Glitchhikers: The Spaces Between

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Glitchhikers: The Spaces Between review
Justin Van Huyssteen


Meditative chill time

Let’s just get this out the way:

Let’s just kick this off by saying who this game won’t be for, because it has a definite audience that does not include certain people. If you want a game that challenges you, that requires reflexes and skill... then this game is not for you. In fact, you can even have a meta-conversation with a character in-game who will tell you that the very definition of “gameplay” is subjective. This game is all about the narrative and the atmosphere. It’s a walking sim with a strong narrative focus, minimal traditional “gameplay” and pretty aesthetics.

Alright, so that should be enough to dissuade those uninterested in such games from reading further, so to those who are interested, what can you expect from this thing?

What "gameplay" there is

At its core, Glitchhikers: The Spaces Between is a first-person, meditative exploration game. Think something like Dear Esther but with more ways of actually interacting with the world. You are an unnamed traveller, and so you are, presumably, yourself, and you’ve arrived at a pitstop of sorts. This pitstop has a character inside who will discuss some features of the game and will even break the fourth wall if you ask him to; this game very much knows that it's a game.

From this central hub, players choose between several different "journeys" to go on. At first, you are limited to two, but the others unlock as you progress through the world. It would probably be best to discuss each of them in some light detail, but to discuss them too much would be to spoil the narrative, and as this game is all narrative, that would be a bit of a problem.

Players can choose between a train trip, a walk in the park, a car ride and an airport terminal. Each of these journeys have their own specifics, which we'll get into in a moment, but first, the general gist. You go on each of these little journeys and interact with various people who will have conversations with you. These conversations are about a wide array of matters, and some of them can be triggering to certain people, and so the game makes sure to point out that you can end a conversation at any time without penalty. The game makes it clear to you, on the very first screen, that this game cannot be played incorrectly. The experience is for you and you alone.

The conversations range from broad philosophical musings, discussions about capitalism and modernity. These are the things that are unlikely to upset anyone, but there are also discussions about suicide, mental illness, nihilism, substance use and much more. And for those who would rather not have these kinds of conversations, they can be toggled off in the options menu.

Glitchhikers is about introspection. It wants you to look inwards and to ask yourself questions by probing you for your responses to a range of topics. However, there is no correct option, there is no moral choice to be made, you cannot affect the outcome of anything (not that there is an outcome of any real substance as this isn’t a game that provides conclusions).

You have these introspective conversations while either going on a long and theoretically infinite train ride in which you chat to commuters as the train moves through some rather stunning vistas or you stroll through a park while listening to a combination of laid back music and introspective radio narration (there are also people to talk to on this journey) or you can get into a car and just drive forever as you pick up one conversation-laden hitchhiker after another while listening to the radio or, lastly, you can head off to a mostly empty airport terminal as you finally gain some level of gameplay control and jump around the geometry while listening to guided meditation.

As soon as you finish a journey, you get hit with the credits, and then you return to the hub and choose another journey. The journeys have no beginnings or endings, they are simply open-ended locations filled with people to talk to while you take in the sights and sounds around you. The whole thing is simply a meditative experience. The car ride is especially soothing as you just sit there and watch the scenery go by. It would probably be absolutely fantastic in VR.

Let’s talk about that audio

It would be a disservice to ignore the actual audio that this game brings. Now, first of all, the game does not use any voice acting for its dialogue and instead puts that voice acting into its multitudinous radio stations and guided meditations. There is a lot of music in this game, and I doubt I experienced all of it, so it should never wind up dull or repetitious unless you play this game for a rather ungodly amount of time.

The music tends to be rather synth-heavy but low-fi and never rising in excitement. It doesn’t make you want to get into a fight, it makes you want to lean back and take it in. And the various recordings you listen to, with people talking about any variety of mindful and/or introspective concepts, is delivered alongside this chilled soundtrack. The original songs that do actually have vocals aren’t bad at all either. Although that would be down to personal preference.

Let’s end off with a few mild technical issues

Sometimes, the game has a bit of jank. There’s no kinder way to really put this. For instance, in the park, you will walk along various pathways that criss-cross and intersect with one another, and you can even set your character to automatically walk without needing you to hold down a key (which is nice), but this seemingly laid-back feeling gives way to some collision issues. You’ll come to a crossroad in the park and try to go right but you can’t progress because you got stuck on the geometry, and unlike a game with jumping or something similar, you can only walk. So, you just kinda get stuck.

In addition, there are some occasional visual hiccups and screen tears here and there. Nothing that causes any real issue, but just something that is noticeable and could probably be fixed with a patch or two. It doesn’t detract from the experience in any real way, and you could probably even argue that it blends in with some of the intentional visual glitch effects the game uses. However, these don’t quite feel intentional, but let’s just pretend they are.

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fun score


Well-written and contemplative, fantastic score and soundtrack


No real gameplay (but that isn’t a problem for everyone), some minor visual and collision hiccups