Detached (PSVR) Review

Detached is a simply stunning PSVR title which has you solving puzzles and evading unknown lifeforms whilst you float through zero-G in space! The game does have a multiplayer, but the main crux of the game is it’s immersive and challenging single player mode along with its almost impossible trophy list. Originally out in Early Access on PC, it’s made it’s way over to the PSVR upon completion without many sacrifices other than a lower resolution. Developer Anshar Studios have put a lot of love and care into crafting this game and making it as realistic as they can, but does that come at a price of your wellbeing?

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This is one of the first things you see when you leave the ship!

Detached is most likely the best VR free-floating Space game you’ll play in a while. The story is simple, you’re on a salvage mission in space with your companion when something comes aboard and sabotages your ship. As such, it’s now up to you to venture out into space and activate various stations which are part of the abandoned space station in order to allow you to set off once again and return home. However, you only have a limited amount of fuel and oxygen for your spacesuit, these can be refuelled but the refills are limited. Once you’ve activated all the stations you and your buddy can get out of there, right? Maybe things won’t be a simple as that as the entity who sabotaged you initially may have other plans for the both of you. 

The Single player supposedly isn’t very long yet I’ve spent about 5 hours playing it so far and I’m still on chapter three – which I’ll talk about below. Some people say it’s an extended tutorial as it’s a way of introducing you to the gameplay mechanics and controls before you jump into the multiplayer and face off against other players – personally, I found the single player portion to be really enjoyable and entertaining. It’s not without flaws, but overall it’s a really fun game for those who have a strong stomach!

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Blinders at 100% – I wonder if anyone will play like this?

I’m so dizzy, my head is spinning…
Detached is one of the few games on the PSVR headset which physically made me dizzy and physically sick the first time I played it. As you’re floating around in zero-G, your body spins with the momentum we’re not used to down here on Earth and as such, my mind couldn’t take it when I stupidly removed all comfort settings and jumped straight in. Basically, I would most likely suck at being an astronaut! Initially, I put the comfort level at 100% as I thought it was 100% off (the wording was confusing) and the results were hilarious. It was like I was holding a toilet roll up to my eye and peering through it! The blinders were comically massive. I then reduced it to zero and that’s where nausea kicked in and I had to stop playing after about 15 minutes and I rushed off to be sick. Then I found my sweet spot – 20% blinders. They are small enough to be not obtrusive yet they stopped me getting sick whilst playing.

My advice, start at a high number and work your way down – don’t put it on 0% and work your way up. It’s not a pleasant experience for your health! Even the game itself has this description/warning:

This is an extreme VR experience that simulates sudden and dramatic acceleration, freefalling, twisting and rolling. Even with the 90 FPS frame rate, it is not for VR-sensitive players

That being said, once you have nailed your perfect setting, the game instantly becomes awesome. Using the DS4 controller, you can use the shoulder buttons to adjust the angle of your thrusters and long or short bust them in order to push you forward, slow you down, or adjust your height. You also have an instant break – which is super handy – and full 360 degrees spinning/turning. This is where nausea kicks in as you can effectively move upside down and in any direction – which feels so strange in VR! Once you get the hang of it though, you’ll be zipping all over the place as you try not to smash your face into giant rocks or the ship!

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The size of the ships and structures is amazing in VR.

I briefly mentioned the tutorial above so let’s just touch on that. The tutorial is fun – you go all Superman64 as you ‘fly’ through rings in zero-G – which is fine. However, from the options menu, you can either start a new game or the tutorial. I obviously chose the tutorial as it was my first go. Upon completing it, I jumped into a new game – which also started with the non-skippable tutorial. I don’t like games which do this, why not give us the option to continue after doing the tutorial or ask if we want to skip it when we pick a new game? As such, I had to go through it a second time. It’s not a big issue, but it’s slightly annoying. 

When you begin playing Detached for the first time and you head out into the great unknown, the first thing that hits you is the sheer scale of the ships and station around you. As you float out and turn, you see that you’ve just emerged from the airlock of a massive ship which looks amazing in VR. Everything has such an amazing scale and sense of awe and wonderment as you precariously hover around. This feeling stays with you throughout the game as you move from chapter to chapter as the game offers you bigger and more intricate structures as well as throwing a few unknown crafts into the mix. Personally, I feel the biggest part of Detached is it’s…

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Yeah, I could never find this station again…

Puzzles/challenges:
Okay, so technically some of the tasks you’re given aren’t ‘puzzles’ as such. You are, however, required to use your head in order to think about what you need to do. Each area has its own set of these, even though some of them seem very similar. For example, in the first area, you must enable the communications tower by jump-starting a number of comm stations within a short time by utilising boost pods so you can move around faster. Obviously, if you go too fast and you can’t control yourself then you’re bound to smash your face on a rock! You also need to enable a power relay by using a crate to smash the windows as you travel through the mechanism and avoid the energy beams. There is also a simple puzzle where you have to use a newly acquired power to quickly get through some energy doors and hit a switch. 

