REVIEW / Glitchhikers: The Spaces Between (Switch)

What the hell was that??!! I don’t mean this in a disrespectful way but sometimes you come across a game that genuinely makes you question your life choices. I don’t have a problem with weird games and I actually like being surprised by something that’s truly off the wall but I’m not currently sure whether I want to put my console down and immediately book myself in with a therapist. The game/thought experiment/mind-expanding … something … that I’ve been playing is Glitchhikers: The Spaces Between. Is it worth investigating though? Well, the question is more, “would you like to be investigated by a game?” You’ll see what I mean as we progress.

I’m very reluctant to call Glitchhikers: The Spaces Between a game as such. I’d be more inclined in calling this a thought experiment. This is a game that makes you look at the bigger picture and asks you some interesting and sometimes quite uncomfortable questions regarding how you feel about some pretty deep topics. When one of the first things you’re hit with is how meaningless you feel in a universe that will completely forget about you, you know you’re in for one hell of a ride. Just to be clear, this isn’t an exercise in causing depression, this is one of a myriad of different questions you’re presented with, it was just one of the first I came across.

Fancy a drive? Don’t be in a rush to get anywhere, it’s the journey that’s important.

I’m going to place a very important note here before going any further. As I’ve just mentioned this is a game that confronts you with some very deep topics. This being said, if you’re suffering from depression or having trouble dealing with certain subjects I’d think very hard about playing. It’s going to go one of two ways for you. Either this will be a brilliant tool to help you think about the bigger picture more clearly or it’s going to be a series of potential triggers. This is a game of psychology and whether I enjoyed my time with it or not is irrelevant when it comes to your own safety and mental health. Maybe do a bit of research first if you’re not sure how you’ll handle what you’re being presented with. As a last note on this, you can turn certain question subjects off in the settings. This is a great tool that makes this title more accessible but at the same time, you might be diluting the experience for yourself. Everyone is obviously an individual, so have a think about how much of a difference this will make to you personally before buying.

In Glitchhikers: The Spaces Between you’ll meet a series of unusual characters. As you join them on their journey, either by car or by train you’ll get into conversations about the bigger things in life. The reason why I’m not sure I’m comfortable calling this a game is that there really aren’t any wrong answers to the questions you’re being asked. These are largely philosophical questions or ones about how you feel about a certain subject. This being said, it’s all about your own interpretation of what you’re being presented with. It’s a very unusual take and completely unlike anything I’ve played before. Considering this isn’t really a game as such, it keeps pulling me back so there’s definitely a draw here. I think part of the reason for this is that Glitchhikers is the sort of game you can play in small doses and feel very satisfied in doing so. I’m less sure how much fun marathon sessions of this game would be, largely because you’re going to end up with a very tired brain and this is the opposite of what I think this title was designed for.

No such thing as a wrong answer. This game helps you focus your thoughts.

First, two things that I think are worth noting are that this isn’t a frantic experience, and you can’t die. Glitchhikers: The Spaces Between isn’t the sort of game that’s giving you some over-arching objectives and asking you to complete a series of tasks to get there. The experience here is a chilled-out one. You begin your journey at a rest stop and I recommend chatting with the owner first. He is sort of a tutorial but you’re invited to go back to him whenever you like. As you have conversations with the different characters in the game, the owner will store them in the form of drinks and fill the freezers in the rest stop with them. This is a cool little way of collecting and helps you track your progress as you go.

From the stop, you can take more than one path on your way to self-learning, (this review is starting to sound like a new-age self-help pamphlet,)  and the first I took was by car. This sees you taking a leisurely drive on the highway, picking up various characters as you go. Each of these will present you with a question based on their own circumstances and you’ll need to talk them through whatever is going through their heads. This in turn sees you reflect on things that you wouldn’t normally think about in your day-to-day life. The other initial path you can take is by train and instead of picking up passengers, (you’re not driving the thing,) you can move about as you please and talk to any of the riders present. As you progress you’ll open up the park and a very eerily quiet plane terminal. I’ll let you experience these zones on your own when you play.

The characters you meet are quirky and likable.

It’s so hard to try and explain to you the point of playing a game that’s purely existential. I can’t tell you how far I got or what I did, whether I hit an insurmountable difficulty spike; or any of the things that I’d usually be pulling apart in a review. All I can say I that I had a really chilled-out experience and just, played. There’s no real pressure to do anything in this title. This is a game that isn’t really about the end goal, it’s purely about the journey and who you meet on the way and as that journey is your own, you can do pretty much what you want. You’ll never meet all the characters in one playthrough so going back again and again for more journeys is all part of the fun.

I’m going to take a look at the things that are always present. We call them the nuts and bolts for a reason. Firstly the graphics are blocky and distinctly retro. The color palette being used is as chill as the rest of the game and the music fits the aesthetic perfectly. You’re being encouraged to let your mind wander, with the quirky cast of characters you’ll meet along your way helping you focus your thoughts and it’s all very fitting for the theme. Look and feel-wise it’s all rather lovely. The controls are as simple as you can get and everything works just as it should. There’s nothing in a physical sense to complain about.

How about a stroll in the park? This is literally what getting lost in thought might look like.

So why aren’t you going to go and grab Glitchhikers: The Spaces Between? Well, the first reason is going to be the most obvious one. For me, this is less game and more experience. If you’re looking for something a bit more traditionally objective based you’re not going to find it here. This is a very different way of playing and while I’m having a rather good time exploring the world I’ve been presented with, this might just be the wrong pace for some of you out there. Another reason why it might not be a go-to for you is the fact that it’s a bit off the wall. Something being unfamiliar can equal it being uncomfortable for some people and I completely get why. Lastly, there’s that very real reason that as I mentioned earlier this title could be a bit triggering for some. Mental health comes first, do some research before purchasing.

If you’re the sort of gamer that loves to experiment and wants to experience something new and highly unusual you’ll definitely find it with Glitchhikers: The Spaces Between. This game is so different from anything else that I’ve played that it merits further investigation on the simple basis that it’s just so bloody curious. If you like the idea of a bit of mindfulness and just letting a game draw your thoughts in different directions without the stress that comes with a conventional title you might have a lot of fun here. I feel like I’m rambling a bit with this one, but it’s because Glitchhikers is an absolute 10 out of 10 for what is for me. I’m just having a few problems deciding exactly what that means.

An interesting journey
  • 7/10
    Look and Feel - 7/10
  • 10/10
    Originality - 10/10
  • 8/10
    Replayability - 8/10

Very much outside the box

Glitchhikers: The Spaces Between is unlike anything I’ve played. This is a game that as I’ve explained is much more of an exercise in mindfulness than a game in the traditional sense. This is an interesting experience and something that can be played in short bursts. I’d call this more of a tool to get you thinking than a game as such but I still really enjoyed my time with it. The negatives are more down to what you’ll want your gaming experience to be as a player. If you fancy something totally different from anything else you’re playing at the moment, this is a really good way to go.