From an idyllic forest in 1989 to a destroyed space station in 2037, Cissy Jones is running the gamut with her impressive voice acting chops. Embracing her love of space, Jones takes the leading roles in Adam Orth’s VR experience, Adrift.
Adrift is the ex-Microsoft employee’s brainchild, which in a way represents his departure from the company. The exploration title thrusts players into the vacuum of space with a damaged EVA suit forcing them to battle the odds to survive.
Comics & Gaming Magazine: What was it like to go from Delilah to ADR1FT?
Cissy Jones: The funny thing about that is that, as Delilah, I pretty much talked for the entirety of the game. You didn’t get much of a break from me. In ADR1FT, I only have five actual words that I speak; the rest of it is me breathing. So it’s pretty much on opposite ends of the spectrum as far as voice acting goes.
CGM: What kinds of stresses were involved in just doing breathing sounds?
CJ: It was definitely challenging. When Adam called me in to do Alex, I had already recorded for Elizabeth Hunter, who is another character in the game, and he called me up to record for Alex and at that point I was pretty pregnant. So I got to the studio and I was very pregnant and Adam was like, “Oh my God I am going to kill you today.”
He had a very sharp idea in his mind of how he wanted the breathing to sound and so it was a lot of making sure I hit rhythms he wanted and everything else which when you’re normally breathing it’s fine, but when you’re breathing a little louder it’s really easy to pass out. We had to be really careful I didn’t black out while we were trying to get the right rhythm sound. It’s pretty funny actually, in hindsight.
CGM: Have you had a chance to try the VR?
CJ: I have very briefly. Adam had me down to the studio and I died in like three seconds.
I’m so terrible at gameplay but it’s really beautiful. They’ve really worked so hard to create an amazing experience in virtual reality and the game is still stunning in 2D but with the Rift it’s just, I mean no pun intended, but it literally takes your breath away, it’s really stunning.
CGM: What do you think about VR in general?
CJ: I think it’s a really interesting medium and I don’t think it’s a passing fad, I think it’s here to stay. It just gives a whole different level of immersion that you don’t get with a flat screen.
The things that they’re coming out with for VR and that they’re making specifically for VR, are really cool. It’s going to change the conversation in a lot of ways once people can get over the general nausea of working in a virtual reality world. Yeah, I think it’s here to stay.
CGM: Does the space setting of Adrift interest you?
CJ: Yeah, I’ve always been interested in space. My favourite book is Cosmos by Carl Sagan and I’ve kind of been obsessed with space travel ever since I was a kid. Getting to see the finished product and the Earth that they use in the game is an actual composite of satellite images. So it is “real” as far as the game goes and it’s been kind of awesome to kind of live in that world, it’s beautiful. It’s not just an alien invasion game where you have to kill like a thousand aliens to live. It’s just the solace of space and what that means to each individual person, which I think is really beautiful.
CGM: So after having been in Adrift, Firewatch and some Telltale Games, what is it about the more story-driven games that pull you in?
CJ: I just love them. I love these fully fleshed out characters, they’re real people, they’re flawed and they have a past and things people look for. They’re wholly rounded characters which is so rare, especially as a woman in video games. Usually when you’re introduced to a female character she’s a sex symbol; she’s a sexy librarian, she’s a sexy warrior, she’s a sexy whatever. So to actually have, in the Walking Dead, a middle aged, plump, Belgian veterinarian or in Firewatch, where you never see what looks like and now in Adrift you have this deeply flawed character who may or may not have caused the destruction of this entire space station. It really draws me in.
There’s always going to be a space for first person shooters and MMOs and stuff like that where you’re just shouting plot lines and stuff like, “Grenade! Get down! Take cover!” which is great, but for me, to find these stories that have these rich characters with rich histories, I love them and if I could do them for the rest of my life I would.
CGM: What did you bring, as Cissy, to Alex and Elizabeth?
CJ: Alex is a fiercely competitive individual and she takes failure personally, and I am not competitive but I do take failure personally. For instance, this job that I’m doing, voice over, if this doesn’t work, it’s on me. I changed my entire career path to follow this crazy dream and I have a family. They rely on me for income and insurance and I want to give my daughter a good example of what it means to be a working mom and someone that enjoys what they do for a living. So I definitely bring that aspect of it to Alex.
Elizabeth is a lot more of a vulnerable character and I’m definitely someone who wears my heart on my sleeve so I definitely brought that to her. And it’s funny because the two are so different. Alex, like I said, is fiercely competitive and if anything goes wrong it’s personal shame and Elizabeth is kind of full of shame and mistakes like that but she owns it, that’s who she is. It was really interesting to be the different sides of the coin.
CGM: Whom would you say you relate to more? Alex or Elizabeth?
CJ: Mmm, probably Elizabeth. Alex is a great character, but again, I don’t live under that fear of shame and that fear of failure and competitiveness and stuff like that. But it’s fun to play because it’s one of the things I love about my job, that I get to step into these different shoes and be someone that I’m not on a regular basis. Someone like Alex is deeply fascinating to me because she’s so different from who I am.
CGM: What kind of direction did Adam Orth give you?
CJ: He is so razor focused with what he wants. This is really his baby; he has poured his heart and soul into this game so he knew exactly what he wanted. Which is really cool to come into as an actor, obviously I can bring in different choices that he hasn’t thought of but he had a very clear idea in his mind of everything that he wanted, the direction was great. If something I did surprised him that he liked, he kept it, and if something surprised him but he didn’t like it we would kind of talk about it and re-work it. He is just amazing. He is just such a cool guy and this game is very important to him and being able to work on it with him is just a dream come true.
CGM: What would you encourage players to do on the space station?
CJ: I would say it’s a lot like Firewatch in that of course there are your main missions that you’re supposed to do but there’s so many things off of the beaten path to explore. You can go outside of the space station to this revolving satellite and hear news from Earth, which I think is really cool. You can find little Easter eggs all over the place, as long as you don’t run out of oxygen.
There’s so much to explore. I would say take your time. I know a lot of times people get obsessed with beating the game within a certain amount of time but don’t put a time limit on it. Just go float, enjoy and explore, find all those little nuggets, there are so many great things in there.
CGM: Would you like to add anything else about your time on the game?
CJ: Just explore, go explore go and enjoy the beauty, take the time to look around and see this world that they’ve created, it’s so beautiful. Everything from the plants and the water droplets floating in space to the space and the Earth and sometimes you can look down and see your own shadow, which is awesome. There are a lot of really cool things to see so enjoy it.