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...As I Drift Away...

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Rating: 3.7/5 (63 votes)
Comments (32) | Views (5,171)

TrickyAs I Drift AwayWhat is up? What is down? What is left? What is right? What is wrong? It's been hard to tell ever since you woke up in this place. The few peeks you've had outside of these strange colored hallways make you think that you must be a long way from home. If only you could just orient yourself, you're sure you could figure out what's going on... Created by Edd for the 10th Casual Gameplay Design Competition, As I Drift Away is a Unity3D first-person physics-puzzle adventure that cryptically, yet somehow accurately, describes itself as a lesson in escaping mass, mind, memory, and me.

Using the mouse to look around, and the [WASD] keys to move, As I Drift Away drops you in a world of manipulate objects, buttons, perspective, and gravity. Early in the game you will pick up a golden ring which will allow you to change your point of view in an instant. Merely point to a flat surface, then click the mouse, and you'll be attracted to that surface so as to make the walls and ceiling your new floor. New abilities are granted by collecting yellow spheres, such as being able to pick up and drop objects with [E]. Triggering buttons with yourself or an object will open up further areas to explore. Watch out for those lasers though!

As I Drift AwayAnalysis: Eventually, a game will be made in Unity 3D that will make casual gamers world-wide go "Man! I can't believe that this game was made in Unity 3D!" As I Drift Away isn't that game, but it does showcase a number of the engine's unique features in an engaging way. Understandably, if lamentably, a game being in Unity is often deal-breaker for some, and for all it's faults, Adobe Flash is probably not quite ready to be replaced as the premiere internet gaming medium. However, works like As I Drift Away, that construct worlds that would otherwise be impossible to depict in a browser windows, and make a concerted to feel like a game, rather than a tech demo, are the engine's own best arguments. The controls and mechanics start off a little unintuitive, yes, but you'll get used to them as the game progresses and be rewarded with a rich and immersive experience.

Even as three-dimensional graphics become ever more realistic, the simple and iconic nature of As I Drift Away is hard not to like. It really does look and feel like a virtual reality simulator from a mid-90s science museum, and that gives it an undeniable charm. Of course, bouncing off the walls may also give players an undeniable motion sickness, but its heart is in the right place. This kind of setting encapsulates CGDC 10's theme of Escape perfectly: a location that while nonthreatening, still feels disorienting and artificial. It's a place that you don't mind exploring, but are happy to get out of, none-the-less. That sense sums up the appeal of Escape genre rather nicely. Though the game is peppered with philosophical asides (most with tongue firmly planted in cheek), As I Drift Away wants you to figure things out for yourself, both in relations to its puzzles and the game's larger meaning.

As I Drift AwayIn the judging, As I Drift Away had one of the highest scores in the Innovation category (deservedly so), and one of the lowest in the Technical category (probably also deservedly so). However, a smattering of bug-fixes and polish from the author went a long way to improving the game's stability, so even those who played before might want to give it another attempt. Overall, it is a gorgeously mysterious little game, and one you won't want to drift from until you've solved the final puzzle.

Author's Theme interpretation:

"The overall 'objective' of the game is to escape the bizarre maze you find yourself in, using the strange powers you collect a long the way. Yet there is a deeper meaning, symbolic, about escaping life itself and (depending on whether you find your heart) being satisfied. Furthermore, if you reach the end, you discover a surprising and unique aspect to the maze that objectifies the word ESCAPE." -Edd.

Pastel Games' feedback:

"Game! Why don't you let me skip the logos. I played this game 3 times and each time I had to sit through the menu animation. Come on."

"So at the beginning it's quite simple, there's this ability to shift gravity. But as I go along - things turn for the worse. Here's why."

"Everything looks exactly the same. After few chambers I don't know where I'm going anymore. I have a good sense of direction, but here - I'm lost. There's no indication of chambers being done, locations already visited or something like that. The simplest solution would be to add doors that close behind me, so I can't go back to the already solved parts of the game."

"Other abilities - now you've lost me. I pla on a laptop, and there's no mouse wheel, so I'm done with this game after gaining the ability to make cubes stick. Ok, playing on the PC I was able to go further than that."

"Good idea would be to just stick to one arbitrary ability. Like in Portal. You've got your portal gun and that's it. And KNOWING THAT - gives you freedom to try to solve puzzles within that frame of having just the portal gun. So let's say our only ability is to shift gravity. I've seen flash games that do that - and those were great games. This right here with the different abilities is too much in my humble opinion."

