The game was designed to be played in Virtual Reality through VR simulators such a the Oculus Rift, although it can be downloaded and played on ordinary computers as well.
Adrift contains examples of:
- 20 Minutes into the Future: The game is set in 2037.
- Anti-Frustration Features: Being stranded up in orbit, Alex needs to maintain her oxygen in order to breathe and maneuver around the wreckage, which since they are a shared resource, will consume O2 at an increased rate. Also, her suit has a puncture, which causes her oxygen to deplete even faster when in open space. The game gives you leeway around this problem by having a large supply of oxygen canisters just floating around in pretty much every area of the environment, both inside and out. There are also oxygen resupply stations mounted on certain walls around the station.
- Bittersweet Ending: Although you survived the explosion (albeit barely), all of the other crew members turn out to be deadyou find each of their lifeless bodies as you travel around the remains of the station. Then at the end of the game, as you are finally returning to Earth, you receive a message from Emily, Elizabeth's mother, who is clearly upset at you for indirectly causing the death of her daughter & tells you that it's time for you to "face the consequences of your actions"in other words, Alex is likely going to be facing a discharge and serious jail time at the very least.
- Cast from Hit Points: An interesting variation, inspired by how real astronauts sometimes control their movements in order to navigate without gravity in space. To properly move around in the game, the player's spacesuit has a built-in propulsion system that utilizes compressed oxygen in order to navigate the floating wreckage in zero-gravity. Unfortunately, it's the same compressed oxygen from your O2 reserve tank, the very thing keeping you alive. Because you need to breathe, the O2 meter is always going down, but moving around in the game will cause it to deplete faster.
- Interface Screw:
- As your space suit takes more damage from hitting walls, cracks begin to appear on your screen and the computer interface that shows things such as warnings and your oxygen level will begin to flicker.
- When you are low on oxygen, the interface will fade to black & white and you'll hear Alex start gasping for air more desperately.
- Nice Job Breaking It, Hero!: Although it is not actually shown in-game, the communication logs you find heavily imply that the explosion happened as a result of Alex's (aka the player's) decision to continuously run the Solaris sunlight system in order to grow the plants in the Spiritus greenhouses faster and thus meet the mission's production quota. One of the last audio logs you can listen to is Elizabeth's formal filing of a complaint & request for Commander Alex to be relieved of her duties for putting the safety of the mission in jeopardy. The other crew members went along with Alex's plan because they just wanted to hurry up & finish the mission so that they could finally go back home after their time in space was repeatedly extended by the company due to the plants initially not growing as quickly as expected.
- Oxygen Meter: The main mechanic of the game. Your O2 supply ticks downslowly in areas that still have life support, more quickly in open space, as your suit has a leak. What's more, your steering jets are using that same O2 supply for fuel. So every time you move, you burn up more of your oxygen supply. Crates full of emergency bottles are floating around everywhere, along with O2 recharge stations.
- Scenery Porn: The views of Earth from space as you move around the wreckage of the station are utterly breathtaking.
- Sole Survivor: Mission Commander Alex Oshima is the sole survivor of a devastating explosion that destroys almost the entirety of the Northstar-IV station. It is also heavily implied that the explosion was caused by Oshima's negligence, with her choice to run the Solaris system past its limit being the cause of the disaster that kills every crewmember except for the person actually responsible.
- Space Is Noisy: Averted. Since the game attempts to depict a realistic scenario of being an astronaut stranded up in space, the entire experience is almost completely devoid of any sound.