Tethered is a “god-sim” / strategy game where scale plays an important part of the functioning of the game. Traditionally, I have not always been the biggest fan of these kinds of games (I have argued that “sims” aren’t games in a technical sense, that they are, indeed just “sims”). Keeping theoretical game function aside, Tethered does add a little more to the formula, which kept me interested. I’ve played a variety of VR titles since launch, and Tethered’s perspective made me enjoy the physical experience that I wouldn’t normally get in this type of a game. The perspective reminded me a bit of Allumette (which is a short animation), and the PSVR Playroom demo, and Wayward Sky (a point and click sort of adventure). Eventually, I am hoping for a full-fledged platformer from this vantage point in VR, but Tethered offers a solid experience to move us closer into realizing the dynamic nature of VR.
When starting Tethered, you can see a floating land mass waiting to be populated with little Gizmos (this is not their official name, the game calls them “peeps”) that hatch from eggs. The Gizmo’s are assigned certain types of jobs on your little utopian society. As far as gameplay is concerned, Tethered is a relatively simple game that you’ve likely played before, but the Gizmo’s are cute, the scale emphasizes the “god-sim” genre, and the controls feel relatively seamless. Although the game has the “god-sim” feel, it almost feels like an old school Warcraft game at times. The introduction of a combat system (albeit, a light one) adds a dynamic that pushes the game into a strategy genre. The combat is not the only thing that adds to that dimension, the gathering of a variety of materials to build new structures that will allow you to upgrade your peeps pushes the game beyond a mere simulation. I may be getting caught up on the sim vs. strategy piece, but these additional assets are what made Tethered a fuller game for myself. Tethered is made up of a lot of moving pieces and does well at each individual component. With the blending of genres here, I do wish that combat or resource building was a bit more in depth, but given the platform and new ventures into VR, Tethered presents a solid game.
As you progress through Tethered, there’s a lot of moving parts to keep up with. You’ll need to be collecting crystals to bring back to your primary shrine, as well as the additional resources to build new structures. Keep an eye on the weather clouds that can regenerate your resource stocks, and be aware that when night falls, this is when combat happens. Upgrading your peeps to a variety of jobs (to allow them to mine more or attack for a higher damage) is necessary. Each of these individual aspects of the game creates an entire system that feels smooth and fun to play.
The audio of the game is perfectly curated. It certainly matches the aesthetic of a cute world, but feels vast, which is appropriate for the landscape and point of view of the player. It’s obvious that the creators felt this way too, as the game comes with a soundtrack when downloaded.
As far as VR is concerned, the game is clear and addresses the issue of movement in an intelligent way. Cloud hopping integrates well with the theme of the game and allows players to choose a stationary or more dynamic method of playing (although it will become necessary to move every once in awhile if you want to find crystals that may be hidden behind a certain cliff). The game should not make anyone sick due to locomotion, and thus makes for a solid VR demonstration.
The most impressive thing about tethered is the ability to truly zoom in and out of the land you are creating. Although you do not have free range of each map; instead you teleport to different sections and are able to see a variety of points of view from above. I think most people could find Tethered to be an enjoyable experience. It’s a gentle, slow-paced (although when you have 20 -something peeps rolling around in different jobs and it turns nightfall when enemies appear, it can feel a bit chaotic), VR title that’s worth the investment. Not everyone will be attracted to the game, but if you like sim-type games with strategy-lite elements, Tethered is sure to please.
REVIEW CODE: A complimentary Playstation 4 code was provided to Brash Games for this review. Please send all review code enquiries to firstname.lastname@example.org
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