Saturday, August 27, 2016

Pulled Under with Obduction (no spoilers, just mood)

Initial Review: OBDUCTION from Cyan

After a bit of frustration, I finally found settings that would let me play this new game from Cyan. The clue was opening the Task Manager to see why I kept "marching in place" as I went through the game intro: at the general, graphics and control settings I began with, CPU performance was hitting a wall.

So I dropped resolution, cranked down mouse sensitivity, turned off player shadow, cursor lock and V-sync, and set the game up to run in a window rather than full screen. It still took some adjustments to the size of the window, but eventually I found a combination that let me get past the intro and into the game proper.

Once there—oh, yes! This was the excellent mood-setting with graphics, music, and sense of drama that pulled me into the worlds of Myst so many years ago. You are exploring a broken world, one that seems composed of pieces dropped into a barren landscape. Each step brings questions: Why are there trees in a cavern, whose trunks end against a rocky roof? Why are there chunks of rock floating in the sky? What is the huge globe that hangs overhead—a moon? If so, it is too close. And why do some rocks seem to flicker with red energy, while others are dead stone?

You wander, gathering clues from the landscape, interacting where possible with the items you encounter, following the blue will-o'-wisps through sun-drenched sand and rocky canyons. Here's a path to follow; there's a train track that may lead somewhere. In the distance you see a neat house, a water tank, a metal tower. 

That looks like a mine; yes, here is an adit choked with fallen rock. There is an open mine entrance, but it looks too dark to explore just yet. Doom-laden music sounds at some places; in others, you hear footsteps or clanks and thuds that seem human-caused. Yet these places are empty, except for you yourself.

And everywhere, rocks, strange arching upthrusts of blue and red against the sky, with the ominous floating islands above them. Doors that are locked. Mechanisms that don't respond. Perspectives that show paths and walkways you cannot reach—yet.

Play on, because exploration and the thrill of discovery are your reward. Take chances. Step where the wisp guides you, however frail the road appears, because there is a way to solve the puzzle.

Of course, if my memory of Myst is any guide, solving one puzzle will only confront you with the next.