In an era where the bulk of video games are First Person Shooters, along comes a unique experience called Adr1ft where the guns are removed and the focus is on interstellar exploration. From 505 Games, Adr1ft finds the player as an astronaut in peril who is floating silently amongst the wreckage of a destroyed space station with no memory and a severely damaged spacesuit. Your goal is to determine the cause of the catastrophic event by exploring and overcoming challenges while being totally unarmed. Life+Times got our hands on an early build of the game during a private event and sat down with creator Adam Orth of indie studio Three One Zero to discuss how the Adr1ft may change gaming forever and how his own personal experiences ended up shaping the narrative of one of the most innovative games of 2015.
Life+Times: For the past decade, gaming has been all about the First Person Shooter. Did Adr1ft partially come about because you believes that gamers are growing tired of the same old thing?
Adam Orth: To a certain extent the gamers are fatigued. But if publishers started making first person games that wasn’t shooters I don’t know if that would go over so well because the genre is still very popular. What we’re doing is risky and bold. I think gamers want these experiences. There’s no doubt in my mind. The response we’ve gotten has been nothing but positive. It’s certainly risky from a biz perspective especially being from a small studio but being small allows you to take risks that a billion dollar franchise wouldn’t take. I’m happy to explore and if we fall flat on our face I’m happy that we tried.
L+T: So what does it mean to make a First Person Experience?
AO: In First Person Shooters, the gun is how you interact with the world. In our game it is the hands. You are constantly touching the world around you. With Adr1ft we just wanted to do something different. It’s super fun exploring what a first person experience is like. Take the guns and the violence away. If we’re going to start our own company and be unique it meant doing something different all the way. It means mostly nonviolent games for us. I don’t see a lot of circumstances where the player in our game will be doing violent acts. We’re finding that when you take away the guns and enemies, the challenge to do something is harder to do but a lot more rewarding when you find it. It’s super exciting when you can make a game like we’re making and have gameplay that’s not just walking around looking at stuff. This is our version of the genre
L+T: Games such as the Journey completely removed the violence from the experience and, although risky, ended up being named one of the best games ever for the PS3. Is that the goal with Adr1ft?
AO: Being stood up next to Journey is the biggest compliment in the world. I don’t think we’re even close to as brilliant as that game is. It’s a huge influence and it’s a definite goalpost for us. I reference that game all the time. Journey was something I always wanted and finally got it and it made me feel like I could do this. Even though it’s not a FPS, it connected with me on levels that I had yet to be connected on. If that happened to me it definitely happened to other people. I really hope that people give our game a chance. It’s going to resonate with people.
L+T: You opted to take Adr1ft to 505 Games rather than one of the bigger companies. Why?
AO: One of the interesting things at 505 is that they definitely take some risks on some cool games. It’s pretty clear that there is this real desire to make these kind of really unique experiences that wouldn’t be considered mass market. Time and time again we’re shown that people want to play games like this. It remains to be seen how these games will sell. Success for me is just making an experience that resonates with people.
L+T: You’ve said that Adr1ft’s narrative was largely built off of your own personal experiences, correct?
AO: I think the best art in the world is the stuff that has the author’s experiences in it. I feel like you get the most out of those things. The truest expression is when it comes from inside of the artist. While I’m not calling myself an artist, the whole game is full of intensely personal things that come from my life from childhood to now. So it’s definitely raw and emotional stuff in there. I can’t really talk about the narrative but it is very different. It’s not your average save the world stuff. It’s the exact opposite. Without saying too much, the narrative is about relationships between people and places at work but their offices are in space. It’s not a very heroic or typical narrative at all. I hope there are elements within these stories that people can see themselves in them.
L+T: Many games put you in control of a superhero or somebody with superpowers. However, it appears that Adr1ft has a very human element to it. Is there an advantage gained by making a relatable main character?
AO: The best hero narratives are the ones you can relate to. Like Indiana Jones because people like that he’s totally flawed and people can realistically see themselves in that character. It all depends on who the hero is. I just think it’s important to remember the story when you’re done playing. Hopefully we have one that you will. We put a lot of thought into it. It’s the first time I’ve ever written a game. It was way harder than I thought it would ever be. It was rewarding to do. I feel like its just another part of the game that we’re trying to do something different.
L+T: Is there a release date?
AO: We’re planning a summer release so we’re hoping to have it done by April. It’s a digital only release so we’re definitely in the home stretch. We’ve actually scrapped the game three times and started all over. We’re perfectionists and we want to make it right. We burned it down a couple of times because we felt that it was great but not great enough yet. We hold ourselves to a very high standard that will show on screen.
L+T: Does that mean it’s possible that you guys will burn it down again?
AO: No more burning down. We got to the point where it’s finally right and we’re in the home stretch.