"I can save, but when I die it doesn't take me to that savepoint, but to a checkpoint that you created. Ok, but once outside - and again - I'm not sure where I should go or do - when I reach some difficult platform I wan't to save there and when I die be able to start from there, but it takes me all the way back to the beginning of the outside world."

"The puzzle with rotating cube in the middle of the chamber was the place where I almost quit playing. I couldn't get on the cube. But the I solved it and without all those fancy powers, just by careful placing of the companion cubes and changing gravity. I think I solved it, because the game sure as hell didn't inform me whether I did it or not. There was this strange sound, but who knows. And after I solved it - still lost in the maze - I don't know which pathway opened and which I came from. Again - you need to steer the player somehow to the right path, not toss him in the middle of the maze and let him be. I assumed I was moving forward, because I came to the place where I could go outside, but there I was dying almost instantly after trying to see below from the edge of my platform. Which you do when you play fpp games."

"So, dying and respawning somewhere completely else, not knowing where to go, as everything looked the same - this was the place where I quit. The last thing I managed to get was a piece of heart. And that's it."

"This game felt more like a presentation of some engine capabilities, than a real game. Too generic graphics, repetitive and confusing. The unity engine isn't a game on it's own. Just showing us a 3D environment and tossing in a feature isn't going to satisfy a player. You'd need to render that with actual graphics, some that would at least show us our progress."

"I'm not sure about the gameplay. I got lost. The game should teach me ar be easy enough for me to learn the basics by myself."

"However - the initial idea was good - I liked that. there could have been tons of levels based just on gravity shifting. Think in that direction." -Mateusz Skutnik.

"So after many, many attempts the game gets started (that's why I hate Unity!). It was awkward at first, because the game mechanics aren' t intuitive. I thought that it was just a matter of time to get used to but no it was irritating from the beginning to the end and crush the whole fun." -Karol Konwerski.

Play As I Drift Away


Perhaps you could use a flash player other than something that has caused problems for my computer in the past? Unity and my comp do not get along :(

segaahearn September 5, 2012 2:33 AM

The only bad thing about this game is that you can only rotate the camera so much in a given direction.


Hi segaahearn... can you explain exactly what you mean? I might be able to change my settings, but I'm not sure what you really mean by not being able to turn?


Also, sadly this game just wouldn't work in Flash.

johnpolsonfl September 5, 2012 11:24 AM

Hey Edd. I'm stuck with the middle mouse + R move. I don't understand what I can do with this power, nor how to use it :)

Are you on Twitter Edd or have a website?


I'm at the same place as johnpolsonfl. Not quite sure what to do at this point.

Any help would be appreciated. :)


Hi guys, I'm @eddharwood if you want me on twitter!

There is a build waiting to be uploaded that clears things up a little, I'm just waiting for Jay to stick it up.

Here's a clue:

There are two buttons, how did you solve the last problem with two buttons? Try a similar approach...

crashlanding September 6, 2012 1:53 PM

oh wow I adore this game. Getting started was awkward, as the game mechanics really aren't obvious, but it was really wonderful once I got going.

I would say that each new ability really needs a better explanation; the pictures by each one just aren't enough.

I also feel it's a bit too easy to get 'outside' of the main structure before you have the necessary abilities to really navigate outside. But then, the pointers suggesting where to go next help with that issue.

I haven't quite finished it yet, as I encountered a bug near the end

while I was outside, at the moving blocks - freezing your movement in the path of a block will cause the block to move through you - you end up inside it. The problem is, if you happen to unfreeze while in the block (I accidentally did), you can't get back out. Freeze does nothing in there since you're already on a surface, and you can't select any of the interior surfaces as gravitational directions, so it's impossible to get off the ground again.
It's an easily avoidable bug now that I know it's there, but nonetheless it's disheartening to have to restart so close to the end. I suppose this would be fairly easy to fix, though - either by making the inside surfaces of cubes targetable, or by adding a 'suicide' button, so you can return to the last checkpoint (I can't think of any major ways of exploiting that, aside from perhaps making collecting the hearts a bit easier)

at any rate, even despite that, this is an awesome, amazing, wonderful game. 5/5 on all counts, except for the bugs.


yeah, I loved this. I agree with the lack of rotation with your view. Sometimes when switching gravity planes, your view goes strange and flicks to recentre itself to face the direction you were facing. e.g. I look up, and change plane to the ceiling, as I land on the new floor, my view will flick so I am looking directly up again. Not too much of an issue, but it would be better if I could rotate the view to look anywhere, that way I could follow the gravity shift, and end up looking in the direction I wanted to go when I landed. (If that makes any sense)? Currently, you have a limit to how far you can look in certain directions which prevents this.

