Tethered: A hidden gem of the PlayStation VR – Preview

Tethered Preview

With the abundance of games coming out at launch for the PSVR, it is easy to overlook some of them. Up until now, Tethered, a game created by Secret Sorcery, a team of former Evolution Studios developers, seems not to have gained the notoriety it deserves, as the game is beautifully crafted and  presumably incredibly addicting.



While the original trailer unveiled a rather simple story, the game mechanics, the hand-painted art style and the immersive audio make this game worthy of consideration by any fan of Virtual Reality.

 

Tethered – What is this game about?

Tethered is a mix between a simulation game and a survival game. You have to take care of cute little creatures, named peeps, that rely entirely on you as you act as their God. Your goal will be to fill an ancient obelisk, located on one of the many islands that compose a level, with the spirit energy that you can collect around the world.

The more peeps you have, the more spirit energy will appear.

 

Tethered Gameplay - Peeps
A busy peep is a happy peep – Tethered

 



 

You can order peeps to collect resources, help in the construction of buildings or hatch eggs to increase their population. The peeps need you to guide them at all times and if they feel left alone, without a purpose, they will start to despair and finally jump off the island and commit suicide. That is, however, not the only danger that you will face, as evil creatures appear at night.

 

Tethered features a day/night mechanic. Roughly every four minutes, the night will fall upon your world, and evil creatures will appear from beneath your islands.

And as they can steal your resources and kill your peeps, you will have to fight them off. You can either fight them using environmental objects, such as thunder clouds or your peeps can attack them directly and use various buildings to help defend your islands.

 

Central gameplay mechanic: Tethering

The name of the game instantly reveals what you will do most of the time: tether, or tie together, various objects in the environment.

 

 

Object types

We can classify the objects in the environment into three broad categories:

  • Island objects (resources, artifacts, buildings)
  • Sky objects (Sun, Snow cloud, Zephyr, etc.)
  • Peeps and creatures

 

You can tether peeps to resources so that they collect them, to artifacts so that they learn how to build specific buildings, and also directly to buildings, which will have different effects depending on the type of the building. We have compiled a list of all the available buildings, which can be found below.

 

Furthermore, you can tether sky objects directly to peeps, which will give them armor, if it’s a snow cloud, or weapons, such as fiery projectiles, if it’s a sun. The production of individual buildings, or the hatching of an egg, can also be accelerated by tethering the right kind of cloud.

 

But Tethered′s gameplay has another level of depth. You can combine sky objects together. A snow storm and a Zephyr for example, will create a thunder cloud that can be used against the creatures that come to attack you at night. Each sky object will interact differently with the island objects and the peeps, so the combinations are numerous.

Understand your possibilities and react quickly to build your islands and counter any obstacles you might face.

 

Tethered Gameplay - Island
Make the island your own! – Tethered

 

Build and customize your island

As soon as your first peep activates the obelisk, you will be able to start building on your island. You will start with one artifact, which will give you plans for a particular building.

An interesting twist is that not every level begins with the same artifact. You might have a level where you can build fields first, making it easier to find food, or another level, where you start with the temple, making it harder to feed your peeps, but easier to collect spiritual energy.

 

Buildings

There is a total of six buildings in the game:

  • Field – grows food, that you can harvest
  • Temple – helps to create more spirit energy
  • Barracks – upgrades into various defense towers
  • Workshop – crafts items and weapons (?)
  • Moot Hall – trains your peeps into different professions so, they can collect resources more efficiently

 

While the purpose of most of the buildings is clear, the role of the workshop was not yet officially announced. It seems like it would be used to create better weapons and other types of items, but that is pure speculation.

The Moot Hall can upgrade into three different buildings: the Tavern, which helps your stressed and hungry peeps to feel better, the Clog Maker, whose function is unknown, and the Hatchery, which lets you collect more eggs and build the Franken-peep – a time-limited peep with powerful attacks.

The Barracks can upgrade into the Pyromancer, the Armourer, and the Watchtower. Their names are pretty self-explanatory, and even if it was not officially announced, it is evident that the first will use fire, the second will be a defensive building, while the third has been confirmed to use a catapult that requires stone to function. The upgrades of other buildings are yet unknown.

 

 

There are three resources used in the construction of buildings on your island: wood, ore, and stone. You need a certain combination of these to construct buildings and upgrade them. Another resource, food, is solely used by your peeps and is necessary to their survival.

 

Professions

  • Hero
  • Farmer
  • Prospector
  • Woodsman
  • Quarryman
  • Miner

 

By training your peeps into different professions, they can specialize in a certain aspect of the game. Combat is the focus of only one profession, the hero – while the others augment the collecting of a specific type of resources.

 

The gameplay is a strong quality of the game, as it polished, varied and offers a certain depth. Furthermore, the replay value is quite high, as you might want to try a combination of different buildings and peeps. However, what truly sets Tethered apart from the other simulation and survival games is the immersion it provides.

 

Tethered - Night Gameplay
At night they come – Tethered

 

An immersive experience

When take a closer look at the game, it becomes apparent, that the developers tried to get the most out of the PlayStation VR headset. Since you are a god, you also have the perspective of a god – you are being forced to look around all the time and make sure to keep an eye on everything, that is happening around you.

 

The peeps will react to your head movements and sometimes even imitate you! They somehow actually feel alive, and it is easy to get attached to them, which makes their suicidal impulses even more dramatic.

 

Music and 3D Sound

Another strong point of the game is the music. The day, the dusk and the night all have their own themes, and every sound effect, such as the one when you tether a cloud to a peep, changes given the time of the day.

So, while being completely projected into that world, the developers made sure that even the audio enhances the peaceful feeling associated with the daytime and the danger during night.

 

Art

Secret Sorcery only used hand-painted items, which adds an artistic side to the game, and gives it its personality.

The peeps design is adorable. And various animations appear truly beautiful in Virtual Reality. For example, the buildings, when they get built, rain down from the sky, particle by particle.

 

Virtual Reality is about offering new experiences and it provides a great canvas for developers to express their ideas, and for gamers to experience them. Tethered is made by developers who understood that, and tried their best to provide an amazing PSVR experience.

 

Final Impressions

While Tethered would have been a well-polished, but not-so-special game, if it was only playable on a simple TV screen, the fact that it is entirely made for VR makes it really unique.

Not only is the world beautiful and immersive, the gameplay is well thought-out and the game also seems to be challenging. If you take your time, a level can take up to one hour to finish.

You can also replay any level and try to finish it as fast as possible to get the highest score. How about feeling not just like a God, but like the best God this game ever saw?

 

 

We sincerely hope that our impressions of the game will spark up your interest. The game is set to launch in October, only a few weeks after the launch of the PlayStation VR.

If you finally get your hands on the PSVR and want a unique simulation / survival game, try Tethered.



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