Newly acquired powers? Technically abilities, but it’s the same thing, isn’t it?! You begin your survival mission as a lone astronaut with only his suit and thrusters for company but you’ll soon gain access to the speed boost, shield and missiles! The game is a little Metroidvania in its approach as well as you’ll have to go and obtain the shield in one of the abandoned buildings before you can return to another and complete the task at hand there. Then, once you complete that one and obtain the ability you get, you can now go and take on another one in a different building. 

These abilities are all learnt in the first chapter and used heavily in chapters two and three as you continue the story. They all have a limited use before they have to recharge and yes – you can use the speed boost and smash your face into a rock. Personally, I really enjoyed the puzzle aspect of the game and the fact you get these abilities as it kept the game fresh and ensured you had to carefully think about what you were going to do next in order to succeed.

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So much space crap = Banging your head a lot!

Exploration:
Detached is a game about exploring and finding things for yourself – which is both great and also annoying. As you work your way through the chapters, you’ll come across various stations which require items known as ‘Neutral Nands’ in order to operate them. These can be found just floating through space in pre-designated areas but due to the kind of short LoD and pop-in for ‘items’, it’s not easy to see them as you are floating around unless you are within around 50ft. 

Also within the exploration stage, mainly chapter three if I’m being honest, if you venture a little too far out of bounds – or even if you’re trying to float to the edged of a ship to look for the next waypoint – your oxygen and fuel will reduce to a shockingly low amount. This is obviously put in instead of an invisible wall but there is no warning this is going to happy – this resulted in me dying numerous times just because the game thought I was going a bit far – thus causing me to die and lose all my progress. 

That leads to the other issue I had – everything looks the same in space! When you die and respawn at the last ‘puzzle’ you completed, you need to make your way back to where you just were but it’s so hard to get your bearings and work out where you actually were when you died. Just like with the Nands, there are no markers, no map, nothing. I would have liked it, if they didn’t want to break immersion, if we could either pick up a tracking item to track points of interest and Nands or if there was a marker showing our place of death?

So many times I just died floating around because I couldn’t figure out where the Hull was or where that one can of oxygen was which I spotted when I was randomly floating around a few hours ago. It got pretty frustrating after a while.

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The circled item is a Nand – the important item you need to collect – could you spot it from a distance?

Things I didn’t  like:
Okay, so Detached is a fun game and I love its exploration and challenging nature, but there are bound to be things I don’t like about the game which I felt impacted upon my enjoyment quite a bit. These issues only really affected me in chapters two and three though, so let’s talk about that:

Chapter two: 
Without giving anything away story-wise, you’re about to crash right into the backend of a ship and you have to evacuate immediately. Upon doing so, you’re tasked with traversing through a very small passageway without hitting the sides, bouncing all over the place and smacking your head on a pole or the wall and dying. this part is hard! I’ve seen some people do it really easy but I just found it really difficult to control myself as I’m flying down the tunnel at blisteringly fast speeds! Not to mention there is a trophy around making it through this section without touching anything – a trophy I’ll never see.

Chapter three:
Chapter three of Detached is when I began to see the cracks and really started to show my frustration with the game. The issues I mentioned above regarding getting lost and having your Nands reset – that’s a big deal. I would spend around 30 minutes floating around and discovering new Nands, picking them up and then proceeding with a new ‘puzzle’ I’ve encountered. However, because it’s the first time I’ve seen it, I’ll most likely fail at it – like turning on the reactor. That then resulted in me dying and respawning where I last completed something and with no Nands. This meant that I had to spend 30-40 minutes remembering where all the Nands were and then figuring out where the puzzle was as well.

I feel the game should autosave (as you can’t manually save) once you slot the Nands into a machine – at least that way if you die, you’ll just come back at that point and not unfairly taking you right back. Don’t get me wrong though – I really enjoyed the game up until this point and it may just be that I suck at the game or something, but having to repeat a fetch quest with no navigation, no direction, and no help for over 30 minutes everytime I inevitably die kinda started to put me off playing it for a while.  

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Capture the flag mode – pick up a package and return it to the ship before it flies off.

