Quick Hit: Tethered for VR
I picked up Tethered for the PS4/PSVR a few weeks ago during one of their flash sales, and I hadn’t gotten around to kicking its tires until last night. The game follows in the well-worn footsteps of “ensure that these adorable creatures survive since they can’t think or act for themselves” titles that stretch back to the days of Populus.
Of course being a VR title (though it can be played in “plebe mode” if you’re interested) you get a bird’s eye view of the small floating island that comprises these creature’s living space. Using the PSMove controllers, you can scroll around like you’re creepily dragging your disembodied self across their landscape and can zoom in and out by bringing your hands together or moving them apart (think the finger gestures you use on your phone or tablet to enact the same). By turning your controllers like you’re turning the wheel of a car, you can rotate your view. I had a few issues with these controls at first, but I like how they work. Traversal in VR is a problem that anyone has yet to really solve with confidence, and on a small map, this scheme works as well as any other.
You start with one “Peep” and from there you need to harvest raw materials and food and mystical crystals which give you, the deity, your power to do stuff. New Peeps arrive as eggs, and you need to have an existing Peep sit on the egg so it doesn’t spoil…if it does, it hatches a larva which is bad news for your population. In between you need to build buildings, assign roles like farmer and soldier, and at night, defend your island against ever more aggressive slugs that will destroy your hard work. In addition, you have access to clouds, which are exactly what they sound like. There’s a sunshine cloud, a rain cloud, an ice cloud, and a gyre.
The name Tethered comes from the act of assigning item A to task B. You tether a Peep to a resource to have it harvest. You tether a Peep to an artifact to have them unlock it. And you tether a cloud to an area on the map to enact a specific task. Once the Peeps have farmed a plot dry, tether the sunshine cloud to that plot to re-grow the crops. You can even tether weather to one another to create a rainbow (increases the spirit of the Peep it’s tethered to) or lightning (which I assume blows shit up).
I’ve only done the tutorial but Tethered is a solid, strategy-lite VR game so far. The Peeps are cute, the landscape is well rendered, and when you need to send your minions into battle at night, it can get frantic as you’re jumping all over the island vantage points looking for invaders. My wife played a game called A Kingdom for Keflings on the Xbox which followed a similar arc of guiding helpless villagers to build and survive, albeit without the combat, and I think she’ll like this one as well.
Tethered is also available on Steam, and can be played with and without VR.