This short space-themed adventure is billed as an experimental experience. What that means, in this instance, is that it doesn’t look or play like a conventional video game. Think of it as an interactive abstract art museum, or a virtual kaleidoscope filled with particle effects and deep space scenes. If the sound of that doesn’t appeal, you won’t find much in this review to change your mind.
The most grounded thing here is the main character, always in clear view. You control an astronaut, and on a scene-to-scene basis, they may be walking slowly, hovering, or freefalling. Movement is the only thing to focus on – none of the face buttons on the controller are used outside of menus. Ergo, it’s entirely possible to play it using just one hand.
The experience lasts around 2 hours and takes place in dozens upon dozens of small areas, with returning locations including a watery planet, the depths of space, and a chamber filled with particle effects. Some areas have mirror effects applied, splitting the screen either vertically or horizontally, with this being one of trippier visual filters.
Progression relies on either collecting something or heading towards something. There are no prompts or clues – it’s up to you to figure out what’s required. Often, you’ll start walking towards a large object – believing that’s your objective – only for it to vanish, leaving you to spin the camera around to find something else noticeable to walk or fly towards. This may be a downed UFO, a spacesuit belonging to a presumably deceased cohort, or a colossal monolith. Occasionally you may have to spin the camera to bring objects into focus too.
Visually it’s reasonably impressive, and a good thing too, seeing the art direction is one of its few merits. The water planet has realistic looking waves, the spaceman himself features a lot of detail – right down to tread on their boots – and the glitching effects are generally appealing.
But as an experience, it never really ‘clicks’ or gels. There isn’t enough interactivity and only the barest threads of a story. Most gamers will likely expect more, especially with the £12 asking price in mind. 2021’s Exo One offered a similar but far more rounded experience. Perhaps the experiment here was to discover if there’s a market for this kind of thing.
Vladimir Kudelka’s Afterglitch is published by Hangonit Studio. Available now on Xbox One, Xbox Series and PC.