Since the launch of PlayStation VR, I’ve done a lot of things I’ve never experienced in games before. Even if I had done it before, VR still felt like the first time all over again. There’s still a sense of excitement every time I put on the headset to experience a game for the first time. With Detached, I was both excited and nervous to see what this title had to offer.
While Detached does have some comfort settings, the game is largely designed for hardcore VR players who have firmly found their “legs” as it were. Stranded in the middle of space with nothing but your suit and limited supplies, you’ll need to seek a way out of this predicament. When you’re finished with that, the game offers a few multiplayer modes as well. Does all of this combine into a fresh and exciting VR game, or will the zero gravity simply leave your head spinning?
Not For The VR Faint of Heart
There’s been a lot of debate since the launch of PSVR about comfort settings like blinders, click turning, and teleportation movement. On the one hand, you have people who just want the games to play like they expect, without any hand-holding. On the other side are the people who get physically ill while playing and want options to make the game more enjoyable.
While most games try to straddle this line, Detached isn’t too concerned with making you feel better, and the marketing has not been shy about that fact. As someone who plays a lot of VR, I was excited to see what the game could throw at me.
Let’s start with the tutorial. You can play this mode on the menu to get a feel for the game’s mechanics, but keep in mind that you’ll need to play it again if you start a new single player game. I imagine this was done for people who want to do the tutorial and then jump into multiplayer, but without experience in the single player, you’ll be lost as to how some of the tech abilities function.
During the tutorial, you’ll learn what it’s like to be in zero gravity, which is how you’ll spend the entirety of your time in Detached. The basic control setting/difficulty is “arcade,” and this is where I spent the majority of my time.
There are some pretty intense motion blinders on by default, but you can turn these off entirely by moving the eagle eye slider in the options menu down to zero. Arcade mode allows you to rotate and move vertically with the triggers, while using the left and rick stick to fly and steer.
The controls are pretty responsive in this mode, and the physics with your air brake using L3 is also relatively forgiving. In other words, this mode will toss you around in zero-g like you’re a plastic bag on the wind, but you’ll get the hang of things pretty quick.
That being said, other settings like soft collisions can be turned off to really let you feel that crunch when you hit a surface too fast and shatter your helmet, resulting in an instant death. Even in this mode, I could see how casual players would feel their stomachs turning.
Needless to say, turning things up to “Astronaut” and “Simulation” difficulties fared about as well as you would expect. These modes employ the same controls, but offer far less forgiveness when it comes to the physics of a zero-g environment. After a few minutes with these modes, I was back to arcade, if only to stop the room from spinning.
When you start the single player campaign, you’re treated to a graphic novel style cutscene in 2D that has limited animation. Essentially, you are part of a salvage crew consisting of yourself and one other character.
Upon leaving your latest mission, while riding in the cargo bay, your section of the ship becomes, wait for it, detached! You find yourself stranded and without immediate rescue, you’ll need to figure out how you can get in touch with your comrade and get rescued.
With the controls under your belt, Detached throws you into a fairly large open world area to start. While some people may be able to fly through the campaign in a few hours, the game doesn’t offer much guidance to show you where to go or what to do.
Once I cleared the first area and flew out into space, I was blown away by the size and scope of it all. This initial section of the game spans across multiple space stations and features a thick clulster of asteroids for you to navigate through.
Canisters of oxygen and fuel are somewhat plentiful, so you won’t run out unless you’re not looking for them. While I did spend some time fumbling around and making a few mistakes, I eventually got the lay of the land and found my first tech module, which pushed me in the right direction.
In this first part of the game, you’ll receive your abilities: boost, shield, and rockets. These are also used in mutliplayer, which we’ll discuss momentarily. Once you’ve obtained these, you’ll essentially need to locate the major areas in the open world to solve some navigational puzzles and leverage your abilities to get things back online.
Despite the lack of direction, I was able to pick up the general flow of Detached pretty quickly, and upon finishing the opening segment, I was feeling pretty confident with the controls and my abilities. There’s more to the campaign, of course, but I won’t spoil any of that here.
When you’re ready, Detached features a multiplayer component as well. There is a racing mode and a capture the flag that involves getting an item and bringing it back to your base. These modes leverage the controls and abilities of the campaign really well, and offer some fun competitive options to complement the single player’s more solo and puzzle-based feel.
Multiplayer in VR for me is always interesting, because it’s such a niche product I always wonder if games that focus on it will find a consistent player base. Detached plays it smart by offering a solid single player to fall back on if the multiplayer doesn’t take off. That being said, it’s good multiplayer so I hope it does.
Nailing The Feel of Space
Despite some lack of direction, I have to really drive home the thing that Detached does extremely well, which is nailing the feeling of zero gravity movement in virtual reality. Even while sitting in a chair in my living room, I really felt like I was floating in this game.
The subtle use of the helmet around your vision also provides some excellent immersion as you feel like there’s nothing but a sheet of glass between you and oblivion.
Did I get sick? Not particularly, but on the higher difficulties I certainly felt my stomach turn. Moments when I spun over or lost track of up and down also had me feeling a little dizzy, but these things passed. It’s also worth noting that the game looks utterly beautiful on PS4 Pro.
I would have liked to see more story surrounding the setting and the characters, but I will say that the excellent soundtrack does a great job of conveying the vast, beautiful, and haunting feeling of being alone in the vacuum of space very well.
Ultimately, if you’ve ever wanted to feel like an astronaut floating in space, Detached is the closest I’ve seen to the real thing.
Final Score: 8.5/10
A copy of Detached was provided to PS4 Experts for review purposes
Article by - Bradley Ramsey
/Insert date - 8/8/18