Floating through the sky, broken and separated, the islands of the world need your help. It is up to you to free your fellow Spirit Guardians entombed inside ancient collapsed Totems, overgrown with thorny plant life. Wielding your elemental powers, you must garner help from the local inhabitants of these islands; The Peeps. Devoted to a fault, they will follow your every command, but without guidance, they will lose hope and suffer from despair before taking the ultimate plunge off the sides of the islands.
Across the 13 different islands in Tethered, you must start with nothing but the remnants of civilization with the goal of gathering enough Spirit Energy to awaken and set the Guardians free. As you collect additional energy, life will begin to flourish on the island, transforming the drab brown islands to bright green full of life. It becomes quite clear that your involvement on these islands is the only chance for the locals to survive. During the day, hungry and lack of motivation are all you have to worry about, but come nightfall, foul slug-like creatures will traverse the islands, attacking your Peeps and stealing previous resources.
The islands are highly detailed, especially for an early PlayStation VR title, with subtle details that you’ll come to respect, such as birds soaring through the sky surrounding the islands, butterflies fluttering about, and waterfalls splashing down across running streams of water falling over the edges of the islands. Your Peeps, once hatched from eggs, either directly using the power of direct sunlight or from another Peep sitting on the egg for a short period look quite similar. Sure, there are some color palette swaps for skin tones and clothing, but they all have the same proportions. They remind me of Lemmings, except slightly more intelligent and far more useful.
The key to a great strategy team is resource management, and your local workforce won’t put up any argument to any of your orders. Food must be harvested, either gathered from locally grown mushrooms found on the islands or harvested on a farm, trees must be cut down for lumber, and stone and ore must be mined. While anyone in your workforce can complete any of your tasks, you can assign specialized roles to your Peeps after building specific buildings. These roles make your Peeps better at each of the jobs, such as fighting monsters, and gathering all of the game’s resources.
As you alter your view on the current island landscape by teleporting between the clouds surrounding the islands, you can also use the weather to your advantage. I already mentioned the sunshine could hatch eggs, but I didn’t mention that if you fail to hatch eggs before they turn brown, a monster will pop out of them instead, even in the day time. As each of the weather types have multiple uses, the sunshine can also help you replenish your farm and even give a Peep a throwable grenade attack. Each of the other weather elements can replenish the other resources, as well as have secondary effects. Combining two different weather types together can also create a rainbow or a devastating thunderstorm. Rainbows are the only way to cure Peeps suffering from despair, and storms can kill monsters in a single impressive lightning strike. Be careful what you select, as you may end up selecting your Peeps by mistake.
Tethered focuses on using head movements as the main control mechanic in the game. After focusing on the Peep you want to give an order to, you use the control to lock in your choice and let go when you point at what you want them to do. It’s quite similar to using a standard drag and drop control scheme, except you are using your head to point at each of the objects. The 3D space provides some great uses of depth and allows you to lean around certain objects in the environment to locate hidden crystals, and more.
Tethered is a magical strategy game, with cute characters, and enjoyable gameplay mechanics. It’s been quite some time since I had fun with a God-like strategy game, and Tethered is one of the best PlayStation VR games currently available. It’s a shame there isn’t any way to continue a level after meeting the goal requirements, but each of the thirteen islands is quite lengthy.
Note: The review for Tethered is based on a digital PlayStation 4 copy of the game, provided by the publisher.