Tethered from Secret Sorcery original released on PlayStation VR, which means it required players to use PS VR to make it work. But then the team decided to update the game, making PS VR optional, thus sorta turning the game into what they’re dubbing “Untethered” – a new take on their strategy release. How does the game fare without PS VR? Read our Tethered review to find out!
Before I dive into reviewing the game, I did want to mention that the latest update that made PS VR optional also added something extra to the game for PlayStation Pro owners: Tethered now loos even better thanks to a native 4k resolution at 60 frames per second. As expected, this is only available when enjoying the game in its “Untethered” mode, sans the PlayStation VR component.
Tethered puts you in control of a Spirit Guardian tasked with taking care of the Peeps. Turns out that their island has been overrun by nasty creatures who are up to no good, creeping in the dark night as they try to steal the valuable resources the Peeps need to survive.
Controls for the Unthetered mode are easy to understand since the DualShock 4 takes care of things with its motion controls so that you can view in any direction by moving the controller around. If you need to recenter the camera, you can press down on the R3 button. There’s a cursor on the center of the screen, and this is how you’ll be able to select options and interact with the Peeps. If you think the motion controls are too sensitive, you can configure them on the options menu. And if motion controls are not your thing, you can even deactivate them to be able to use the analog sticks. You can absorb spirit energy with the L1 button and tether with the R1 button. You’ll also be able to slow down time with the L2 button or speed up time with the R2 button.
Things kick off with a tutorial stage on Mara Dubh where you’ll learn the basics of the game. Your target for the tutorial stage will be to gather 200 spirit energy. Everything starts with an egg, but you need to understand that blue eggs are good and brown eggs are bad. Tethering is useful for, say, moving the sun’s rays towards the egg so that its heat can speed up the hatching process. Once the egg hatches, a Peep will pop out. You’ll then need to point at the Peep, press and hold the R1 and then point at the nearby obelisk so that the Peep can regenerate it. This will release spirit energy, which you can absorb it to heal the land.
Peeps will tell communicate with you with prayers, and you must pay attention to them. For example your first Peep will tell you it is hungry, so you must help it reach a food source. So off you go and press and hold the R1 button over your Peep as you move the camera around for it to find valuable food, which it will store. A Peep without something to do will fall into despair and that is not good! Your next action will be to use your first Peep to incubate the second egg that will drop on the island. After this, the next action will be to use a Peep to excavate an energy crystal. But there’s a problem: the stream is too strong for any Peep to cross! But what if you were able to, say, freeze the water? Luckily there’s a nearby cloud that is rather cold and which can be tethered to the water so that it freezes.
As you harvest materials, you’ll notice they end up running out. If this happens, you can use the elements to replenish them! Fields are regenerated with the sun, rain regenerates wood sources, icicles replenish stone and zephyr will restore ore. Keep this in mind before you completely run out or else your Peeps won’t have anything to do and they might end up in despair! You can also upgrade resources by holding down on the R1 button as you tether a Peep to it – this will make it so that the resource doesn’t run out as fast.
As you heal the land you’ll unlock artefacts which will grant you the secret knowledge needed to build a structure. Your first structure will be a field, but for you to be able to build it you’ll need materials. First up is wood, so use your Peeps to collect 12 woods to be able to build a field. The more artefacts you have, the more things you’ll be able to build, and your second piece of knowledge will unlock the barracks. These will quickly come in handy since you need to build them to allow Peeps to defend themselves at night! Barracks will turn Peeps into Heroes (up to two for each barrack) so that they can properly attack enemies. Sure, all Peeps can indeed attack, but heroes can take a beating and deal some considerable damage!
After the barracks you’ll get a chance to build a moot hall. This is very important since it will allow you to promote up to two Peeps into craftsmen in one of five professions. Farmers will improve the yields of food from fields. Prospectors will make it so that you obtain a greater yield from crystals. Woodsmen, as expected, will make it so that you can retrieve larger quantities of wood. Quarrymen will increase the yield of stone from every trip made. Miners are great at extracting precious ore, making it so that your Peep can get more of it with every action. Got it?
Structures can also be upgraded, so be sure to collect enough resources for you to tether a Peep to the structure you want to upgrade. For example, the moot hall can be turned into a tavern which will allow Peeps to enter to relax. This will remove some of their stress while also healing their wounds, making it vital for the morning after a long night of fighting the good fight against the deadly enemies that come out when the sun goes down. There’s other upgrades available for the structures you unlock, but I’ll let you find them on your own!
After completing a level, you will be graded in four categories. Pastoral, for how good you were at taking care of the Peeps, Spiritual for how much spirit energy you collected, Elemental which is based on how you used the weather, and Temporal for how fast you were able to complete the level. For the tutorial you probably won’t get good grades since you’ll still be learning what you can and can’t do in the game, but don’t worry since every level you play will help you improve your skills considerably.
Tethered includes a full trophy list with a Platinum, and it’s one with a varied list of objectives as well as some that require a lot of hard work. You’ll get a handful of trophies for completing the tutorial since you’ll be rewarded for building the barracks, upgrading a resource, building the moot hall, upgrading a building and for completing the tutorial level, but after that trophies are not as easy to unlock. There’s one in particular that will require a lot of time since it asks that you get nothing but A grades for each of the four categories for all levels in the game, so good luck with that!
Tethered is a fun release that is now available for all PlayStation 4 owners to enjoy. By removing the PS VR requirement, Secret Society has made it possible for millions of console owners to give this game a try. There’s plenty of content to explore, and with a solid set of gameplay mechanic as its foundation, you’ll be spending dozens of hours helping the Peeps succeed. Are you up for the challenge?
This Tethered review is based on a PS4 copy provided by Secret Society.