“This is Adam Orth, creator of Adr1ft,” a PR man states matter-of-factly.
Orth is the game developer best known for causing a 2013 internet riot with his infamous #dealwithit tweet. Here at an AMC Loews theater in Boston the weekend of PAX East, he stands up in front of a handful of media members to talk briefly about his game. The whole scene feels pleasantly at odds with the commotion and excitement (real and feigned) back at the convention center I’ve just left. Orth is soft-spoken and unassuming, and aside from just showing the game, there is scarcely any attempt made to hype up the audience. None is needed, because when I pull on an Oculus Rift moments later, I am immediately impressed by Adr1ft.
The added immersion of the VR headset helps, to be sure. But Orth insists that his game was designed to captivate players with or without another reality strapped to their faces. Certainly some of the enveloping feeling of space’s vastness is lost when the headset comes off. After it does, however, watching XBLA Fans’ John Laster and Jill Randolph play on a regular old TV screen is still a treat. Spectating their non-VR play sessions makes me want to get back into this game that is somehow being built by the small team at Three One Zero.
Adr1ft doesn’t seem like something that a diminutive indie developer could create in short order — but that’s exactly what it is. After less than a year in development at Three One Zero, the game’s Gravity-like take on space exploration mission turned disaster is moving. Floating aimlessly through the wreckage of a space station, I take in the little things, like a single leaf escaping from the station’s garden as it collides softly with my helmet. Turning to watch this green speck drift away, I’m dumbstruck and a little frightened by the vast emptiness of space engulfing it. Turning again, I find myself confronted with a familiar, comforting image that I have to assume has left many real-world astronauts breathing a little easier: Earth.
Later, Orth will ask what we think this sort of experience is worth and what games we think it’s in the same class with; he seems sincerely interested in knowing what value others place on his project. It’s a degree of humbleness his many detractors from two years ago might not expect from him.
You’ve read our picks for the best XBLA and ID@Xbox games of 2014. Now it’s time to look forward with us at what might be the best games of 2015. While fully acknowledging that some of these games likely won’t up to their billing and others may get pushed into 2016, these are the 2015 games that XBLA Fans is currently most looking forward to. If these releases aren’t on your radar yet, they will be after you’re done reading.
Developers: Other Ocean Interactive and The People of the Internet
#IDARB is a particularly interesting game to say we’re anticipating in 2015, seeing as XBLA Fans got our hands on what we were told was the “final” game in December and published our review already. This zany handball-meets-platformer game from Other Ocean Interactive and the fine folks of the internet — many features crowd sourced — isn’t officially out until February, though, when it will be part of the Games with Gold promotion. It’s difficult to explain just what #IDARB is, but it’s easy to recommend that you go play it when it releases next month.
That was Adam Orth’s comment in 2013 about future consoles being “always-online.” It was the comment that sparked major internet backlash, put him on his path to be released from Microsoft and set his life in a spiral.
You could say his life was…Adrift. You could say, this is his attempt to #dealwithit.
Studio Three One Zero describes Adrift as “an immersive First Person Experience (FPX) that tells the story of an astronaut in peril. Floating silently amongst the wreckage of a destroyed space station with no memory and a severely damaged EVA suit, the only survivor struggles to determine the cause of the catastrophic event that took the lives of everyone on board. The player fights to stay alive by exploring the wreckage for precious resources, and overcomes the challenges of an unforgiving environment to repair the damaged emergency escape vehicle and safely return home.”
Sound familiar? Parallels can be drawn to Adam Orth’s experience and his attempts to salvage his life, pick up the pieces and learn from his mistakes in the process.
Check out the trailer below for the first look at Adrift.