Tethered Review

Yarn, when in a shape of a ball, that so many find it to be synonymous with; is an object of recognisable, and widely renown structure. And in more ways than one, it is very similar to the games of the real-time strategy genre, as the core structure of all such games is alike throughout this specific genre of strategy titles. And now, decades after the inception of the first RTS titles, many find it to be monotonous, and in some instances archaic, as it has changed very little over the years. And it is to no surprise that developers are starting to put a spin, on the now stagnating RTS genre.

The most recent attempt at revitalisation of the true and tested RTS genre, has been made by the Secret Sorcery, who just last week, has released Tethered, a real-time strategy game for PlayStation 4, and most importantly PlayStation VR.

Tethered, at its core is a real-time strategy game, with mechanics such as resource collection, building, and population management, which many in this day and age are familiar with. However, unlike the games of the olden days, the mechanical structure of Tethered doesn’t end there, in fact, this is only where it begins.

In Tethered, the player who is in control of the game, is not like the god who divides and conquers, but is more like the previously mentioned ball of yarn. And this is because, with each and every action, the person in control is unrolling the ball, and attaches it to one of many interactive objects, and/or characters visible on the screen. However, once the string is attached to object A, which in this instance could be a Peep, an in-game character, it then has to be cut off, and attached to another viable object in order to create a link between the two. For example, one can create a link between a Peep, and a wood mill, in order to maintain a steady supply of wood, which is necessary to build certain buildings.

Tethered’s leading mechanic which concerns creation of links between objects and peeps, is fairly fun, and can keep one entertained for hours. However, the constant need to precisely connect two objects over a playground, which gets increasingly busier with every passing minute, can become quite frustrating.

The frustration which arises from Tethered’s main mechanic, in contrary to popular belief, is not located within the need of creating a link between the two objects. But rather within the visual nightmare which is caused by the way in which the title is controlled outside of the VR environment.

When in-game, the world of Tethered is controlled solely with the use Six-Axis/controller motion movement, and at first such seems reasonable, as the simplest of actions can be carried out without any issues. However, once the playing field begins to expand, so does the logistical juggling which one has to indulge in, in order to keep him/herself alive. The issues with the motion-only control scheme arise mostly when player has to make a connection between a Peep, and an object which is located on the other side of the map. And this is because certain maps feature a plethora of environmental obstacles, such as mountains, trees, and other tall objects, and sometimes such objects make it impossible to create a link between a certain Peep, and an item which the player wants to link him to. And such turn of events usually leads to an overlong process of complete reassembly of the Peep workforce.

Once the push comes to shove, when the player is forced to completely restructure his/her assembly of Peep workforce, additional issues begin to creep in. Issues which in the long run, can completely ruin the game to some people, especially the ones who suffer from motion sickness. And this is because, a complete overhaul will require the player to jump from cloud to cloud, in order to alter the in-game perspective. However, once the player does so, there is a high chance that the controller will lose its point of reference, and in turn, will force the player to bend over backwards in order to achieve even the most banal of objectives. And yes, controller can always be re-centred with a press of a button, but once one begins to re-centre his point of view over, and over again, he/she may start to feel dizzy, and nauseous.

Dizziness and nausea, can negatively impact the way in which one perceives Tethered, but ultimately, not every single individual will be affected by the above-mentioned side effects, especially outside of the VR environment. And even after taking into the consideration all the negatives which come with Tethered, all should at least give it an honest try, as it is as good as it gets, when it comes to RTS games on consoles. But before you go out and buy, the rather cheaply priced Tethered, you should keep in mind, that it will most likely be for the better if you approach this particular title with move controllers, rather than DualShock 4, as the basic controller control scheme is the source of all the negative points of the otherwise brilliant Tethered.

 

REVIEW CODE: A complimentary Sony Playstation 4 code was provided to Bonus Stage for this review. Please send all review code enquiries to editor@bonusstage.co.uk.

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