Other than that, once you get used to the controls, it's fabulous.


I cannot open the game. It says a plug-in is needed. I have tried in Chrome and Firefox with the same result (working on a Mac). Any thoughts?


Platform: Unity (plug-in info)

It sounds like you need to install the plug-in.


I really want to give this game 5/5 stars but I can't. It is way more immersive than any other game so far that I have played (in the competition) but it has many flaws..

1. The controls are not explained and that made it difficult to know what to do. I still don't know what the Hold ability does.

2. The puzzle towards the end is not possible for me due to the complexity. After getting the hold ability, I have no idea what to do. I can pass through to an area with 3 buttons and 3 boxes but it is impossible to place them on the buttons all at once. And because there are other buttons in other random locations a little farther back, I don't know which ones I'm supposed to press!

3. The place it teleports you back to after you die is disorienting. While I am focused on solving a puzzle and setting up blocks carefully, I die and lose all progress, and am sent back to a point where I no longer want to continue.

At first I was lovin' this game but the confusion got to me and I got lost and frustrated. No idea what was going on then, as everything looks the same. I have to give this game 4/5 for being more in depth than any other so far but it loses a point for all of the difficulties. Wonderful concept but not so good execution..


Hi guys, thanks for the nice comments from people who tried to stick with it!

That freeze inside moving boxes bug completely missed me! I'm sure I can come up with a fix, at least to respawn if necessary in the options.

The rotating wildly thing I just couldn't fix... my brain couldn't work it out. I was considering not rotating at all, but unfortunately it has to rotate. The floor needs to by at the bottom at all times, and you can't rotate 3 axis with a 2 axis mouse. Sorry about that... I wish a proper coder could come in and fix it!

This is my first game, and for some reason I decided to make something ridiculously confusing, for a casual games competition! Idiotic! Though i am writing an article about it and how playing your own game is not the same as playing someone elses... which you would have thought was obvious really.

The puzzle with the 3 cubes and 3 buttons:

The hold power actually means hold the mouse button down for varying times to achieve different strengths of gravity.

Technically you don't need it for this.
Just use the ability that fixes you in place to float in the right line as the button, then change gravity to direction of the cube then let go. One is particularly tricky and requires changing as gravity as it floats away, but its quite fun if you get used it it! The buttons do not have to hit all at once!

Seriously a huge credit to anyone who finishes this! Next game will not be so crazy... I hope.

Anyone who finishes with all the secrets (which I think only one person has even realised exists) wins a special prize!


Like Linkzcap, I really want to love this game, but the three button puzzle was entirely too confusing compared to what I had to do until that point. Still, I love the concept; it's possibly still my favorite of the competition, and I love that you aimed high, even if it didn't turn out perfect.


New version is up with save games, respawn button in menu (press esc to access). Also fixed the moving boxes bug, thanks for pointing that out!

Don't give up too easily... the three button puzzle really isn't too hard when you get your head around it.

The problem is probably I tried to fit the ideas of a full game into the length of a 30 minute casual game!


I'm playing with a trackpad (inadvisable, I know). Is there a way for me to use the power that involves the middle mouse button?


The little diagrams for each power should explain it? R for Middle button and F for Right button. They should work!

glenn.anderson September 12, 2012 10:18 AM

Love the movement, but my biggest frustration is the fact that the cursor is not restricted to within the frame, i.e. in order to look around sometimes, I have to move my mouse cursor outside of the Unity frame, and clicking then means nothing. It means that I have to position the center retical where I want to go, click outside the box (which sometimes clicks on an Ad link or, even worse, to a link that takes me away from the game) and then click back inside the frame again. I'm using the latest FireFox. So, you need to increase the sensitivity of movement or make some other correction for this - I can't play it otherwise.


Linux user here, so no Unity, no drifting. :-(


Hi Glenn,

Mouse is locked in game to the screen - but sometimes alt-tabbing out or leaving in some way causes the mouse to become unlocked.

The solution for this is to click in the game - hit esc, bring up menu, and click continue. That will (should!) re-lock the mouse to the game.

I probably should code in a lock to the game if the mouse loses focus.