Multiplayer?!
Detached comes complete with a multiplayer mode as well as the singleplayer. The multiplayer is even cross play with all PC versions (VR and non-VR) as well as the PSVR one. However, I tried a few times to join someone in this mode in order to see what it was like but I ended up just playing it on my own as it was about as lonely as actually being in space – which is a massive shame. Maybe everyone who wanted it on PC played it whilst it was in Early Access rather than the final version? That’s my biggest issue with Early Access – the player base actually dies down by the time the full version is out there in most cases! Either way, I saw there are races and capture the flag modes. Personally, I can see it being a lot of fun playing it with friends – maybe a PS4 non-VR version will come out to boost the player base?

Technical:
Detached is gorgeous and the perfect atmosphere for a VR game. As I said previously, from the moment you step outside the ship and you see the scale of the ships and stations around you, it’s brilliant. I was literally just sat there staring at everything for about 15 minutes when I first saw it!  Sure, the game isn’t as clear as recent games like The Exorcist VR or 18 floors, but it’s easily on par with The Persistence in terms of clarity when up close but a bit fuzzy in the distance. However, there is nothing quite like floating in space and seeing the God-rays shine over the tops of the meteorites and ships in the distance as you look around.

Similarly, the audio within Detached is perfect. You have music which really sets the mood, sound effects which if in perfectly and even the voice acting is done really well. Nothing to complain about with the sound. Also, I’m not sure how many people will ‘want’ this but if you run out of oxygen your vision begins to blur and your character begins to hyperventilate. It’s quite horrific and the first time I experienced it I was kind of disturbed by it as I also started to breathe a little funny as it was happening – like I was reacting to the sound of my character dying. Seriously, if you get/have the game – let yourself run out of oxygen and have a listen with headphones on – it’s quite intense!

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Regardless of the game – I think it looks great in VR.

Overall:
Okay, so I have mixed feelings about Detached. on one hand, I really enjoyed the feeling of floating through space, the beautiful visuals in the void, the atmospheric sounds and the satisfaction of completing the puzzles. On the other hand, we have the lack of decent checkpoints, no navigation, the empty multiplayer and the instadeath restrictions of exploration. Technically, I really enjoyed the game, the issues I had may just be linked to me as you may have a better memory and sense of direction than I do and thus, don’t find any of my concerns an issue. I’ll continue to play the game and I will eventually escape with my buddy, but for now I’m just going to have to memorise where every Nand is so I can continue the game much quicker than wasting 30 minutes re-collecting everything each time I accidentally hit my head on something or I fail a puzzle/challenge.

The other thing to note is the VR and how only the hardcore should play this game. I kind of agree with that but I also don’t. The developers have given us the option to adjust the blinders as much as we want in order to combat sickness and adapt it to your own preference. As such, I feel anyone who can play a VR game without getting sick will most likely be able to play the game, they won’t have the best peripheral vision if they crank it up but they’ll at least be able to play it. Once again though – don’t just turn it to 0% and jump straight in, try it out in the practice mode and figure out your sweet spot – 0% was way too much for me but 20% worked fine.

One last thing – Detached’s trophies are crazy. Collect all the Nands in chapter 2 – This will be really hard without some sort of guide, Collect all the fuel and oxygen canisters in the game – same as above, Complete the game in less than an hour – yeah right, Complete each chapter in less than 30 minutes – some people have but not me! etc… There is a platinum but I imagine it will be one of those rare platinums that only a few people ever get the chance to say they achieved it!

Official Trailer:

Final Conclusion:
Detached is a full 360 degrees rotational VR game set in deep space. The comfort levels (blinders) can be adjusted in order to make the game more accessible for VR players but I feel those who are new to VR should probably stay away from this one until they gain their VR stomach! The game looks great with the lighting effects as the suns emit God-rays over the floating derelicts and meteorites, with a matching soundtrack which creates a fully immersive atmosphere and experience. Detached is very unforgiving with its checkpoints and lack of help in finding your goals and required items as it offers an intense challenge as you race against the clock whilst your fuel and oxygen run out.

If you’ve ever wanted to feel what it must have been like for Sandra Bullock in Gravity or what it’s like to asphyxiate then pick this game up today! Just be aware that the trophies are hard and the challenge is real with this one!

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A copy of the game was kindly provided for review purposes

Detached

£29.99
7.2

Final Score

7.2/10

The Good:

  • Really cool lighting effects in space
  • Incredible immersion with the full 360-degrees rotation
  • Realistic asphyxiation sound effects and visuals (for those out there who like that kind of thing)
  • Challenging single player mode
  • Adjustable comfort settings

The Bad:

  • Very hard to achieve trophy requirements
  • Checkpoints are too scarce and almost unfair at times
  • No navigation options to help you find items and waypoints
  • The VR could be a bit too intense for some people
  • The multiplayer doesn't appear to be very populated at the moment

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