PAX West IMPRESSIONS: Detached

Friday, September 2nd, 2016

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Detached | Key art

I’m a relative virgin when it comes to virtual reality. Aside from a brief, non-interactive roller coaster demo at an anime convention, it’s not something I’ve had any prior experience with, and definitely haven’t played any VR games. Until now, that is. And let me tell you, I’ve never been so glad I don’t get motion sick.

Detached | Wide planet shot

I was given the opportunity by developer Anshar Studios to play Detached, a game they describe as a “PvP Virtual Reality Experience”. I didn’t have a chance to try the touted PvP, but I did get to play the first half hour or so of the single player campaign. The first thing to note is that the entire game takes place in zero gravity and no atmosphere, meaning that momentum carries endlessly, there’s full freedom of movement and you spend a lot of time in the empty void of space. Nothing too unusual normally, but the emptiness becomes quite unnerving in VR, really taking “immersive” to a whole new level. Movement uses a controller, and is similar to that in a space sim like Elite: Dangerous or Star Citizen, where the triggers control forward and backward velocity and the left stick is used to strafe, while the right stick rotates the player, with VR being used to look around freely and focus on interactive environment elements. It definitely takes getting used to and never really felt natural, although I was only given half an hour with the game.

Detached | Reactor core

If you are the type who gets motion sick, you should definitely not play Detached in VR. The amount of rotation in all directions came close to making me feel nauseous, especially the rolling, while going out into open space for the first time is somewhat overwhelming, with very little direction given about where to go aside from the back of another ship barely visible from behind a nearby asteroid. The sound design compliments the openness, with only ambient sounds such as the thrusters on your space suit audible. Never have I seen a game that better shows the emptiness and loneliness of outer space than Detached.

Detached | Through asteroids

Apparently the PvP mode is a race to retrieve a parcel and return it to the starting point. As I mentioned, my demo consisted only of part of the single-player mode, so I wasn’t able to take a shot at the multiplayer. If you want to take a shot at Detached, it’s currently available on Steam Early Access for $17.99 USD, discounted from the usual $19.99 specially for PAX West. The Early Access version requires VR (either Oculus Rift or the HTC Vive), but the final version due in the first part of 2017 will not.

About Chris Melchin

Chris is a computer science student who has been gaming ever since he knew what to do with a Super Nintendo controller. Since then, he's owned every Nintendo console to be released. His favourite games include Xenoblade Chronicles, Persona 4 Golden, and Little Busters. He started watching anime in high school, and his favourite series is Fullmetal Alchemist Brotherhood. He also writes Vocaloid music for his personal YouTube channel, and has a (slight) obsession with Megurine Luka.