Gather ’round all ye young and old, as I have a tale to tell.
This is a story with multiple layers; it takes place on Twitter, in the depths of one man’s troubled mind, and eventually in outer space. What happens when a man who seemingly had everything finds his life in turmoil because of a mere three sentences? Does he curl into a corner in order to hide from the world, or does he find a way to redeem himself with one of the most stunningly beautiful creative projects the entertainment sphere has seen in years? Yes, the title of this article completely gives away with answers to this question, being that everyone who pays attention to the finer aspects of the video game industry knows the man in question. Let’s pretend for just a moment, however, that you stumbled upon this article with no knowledge of Adam Orth, his major Twitter misstep, or the ensuing creative outlet that is consistently leaving people in awe. That’s right, I’m going to assume you’re completely ignorant for the next few sentences because I’m the author here, and that’s what authors do.
Journey back to April 2013 with me, if you will. The gaming community is on the cusp of a new console generation, with the PlayStation 4 being announced roughly two months prior and the Xbox One reveal roughly six weeks away. Information on Microsoft’s newest console was flowing like the Mississippi, and judging by the always contentious world of Internet comment sections, the general public was not too happy with what it was learning. There was word of games being bound to their owner, of limited software sharing among friends, and of a console that always had to be connected to the Internet in order to function. Sure, those of us who lived near major metropolitan areas weren’t all that concerned with the idea of having to always be online, but there was a major section of the nation who feared that they wouldn’t be able to play Halo or Gears of War due to spotty connections. Microsoft was literally leaving so much money on the table that it eventually reversed course on June 19 of that same year, and the rest is history.
I’m not going to go into graphic detail about the things that Adam Orth said on Twitter in regards to the Xbox One’s initial features. Frankly, I respect his work far too much to make him relive the gruesome details of one of the worst times in his life, and this article is meant to be celebration of the promising game that came out of one of the darkest moments of his life. Quite frankly, I’d be a pretty big jerk if I turned this article into a rehash of the lame click-bait articles that revolved around one-man’s personal Twitter feed. Of course, I did make the assumption earlier that you were completely ignorant of this situation, and in the interest of continuity and ensuring that you actually continue to trust me, I’ll give you the basics. However, I’m certainly not a normal writer, and this is certainly not a normal article, so I’m going to phrase the entire explanation in the form of a terrible sandwich metaphor, because why not?
Basically, Adam Orth worked for one of three major jelly manufacturers in Spring of 2013. This particular jelly corporation made a rule stating that any sandwiches made with its jelly had to be made with pumpernickel bread, no questions asked. When the masses brought up that perhaps it wasn’t feasible for the entire country to eat sandwiches on pumpernickel bread, Adam responded with a remark that was taken the wrong way. He thought that those who wanted to use this particular jelly should make due with the pumpernickel bread because that’s just the way that things were going to be. Needless to say, Adam didn’t work for this particular jelly company for much longer. The End.
Now if the story were to end right there, this would wind up being a depressing tale with a pointless metaphorical paragraph and I’d look like even more of a lunatic than I already am. Thankfully, there’s a happy ending on the horizon, and it comes in the form of ADR1FT, a first-person exploration title set in outer space. It’s a breathtaking game in more ways than one (your character literally gathers oxygen in order to stay alive), and if all goes according to plan, it’ll be the next-great non-violent narrative experience. Though, to be fair, even if it fails to capitalize on the promise shown during its PAX East demonstration, it’ll wind up being tangible evidence of Orth’s inspiring redemption.
ADR1FT tells the story of an astronaut caught in the midst of a spacecraft wreck; there’s no combat, no overarching enemy other than oxygen, and the narrative is not one of epic video game heroism insanity. The only goals are to seek out safety and figure out the fates of the main character’s comrades, so if you’re coming for the breakneck action and Michael Bay level explosions, you’re sorely out of luck. It feels weird to call a game grounded when there’s no, you know, ground anywhere (Author’s Note: Don’t worry, I’m shuddering at the awkwardness of this myself), but that’s exactly what ADR1FT is. While I was only able to see a small slice of gameplay, it was hard not to get the sense that this is a real human story set in a completely unorthodox situation. Orth himself stated that the ending is going to subvert every player expectation, though I’m not sure whether this is due to some epic twist or the fact that video game stories are largely ridiculous in general.
Three One Zero’s interstellar (yes, the use of this word was intentional) adventure is one of the best looking games the world has ever seen. Now, whether or not this was a result of me witnessing gameplay on a massive fifty-foot movie theater screen is anyone’s guess, but the setting certainly didn’t hurt the visuals in the slightest. If you’re looking for a game to show off your new PC’s chops, this is the title for you. Every inch of ADR1FT is stunning, from the photorealistic leaves littering the space station to the sheen on every white oxygen canister. What’s shocking is that Orth and his team have been working on this project for less than a year, and when you take into account the fact that it’s slated for a Summer release, it’s a technological marvel the likes of which we may have never seen. Oh, and in case you were wondering, yes ADR1FT will have full Oculus Rift support, so you’ll finally be able to live out that weird astronaut fantasy your parents crushed when you brought home that first B- in Math.
When Orth opened the floor for questions, I knew right away what I would ask. I wasn’t ignorant to who he was, and I wanted to find out the connection between this game and that unfortunate situation he found himself in in April 2013. The thing was, I wasn’t prepared to be that guy who asked the rude question about his Twitter blunder right after he demonstrated his passion project. In fact, if that guy was in the theater, I’m sure he would have been tarred, feathered, and forced to play The Letter repeatedly until his eyes bled. I could see the passion emanating from Adam during every moment he spent talking about ADR1FT, so I wanted my question to be one that allowed him to touch on what makes this project special to him while giving him the opportunity to address the elephant in the room. When it was my turn to pose a question, I started with eight simple words:
What makes this game important to you, personally?
I wasn’t prepared for what Orth would wind up saying next; in fact, his answer was so moving that I was convinced of ADR1FT‘s merit on the spot (though, to be fair, the gameplay demonstration was mind-blowing). Before diving into exactly why ADR1FT was a special title, he started his short monologue with, “This game saved my life.”
The entire room instantly empathized with him; here was a guy who made a single mistake, was crucified for it, and subsequently put all of his emotions into a beautiful creative project. Say what you will about ADR1FT‘s narrative potential, its gorgeous world, its impeccable sound design (really, it’s one of the best sounding games I’ve ever heard) and its unique survival gameplay, this is a game that served as the platform for a man to place all of the weight that was on his shoulders. What’s even more impressive is that it shows. Every inch of ADR1FT feels like it had love put into it, and when you consider its short development cycle, that’s a feat in and of itself. Assuming that it launches this Summer, some might question whether or not enough time was put into making this experience all that it can be. Consider, for a moment, the power of the human spirit; is it really that strange of a thought to think that the passion that went into ADR1FT sped up its development cycle?
Whether or not ADR1FT will prove to be a satisfying three-hour experience is still up in the air; after all, we really haven’t seen that much footage at this point. However, judging solely on the gameplay I’ve witnessed, as well as the passion of the Three One Zero team, it’s safe to say that this is an experience that will be intriguing, to say the least. ADR1FT‘s PAX East demonstration was breathtaking, hair-raising, and chilling all at once, and if the footage I watched elicits the only instances of these feelings, it will still be a game worth trying out. After giving it a few days thought, though, if I’m a betting man, I’d gamble on ADR1FT being somewhere between great and extraordinary. There’s simply too much at stake for Orth and his team to bungle this one, you can bank on that.