I love how Cyan Inc. designs their game; they’re always a beautiful experience with cleverly thought-out puzzles that infuriate and excite you at the same time. As the spiritual successor to their previous games, Myst and Riven, Obduction is no different, and it still captures that essence of confusion and mystery that makes these types of games a joy to play.
Complete with incredible photography
You start off on a small walking trail while an ominous sounding voice narrates a troubled past that started with ‘that blast of light’. While a gorgeous blue bolt of said light shoots down from the sky in front of you, the key points of the calamitous events leading to this moment unfold visually all around. I love how the narrative isn’t directed at helping the player understand what has happened up to this point; the characters are mentioned simply by their first name and without any real backstory, and whatever has happened in this little town isn’t completely specified yet. There’s a pervasive sense of mystery that made me eager to start unravelling the plot.
Prep for creepy Mayor
It doesn’t take long before you see why you need a decent computer
You eventually find out that you’ve stumbled upon a little town named Hunrath, a place in Arizona that has been moved to the surface of an alien plant for an unknown reason. As you begin to explore, you find out that Earth is one of four planets that has had a piece mysteriously broken from it and moved, and each gorgeous looking world has its own detailed biomes and settings that are somehow all connected. Basic progression involves moving through the worlds and solving various puzzles, and it sort of plays like a first-person point-and-click adventure game. You can actually change the control scheme to something akin to a classic point-and-click, or simply navigate it like any other first-person adventure. I praise the game for not just throwing me around like a ragdoll in the way that many other puzzle games like this do, instead it gracefully blocks you from progressing and guides you back to the places you’ve been to find an answer to the problem you’re faced with. The puzzles incorporated in-game are the perfect mix of entertainment and complexity. Some are simply solved by common sense and others are quite difficult and you have to really think outside the box to move forward. I enjoyed that factor because I didn’t find myself wishing it would be any harder or easier; it’s frustrating in a good way, just as any game of this ilk should be. This paired with easy to understand controls and straightforward base objectives makes the game in my opinion a solid 10 in the gameplay department.
See how far from the rails i am? I’m sorry, thats a stupid joke…
Now, onto the visual aspect. Made on Unreal Engine 4, the graphics and atmosphere are incredible; the way this game looks is top-notch for today’s standards. The scenery is amazing and the whole game is flourishing with beautifully contrasted colours and effects. From the animated parts of the background to the little details right in front of your face this game really needs to be the benchmark of any decent game in terms of graphics. I really can’t stress enough just how gorgeous this game looks, which as a spiritual successor to the games Myst and Riven is quite fitting. Those titles wowed the masses with unprecedented gobsmacking visuals back in the day, and Obduction continues that tradition. Even the rocks and buildings all have a tiny little tinge of an offset colour that’s barely noticeable, but when you actually sit and look these miniscule details completely intensify the atmosphere of the game. Given all this detail it’s unsurprising that the game is quite demanding in terms of hardware, and those with lower-powered rigs need not apply.
You really can’t help but stop and look
Quick picnic stop
I could rant on for hours about how nice this game looks, but I need to address a few niggly bits that pestered me with my Obduction experience. The game takes 8 trillion years to load up initially, and almost just as long loading in-game, plus there were a few times where my frame-rate dropped quite a substantial amount (even with my GTX 980 on a lower quality setting). I also found myself at times feeling a little lonely. Not many times (and I don’t mean that empty No Man’s Sky brand of loneliness), but I feel like a relatively slow-paced game like this needs to be constantly engaging to keep players on their toes. There were a few moments where I felt myself dragging my feet (especially towards the end of the game), with the narrative and pace slowing at a time when you expect the game to be picking up towards the ultimate denouement. Oh, and the final puzzle took me over two hours to understand… I probably can’t blame Cyan Inc for my stupidity, though.
Rent would be through the roof
In a nutshell, I loved this game. It’s exactly how an adventure game should be: puzzling, fun, engaging and beautiful. So is it worth the $29.99 US price tag on steam? Absolutely. If you love games that make you think you’ll love Obduction, just make sure your rig is decent or you’ll be playing this game in block format.
Reviewed on PC