REVIEW: Trajectory

As an inmate spending your last remaining days of your sentence, you are tasked to complete various assignments on a quasi-governmental space vessel. Do you obey and earn your freedom, or look for another way out?

Steam: Released
Type: Single-player
Genre: Casual, Action
Developer: Sky Trail Ltd
Publisher: Sky Trail Ltd
Release date: 10 March, 2017

Serving time in space

As soon as you start Trajectory it’s clear that the environment has been planned for a VR experience. Call me old school if you wish, but I was still impressed by just looking at my monitor. This review was made purely on the desktop version. This game offers some great views: standing on the sand dunes of planet Earth or walking the hallways of a spaceship that’s falling apart; it’s a treat to see what might be around the next corner.

Gameplay Video

The graphics in Trajectory are beautiful, as they should be in a game that’s designed for VR.

There was some minor graphical glitching on occasion while jumping along the walls, but nothing drastic, and those were also the only bugs I encountered. Occasionally the lens flare blinded me completely, but those moments were few and far between. The game ran at a stable 60 FPS on the highest setting (‘epic’) on every option at 1920×1080 resolution, even on my mediocre rig (960 GTX, i5-4460, 8 GB RAM).

The game includes a few other locations to explore in addition to spaceships. These feature various puzzles to solve, and eventually, escape, though I don’t know who would want to risk escape with only a few days left in the can. I remember the first quest I received in a spaceship that was breaking down; I made my way forward while the floor and walls we’re being torn away, pieces of them flying off into empty space. Needless to say, it looked great, and I’m can’t wait to see it in VR.

We get to explore some spectacular locations.

The game begins situated in space, with gravity as an issue outside the main vessel; you have to move items, and jump and move around in zero gravity. There are large open spaces where you have to use the debris to bounce in your desired direction, and you have to jump across very large distances. Physics play an important part, too; how fast you collide with an object determines the speed with which the object moves away from you.

The in-game physics seemed to be in order, at least as far as I know how objects behave in zero gravity. Nothing seemed out-of-the-ordinary to me while I was running into everything, and grabbing and throwing things around whenever I had the chance. Some fun jumping sequences have also been constructed around this mechanic. Just be cautious though; falling down won’t kill you here, but it is frustrating to start over from the bottom while you’re still learning how your character behaves in low gravity. Once you do, though, it’s fun to jump and float all around the places while climbing up.

This could cause problems with my fear of heights.

Learn the basics

One big thing that I encountered was the lack of in-game tutorials. I was completely lost in the beginning before I thought to check the Steam guides for the game, which featured a kind of manual in the form of general tips and a walk through. At first I didn’t quite know whether I had done the right thing, since the game didn’t give me any indication. In the end I resorted to the guide quite a lot, which reduced the joy of finding things out on my own. However, even though the guide does detail all the missions, there are still a few things in the game to find by yourself that are only hinted at. Some optional tutorial missions would have been a better idea in my opinion than resorting to a Steam guide, since this broke the gaming flow a bit. But on the bright side, I did feel nostalgic about the days when I would browse the manual while playing a game to learn it.

If you do want to venture out without a guide, there is a lot to find in this game: coordinates for other planets to make your escape, accessing areas off the beaten path, easter eggs, and multiple endings to discover. At first, the game feels really simple, until you learn the ropes, then it starts to open up and surprises you again and again.

Be careful of what you touch, don’t make adjustments you don’t understand.

Attend to your duties, inmate!

Half of the game takes place in the last three days of your incarceration, and the other half takes place with either your escape or gaining freedom by legal means. I liked how you are given the chance to skip those three days and call the security guard right away, so you can start reaching for the multiple endings this game offers and see the other locations. The fact that you aren’t forced to live those first three days all over again shows to me that the developer has faced the same thing as many players or other games: those boring grindy moments that we wish we could skip when we need to do a certain thing at a certain point in a game. This and the possibility of declining certain missions or assignments is a very user-friendly decision.

If you choose to play out the first three days, you can either do your daily work assignments from our warden to increase your chances of freedom, or search for a way out yourself.

Assignments vary from cleaning the prison vessel to cooling down the reactor core. They are clearly different from one another to keep things interesting, and they’re occurrence is randomised. Some are simple, quick jobs, while others are much longer, such as breaking out of the prison block for testing purposes. The game’s puzzles aren’t hardcore, provided you know the mechanics and how things work (remember the Steam guide!), so they’re fit for even casual players. And if you really don’t want to do it, and you can even say no to a mission, although this lowers your overall rating in the eyes of your captors.

Missions are situated in various places, including in the prison vessel; in an additional vessel with some randomised elements in layout on missions; in virtual reality, where you must dodge the correct shapes and reach to the end of the stage (no, you don’t need VR-headset for this either); or with a drone outside the ship, putting out fires or collecting cargo. After the initial difficulties with understanding the game, I never felt bored with the missions but I wouldn’t play them for hours; they would quickly become repetitive. Short gaming sessions in which I completed a mission few times was enough to keep having fun, while not letting them become a chore.

We need to find our way without touching the rectangles.

As I said, you do have options. You can try to escape on Day One, and that’s when you’ll get to see the other planets. Following this path means you don’t have missions or assignments, but instead you’re searching for a way out. If you’re feeling especially brave (or vengeful), you can go to the mothership of your captors and take revenge by sabotaging their ship and eventually destroying it. It’s completely up to you.

Should you buy it?

Yes! At the time of writing Trajectory costs 9.99€. The game is short and not designed to be played for hours, but ten euros for a game that is as open as this and offers such beautiful views is a fair price. I can see myself installing this every once in a while to play a few missions that were fun. Especially with a VR headset, the game world is nicely crafted, traditional science fiction.

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