Away: The Survival Series - First Impressions From The Gliding Demo

Featuring breathtaking aesthetics, and some very in-depth flight mechanics.
The gliding demo for Away: The Survival Series has dropped, and here are some things you should know about it.
The gliding demo for Away: The Survival Series has dropped, and here are some things you should know about it. Breaking Walls

Last week saw the first playable demo drop for Away: The Survival Series, a game I’ve been following pretty closely ever since it was first announced back at Sony’s State of Play months ago. This very unique take on the adventure genre lets you play as a Sugar Glider in its natural setting, as you progress through a harsh and unforgiving environment.

The released demo showcased one of the key aspects of the game, which is the gliding you do as the Sugar Glider. The footage that has been released so far for Away shows much of this in action, as between climbing up trees and hiding in the undergrowth from its natural predators, the Sugar Glider also glides to propel itself great distances and catch its prey. Circle of life and all that.

I finally got the chance to sit down and play it for myself yesterday, and it was a pretty interesting experience overall. You can still download the demo for free here, but be warned that it’s quite hefty at 4.8GB. It comes in a compressed file that you need to unpack, after which you’ll get the folder containing the files you need to play. No need to tinker around anymore, just click on Away’s program icon and you’re there. It’s a bit sad that the demo is only for PC and not PlayStation 4, since I think that there is a sizeable audience there, so let’s look forward to something like that in the future.

After a brief intro showcasing a trailer for the game, you get to the landing page. There are some graphical settings to be tinkered with here, but they’re all locked to single options like low, medium, high, ultra high, and documentary experience. If your system can handle it, go for documentary experience as it really highlights how beautiful the game is. The lighting and textures all look really well made, and the shadows give it an incredible level of depth.

Since this is a demo, it wastes no time in putting you in the midst of the action right away. You get to see the Sugar Glider start off from a log atop a cliff, and your goal is to glide and follow an insect. It’s all simple stuff, but soon I’ll come to know that this is easier said than done.

Gliding is pretty basic stuff. While you can play it with a keyboard and mouse, I feel like it shines more when used with a controller. The controls seem simple enough, but there is a bit of challenge when it comes to steering the Sugar Glider in the air, as it’s part of the challenge to try and avoid trees, terrain and sometimes other animals as you try and catch the insect.

It takes some time getting used to, and the blue circles that you go through to get a speed boost can be a blessing or a curse, depending on what your next move will be. I figured after some time of playing that Away must be operating its gliding on the same scale and mechanics as the one implemented in the Batman: Arkham games, where freefalling or gliding downwards will give you a speed boost, while turning upwards will slow you down. Getting too much speed, like nosediving after going through a blue circle, could spell a wipeout; going upwards too often can lead to the opposite, where the Sugar Glider can somehow lose air and hit a higher rockface.

While there is a learning curve, I thoroughly enjoyed it. There’s a great sense of accomplishment when you finally learn the ways of the Sugar Glider and you’re able to zig and zag your way out of the forest to finally catch the insect. Catching the insect is quite rewarding as well, as the Sugar Glider performs this neat little front flip in the air. The environments all look amazing, and there’s this kind of soulful feeling while you see the Sugar Glider zip through the thick of the forest.

There are three stages to complete for the gliding, each one harder than the last, which is amazing if you want to challenge yourself even more after completing the first stage. After completing all three, you’ll go into exploration mode, where you can glide anywhere in the areas you’ve explored previously and find these curious orange circles.

What will going through them do? Well, let’s just say that Away didn’t have that Kickstarter campaign for nothing, as you get a chance to play as other animals as well in this demo.

Away: The Survival Series will be released on the PlayStation 4 and PC via Steam sometime in Q1 of 2020. You can check out its still ongoing Kickstarter campaign here.

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