Wow, I wasn’t expecting this, but Tethered just became my favourite PSVR game. Why? Well, let me tell you why: it’s bloody brilliant. Within the first 30 seconds of being made a God of my own floating island world, I’d sworn out loud several times. “Holy sh*t! What the f*ck!? This is mental!” Yep, from the moment I’d been given ultimate power of my Peeps, I was suckered in.
As Tethered is a PlayStation VR game, you naturally need to wear the headset, though you don’t need the additional PS Move wand controllers; the game is played entirely using the head-tracking and DualShock 4. I’m happy to say that it controls really well, too. You use the on-screen cursor by moving your head around, and you initiate actions (tethering) by pressing the cross button on the DualShock 4 pad. It’s a really simple set up that just makes life a little easier, something that’s more than welcome in a console strategy game.
At its heart, that’s what Tethered is: a strategy game. Your job is to protect your Peeps (the little fellas that inhabit your worlds) and to help them prosper. You do this by making sure they aren’t killed by the evils of the night, and you also need to make sure they aren’t driven to suicide. No, that wasn’t a typing error; they will literally off themselves out of boredom. To be fair, we’ve all been there. [Editor’s Note: Chris, are you OK? Do you need to talk?]
It might sound a little glum, but it’s actually a really good motivator to do your job as God to the best of your ability. Naturally, then, I slacked off and watched as the sad little gremlin-looking gits took the plunge, one by one. I even waved them off and, rather foolishly (they can’t hear you…), shouted “do a flip” as one of my Peeps took the plunge into the great unknown. I wasn’t a nice God, but that soon changed.
Much like Bruce Almighty, once I’d had my silly fun I settled down to see what I could do for the good Peeps of Chrislandcountrywherealltimesaregoodtimes. Yes, it’s a mouthful, and no, you don’t get to name your own islands. Shame, really, but I guess I’ve just proven why the developers didn’t make it a feature…
The opening act teaches you the mechanics; you’ll learn how to move your peeps around the world; how to hatch new peeps; how to collect resources, and how to build structures and use the weather to your advantage. You also learn how to ‘tether’ things in the game world together. For a game that’s as cute as a button, it’s surprisingly deep. I didn’t expect much going into it, but once I’d finished off the tutorial level and collected enough Spirit Energy to advance further, I was a little taken aback by just how much there is to do. It’s also worth noting that even just on this beginners level I had a hard time keeping track of my
slaves subjects grateful Peeps, though that’s not necessarily a bad thing.
By having more than handful of Peeps to manage, I soon found myself neglecting their basic needs. Not out of spite (sometimes out of spite…) but because I just wasn’t paying attention. The little fellas will trot around, doing the tasks you assign them – some may be miners, some may be farmers, that’s for you to decide – and icons will appear above their heads to tell you what they need. So if Dave is thirsty, he’ll have a beer glass above his head. If Dave is sick and needs rest, he’ll have a cross floating above. It’s your job to manage these guys and keep them from going into despair. Dave parched? Tell him to get to the tavern for a few pints. Exhausted? Pub. Injured? Pub. You’d be surprised at how many ailments a visit to the pub can cure.
There’s a total of 13 levels to play through with each one offering different challenges. The aim of the game remains the same, though you’ll need to work through some basic puzzles and use your noggin a bit more. Each level runs for between 30 minutes to an hour, depending on how you play, and each level is completed by collecting enough Spirit Energy. What is Spirit Energy, I hear you cry. It’s the game’s little way of giving you a reward for doing good deeds. And you get it just for simple tasks, too, but the more you have, the better off you and your Peeps will be. Simple.
Presentation-wise, Tethered is right up there at the moment. Looking down upon your world as a God would is really quite impressive. Moving your head around to get a good look at the Peeps is mesmerising; I spent a good 20 minutes just poking my head in their faces, calling them all sorts of names. Yes, I know they can’t hear me, but it made me feel good. I told you I wasn’t a very nice God…
It’s hard to describe how a game looks in PSVR as you really do need to see it, and no screenshots that we take will ever do it justice. Think of it like this: it’s like having a big play set right in front of you. A play set that doesn’t break and can’t be ruined by small kids running around it. It’s truly a very beautiful game, and it uses the PSVR’s strengths wonderfully, and not to mention the charming audio work throughout the game. I’m not really one to pay attention to music and what not in games, but every time a little sound effect chirped into my ears, I noticed it and I knew what I had to do; some of them work as audio cues, others are there just to add to the game’s lovely atmosphere.
What’s really special about Tethered is that this isn’t just an ‘experience’ that’ll last you a couple of hours; it’s a full-on game that gives you value for your money. It’s £20-£25 on the PlayStation Network (lower price for PS Plus) and it’ll see you playing for a good eight or nine hours at the bare minimum. Then there’s the replay factor. If you want to beat your own times, collect everything, get the trophies, you’re looking at doubling it, easily. If you’ve got a PSVR and you’re looking for something that’ll keep you busy for more than a couple of hours, you can’t go wrong with Tethered.
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