Also... cu, I believe Unity is coming to linux in unity 4. Not sure on the state of the web-player, but certainly stand-alone will come soon. Sorry!


New reasons for me to hate Unity:
Unity: fatal error loading content
Firefox: crash
(download and install new Unity player)
Unity: fatal error loading content
(disable old Unity player)
(refresh several more times because Google and Reddit aren't responding)
Firefox: crash
(try once more)
Firefox: crash

Firefox is latest version, with plugin container disabled (because it would occasionally delay keyboard input by several seconds).


I'm really sad, I managed to see the last corridor (I think), with all the power ups, but at this moment, a wall slides to block the way back, and after a death, I respawned to the other side of that stupid wall, and I haven't the faith to restart from my last save.


How on earth did you manage that?! That's a horrible bug! Really sorry about that. I will have a look at it and somehow make sure that's not possible!


Definitely needs some polish, and for that alone I think it shouldn't be held as high as other entries, but I really enjoyed where you went with this. Well done on the puzzles! I enjoyed working them out. Very unique gameplay. I also would like to see a better explanation on the controls though. And I'd recommend making the left and right keys for turning rather than strafing. Keep working on this!


So, is this game impossible to play for those of us who don't have a middle mouse button?

I'm trying to do the puzzle with the

2 blocks, 2 buttons, 2 corridors, right after getting the "Stay" ability. I position one block on the button (either box, either button, same issue) nice and centered, seem to get it to Stay... but then before I can get over to the other corridor, the block stops holding down the button and actually floats up into mid-air!

At first I thought I was doing something wrong, but then I noticed (after checking comments here) that the instruction for "Stay" in the bottom margin says R + middle mouse button.

If the middle mouse button is essential to solving even one puzzle, then lots of people are not going to be able to complete the game. I use a laptop with a trackpad that -- like most trackpads -- has no middle or scroll button. Not all mice come with middle/scroll buttons, either; people find that they mis-click on the middle button too often if one is there, so they choose mice with just the two standard buttons.

I can probably re-map one of my less-used keyboard buttons to act as a middle-click button (unless the scrolling functionality is necessary, not just the button-press). But 1) Re-mapping keys requires a bit more tech savvy than I think the average casual gamer has; and 2) a hardware requirement really needs to be noted somewhere -- here on the review page would be good, in the game itself should be essential -- so that people who don't have the right hardware can either acquire what they need to play the game, or choose not to play it.

Starting to play a game and then hitting a technical roadblock just after finally getting immersed in the game experience is supremely annoying.

Oh, and I found what I think is a bug: on one playthrough, before getting to the point referenced above, I got outside and wandered around further than I'd ventured off previously... That one time, instead of the game screen going white and re-spawning me inside after I

fell away from the structure into space, I just kept going, watching the structure dwindle away (despite my attempts to click on it) and finally vanish from sight. And I just kept going, falling through the void, for well over a minute

before I reluctantly refreshed the page -- and had to start the whole game over again. If that's intentional, I hope Edd will consider changing it.


Just read this comment...sorry for delay.

Bit confused by the keys... the little guide of keys at the bottom says you can use middle or "R" key and right mouse can be "F"? Maybe I didn't make that clear enough?

Also no idea how you fell outside of the respawn area! There should be a cube encompassing the whole map that ensures you can't go too far. Strange, must be a bug somewhere! Cheers for noticing. You can always respawn in the menu (esc) if necessary.

vulpisfoxfire October 16, 2012 4:25 PM

Konrad--when you say latest Firefox, do you mean 15 or 16? 16 still has some rather bad bugs in it, and for a bit even the devs were suggesting downgrading. Dunno if that affects *this* issue...
Also, with your comment about the plugin container delaying things...I hate to say this, but are you sure your system is strong enough to be using Unity?


I'm a hobbyist game developer and I absolutely love unity. It does what I once thought it was impossible: almost as simple as a game maker and almost as flexible as writing your own engine.

I really like this game. Interesting and somewhat original (I've seen gravity switching before, but I don't remember any being in 3d)


Can somebody please walk me through the rotating cube puzzle? I know that the Drop ability is used because it is found in the room with the rotating cube, but I don't know how I get the cube to stop on the right face for the right length of time. Thank you!


Frustrating to the point of unplayable which is a shame cos it looks good

chiliverdeac June 20, 2014 11:26 PM

This game is not meant for people who get dizzy easily. The controls were difficult. Have to agree with Vienna that it isn't very playable. :/


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