Tethered- PlayStation VR Review

 

How would you like to be a God? Games have given us the chance to pretend to be a god many times. With games like populous we tinkered and played at being the almighty controller of our little people’s lives. Tethered_20161105142256

Well now there is a new God sim and it plays unlike anything you have ever played before. I’m talking about Tethered on PlayStation VR.

In Tethered you are the Spirit Guardian for a series of floating islands. The inhabitants of these islands are the peeps. Little creatures who are happy to do your bidding. During the day you tether them to the task you want them to do, gather food, resources etc. By discovering various books of knowledge hidden around the island you can unlock new buildings and abilities. These allow you to train your peeps into different roles such as warriors, farmer and miners. If the resources start to get low they can be replenished using the various different weather clouds. Sunshine will make the fields grow, rain for the woods, ice for the rocks etc. These can also be combined. Mix a sunshine cloud with any other to make a rainbow or combine two clouds other than sunshine to form lightning.

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During the day all is well in the happy peeps little island. At night though, danger crawls out from underneath the island in the form of creatures set on destroying your work and attacking the peeps. As their spirit guardian it’s your job to keep the peeps safe and keep them from harm. If you don’t they will fall into despair, find the nearest ledge, and step off falling down into oblivion.

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Sounds like your fairly standard god sim right? So what makes Tethered different? Put simply, it’s the VR aspect. In VR this is like having your own table top playing area to work with. The world seems real, more lifelike than playing on a standard screen, which really draws you into the game world. The islands have clouds strategically places around the edges which you use to switch your view. You can tell the placement of these has been carefully thought out with enough to cover the whole island but not too many so as to be confusing.

Having a 3D environment like this does present challenges though. For example, keeping track of everything that’s going on can be a difficult task in this type of environment. Secret Sorcery, the studio behind Tethered have solved this problem through the use of the 3D audio PSVR offers. Small musical stings tell you when something has happened be it a new peep egg to hatch or a new cloud arriving. Each of these is easily distinguishable and designed in such a way as not to interfere with each other when things get hectic. The 3D audio not only tells you when but also where it is happening. It’s a wonderful use of the headsets audio and really helps make the world real. With 13 islands to complete each growing in complexity Tethered is a game that will keep you playing for a long time.

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This game really surprised me. I wasn’t sure what to expect from it thinking of it as probably a “nice idea” game form an independent studio but I’ve got to say I’m totally hooked! Tethered has fast become one of my favourite games both in and out of VR. Is it perfect? No, there is room for improvement in it. Some of the later islands can get hectic with so much going on which usually ends up with the entire peep population taking the final dive off the island. When that happens though it’s simply a case of taking a step back, working on your technique and trying again.  While the game itself is great it’s what it represents and the possibilities it opens up that really excite me. Virtual Warhammer 40k anyone? Dungeons and Dragons? Command and Conquer? Whatever your strategy game of choice is this could be where its future lies.

Tethered is available from the PlayStation Store now

Updated: November 5, 2016 — 3:12 pm

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