still enjoyable parts throughout.
The graphics are unfortunately hit or miss, like most PSVR games. When you’re out in the larger level area in space it does look nice with the lighting system minus the excessive aliasing. It’s when you’re inside the space station sections that things turn for the worst. There is a ton of detail pop in from textures and shadows that happen only a few feet in front of you and most textures throughout the entire game are lacking up close. This is unfortunately a draw back from the PS4 Pro’s lack of power compared to the PC setups, but for the most part it won’t ruin your experience.
The sound design I was initially disappointed with because for the most part there is very little voice acting and soundtrack. But as I continued playing and getting immersed in space I started appreciating the minimalist sound design choice. Not that there is no soundtrack at all because it does ramp up when appropriate during action scenes, but the limited use of it is well done. The various sound effects of bumping into things and your thrusters engaging are believable and add to the overall immersion.
Detached does have a multiplayer mode, but it’s essentially just capture the flag with one other person. If you’re looking for a game that simulates being in space, then Detached is for you. Besides some unfortunately frustrating and simple mission structures, it’s a great space exploration game. Come test your VR stomach as you tumble through space and try and figure out which way is up.
While the open areas in space can look good with the lighting, anything up close looks very muddy.
Very impressive zero gravity effects. Even with a lot of experience in VR it takes a while to adjust.
Less is more when you’re floating around in empty space, but music does ramp up when needed during action sequences.
Fun Factor: 6.0
The initial exploration and getting a hang of your suit in zero gravity is fun at first, but a series of similar fetch quests and forced in beat-the-clock moments drag it down.
Final Verdict: 6.5
Reviewed on PS4.
Detached is available now on PC and PS4.
A copy of Detached was provided by the publisher.