After a stint in early access and a subsequent release on PC-based VR-platforms, Detached by Anshar Studios had just launched on Playstation VR. A gameplay experience geared towards players with a high tolerance for VR, we took the game for an outer space spin.
With a (relatively basic) first person campaign and online PvP gameplay, Detached was clearly designed with the idea of crafting a unique VR experience in mind first and foremost. It’s a choice that was made at the expense of the gameplay design, but definitely benefits those looking for something that’s pretty far removed from the casual VR experiences that are so prevalent. I mean – shooting galleries and rollercoaster sims are great when you want to show off your VR headset to friends and family members, but they don’t push the boundaries of what VR can do in terms of transporting you to another world and playing tricks on your mind.
In Detached’s campaign, you find yourself in an abandoned space station (it’s remarkable how many of those there are in popular culture) and you’ll need to overcome puzzles and other challenges in order to escape. Over the course of the adventure you’ll also venture outside, where you’re freed from the narrow corridors of the space station and experience the vastness of space
As a narrative gameplay experience, Detached’s campaign isn’t too exciting. It feels more like a tutorial which is slowly expanded on with a gentle learning curve, and never lets you become too invested in the narrative behind it all. ADR1FT suffered from a similar problem, but Detached shouldn’t be played for its narrative anyway – even though the pre-launch information talked about a rich universe and story. Instead, the narrative is merely a vehicle to help you experience the real star: VR gameplay in zero gravity.
With extreme turns, action that goes on on all around you because of 360 degrees of freedom and rapid action sequences, Detached can quickly become a disorienting experience. I have a high tolerance for such experiences, but can imagine that others will feel less than comfortable playing through this. The controls work well, but prepare to engage your neck muscles as you try to keep a good overview of where you’re going.
It’s this feeling of zero gravity navigation that’s the real reason to consider Detached, which is aided by excellent visuals that I would guess pushes the Playstation VR hardware to its limit. This is one of the better looking Playstation VR titles so far, especially when you consider that it’s coming from a relatively small team and not a AAA studio. When the movement scheme is combined with the overwhelming sensation of outer space, you’re quickly looking at a “wow-factor”.
Gameplay-wise, unfortunately, the experience quickly wears thin, even when you add the PvP online multiplayer aspect. The action is intense and requires some thinking (your equipment has a cooldown period so you can’t go gung ho), but the player base wasn’t too active when I played and that doesn’t bode well for the long run. Even if there was a lot of player activity, the online multiplayer still feels like an experience worth engaging with rather than a game mode I keep coming back to. Once you master movement/navigation and the use of weapons, there’s not much more to discover.
Despite the lack of a deep single player narrative and a vibrant and diverse multiplayer environment, I did have fun playing Detached. It’s a unique game for sci-fi fans with a high tolerance for VR, and took me to places and sensory experiences that are still rare in the VR scene. It’s unfortunate that it’s quite a bit more expensive on PSVR than it is on Steam though….