We first laid eyes on Caretaker Sacrifice at PC Gamer Weekender back in March, where we met Byron Atkinson-Jones, founder of Xiotex Studios. Since then, Caretaker has evolved from a small, first instalment in a two-game series, to one big game. For those that are unfamiliar with the game, Caretaker Sacrifice is a sci-fi 6DOF adventure, puzzle and shooter set at the end of time. Recently launching on Steam Early Access, it currently consists of a small set of levels that give you a good indication of what you should expect of the finished product.
Firstly, it’s important to note that this is a short Early Access demo of the game, so there’s no time to waste! Upon agreeing that what you are about to play is still in development and is subject to change, you’re thrown straight into Caretaker. There are no instructions or hints – you’ll have to work it out yourself. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, as it encourages you to practically comb each level looking for stuff however, it may stump you at first.
Starting off inside what appears to be an alien machine or spaceship, you encounter a puzzle that requires you to power up a collection of satellite-shaped apparatuses to create a number of blue streams of energy. Meanwhile, you’ll also have to keep an eye out for enemies that heavily resemble six-way pipe joints, neutralising them with one short burst from your weapon. Following this, the subsequent puzzles are all quite similar, whilst still encouraging you to explore. You will have to locate and neutralise small red buttons that activate portals in various areas within the ship. As a result, you will then receive snippets of information regarding why you are on the ship and the events leading up to your arrival there. Therefore, one thing that I find really interesting about Caretaker is the story - well, the little of it that I have unearthed so far.
Informed by the disembodied voice of Stargate’s David Hewlett, I quickly discovered that “everyone’s dead” (even Hewlett) and that I have just woken up from a sleep that potentially could have lasted thousands of years. The stars have all gone out and I’m all alone. This feeling of being alone in a foreign environment is simulated very well, thanks to Caretaker’s vibrant colours and focus on bold shapes and lines to furnish the interior of the ship. Combined with the atmospheric soundtrack, it’s very easy to quickly feel immersed in the game and consequently makes encounters with enemies all the more startling. I have only come across a small selection of enemies so far but I guarantee that the strange buzzing/droning noises that they make will definitely make you want to shoot them down quickly. They are also quite fast and will close in on you if you don’t shoot them almost as soon as you see them, so that’s worth bearing in mind. Moreover, everything that I have seen so far in Caretaker seems incredibly mysterious. Whilst trying to locate one of the buttons that opens the portal, I found graffiti on one of the walls that spelt out a serious and quite concerning message. This was a great addition that spurred me on to explore as much as possible, in hopes that I’d find more clues on the walls.
Despite the interesting designs of each level and peculiar contraptions that I found along the way, I found that my experience was tarnished slightly by the game’s current field of view setting (which as far as I’m aware, cannot currently be altered by the player). Unfortunately, I am one of the unlucky few that suffer with motion sickness and soon discovered that Caretaker brought on waves of nausea and light-headedness. I don’t usually suffer with motion sickness when playing games however, it was particularly bad when I was playing Caretaker, to the point where I actually had to play the demo in two halves so that I could recover. Of course, this is a personal problem and may not affect others as severely. Nonetheless, navigating through each level currently looks and feels quite awkward. Everything feels far too large and close-up and I also had trouble adjusting the camera as smoothly as I would like. This becomes quite problematic when you are trying to locate the pieces that you need to complete each puzzle as it’s easy to miss them. However, Xiotex Studios already appears to be on to this issue, addressing it on Twitter by proposing to add a radar in order to make it a bit easier for players to track down the things that they need. This certainly sounds as though it will be a helpful addition and may appear in the game shortly.
Overall, I would say that Caretaker Sacrifice is still a very mysterious title that I’m eager to hear more about. Although I felt quite sick for the majority of the demo, I’m really curious to see which turns the story is going to take and how I’ll feature in deciding the final fate of humanity. Furthermore, I would like to see which types of puzzles are included in the next few months. A few days ago, Atkinson-Jones announced on Twitter that he will be bringing a further thirty-eight (estimated) levels to Caretaker, so there is a lot to look forward to. Extra keyboard controls were implemented yesterday, enabling players to skip levels by pressing ‘N’ and a new level has also been added. In addition, when we spoke to Atkinson-Jones back in March, he also stated that Caretaker will have VR support, enabling players to experience the game using the Oculus Rift. This is a pretty exciting prospect, seeing as Caretaker operates with the player being suspended in mid-air, meaning that they will actually be flying around the ship. Therefore, I believe Caretaker is offering a unique experience and it will be great to see which measures will be put into place to avoid VR motion sickness.
For now, GameWatcher will be keeping a close eye on Caretaker Sacrifice. We’ll be on the lookout for new levels and updates and will keep you posted throughout the rest of the game’s development. Xiotex Studios is also very active and open on Twitter so if you’re interested to speak to the game developer yourself, you can find him @Xiotex.
OS: Windows 7
Memory: 4 GB RAM
Graphics: Shader model 3
DirectX: Version 9.0c
OS: Windows 10
Memory: 8 GB RAM
Graphics: Shader model 3
DirectX: Version 11
Caretaker Sacrifice launched on Steam Early Access on 17th August so it’s available to play right now. It is estimated that it will remain in Early Access for about two months so if all goes to plan, we should expect the full game to release around the middle of October 2016.
Most Anticipated Feature
Finding out more about the graffiti on the walls – who wrote those things and why?