Obduction, considered as a spiritual successor to the Myst games by Cyan Worlds, is an adventure-puzzle game. There are no objectives dictated to the player by the game but instead, the player must explore the environment, solve puzzles, and make sense of the world on their own. There is very little interaction with the player besides a few holograms, that shows real live actors telling you a little bit of the world. As you explore, you discover the history of the place and find a way to come back home.
Before this review, I had never played any of the Myst games by the Cyan team. However, when I was asked to review this game, I immediately watched the trailer, and I was intrigued. This curiosity is what I believe is one of the driving forces in Obduction. You start the game with zero information on who you are, what you’re doing, and where you’re going. One minute you’re in this park, exploring, trying to figure out what is happening, then all of a sudden, a strange light glow brightly in front of you, and almost immediately you get transported to an alien world with floating rocks and purple skies.
During the first few hours of the game, the environment is a little bit limited. The first time I was transported to the desert of Hunrath, nothing made sense. It can be a bit overwhelming, especially for beginners like me, as there are a lot of things like levers and switches to interact with, which seems impossible to piece together at first. As I progress through the story and unravel different worlds, I somehow got familiar with the landscape of the game and slowly I noticed that pulling levers and flicking switches is almost second nature. Also, backtracking in the expansive environment is not impossible as I thought in the beginning.
The visuals in this game are amazingly good. The attention to detail and the stunning backdrop made me pause a couple of times to appreciate and revel at the environment during the early stages of my play through. As impressed I was with the game, there were still some minor hiccups here and there where textures don’t look as refined as I like. However, it’s barely noticeable, and it did not pull me away from the experience.
The video holograms in the game show real life people. At first, I thought it looked weird having real people show up in a rendered environment. However, as I play through, I noticed that it adds to the mystery and intrigue and a little bit of creepy factor. It reminded me of the horrendous voice acting in the original Resident Evil. I know, the voice acting was terrible, but for me, this shortcoming added to the creepy factor of the game, how their dialogue mismatches the danger of the environment they’re in; it was too surreal.
Gameplay is pretty straightforward, you explore the world and solve puzzles. There is no combat or cut scenes, and very little dictated objectives. You play the game in first person mode, there is no option to hear and see yourself, even your hands. The game lets you choose your shadow’s gender, which confused me at first.
Interaction with the puzzles and objects is pretty easy as well. Your mouse controls the white cursor on the screen, and it changes whenever you point at an object that you can interact with like levers, doors, switches, buttons, among many others. You move your character using the classic WASD buttons and you discover more in the game by picking up notes, watching holograms, and listening to various tape recordings.
The music is probably one of my favorite elements in Obduction. It’s not playing constantly as with other games, but when it does, it’s hauntingly beautiful. Of course, the music is also used to cue players that they have solved a puzzle or progressed further in the game, but when it plays over, it adds a bit of mystery as I get goosebumps every time I walk inside Farley’s house. The sound of the environment is designed so well that it complements the stunning visuals. The distant waterfall, weather effects, the mechanical sounds, all of which, are weaved perfectly to create an atmosphere where players can get immersed fully for hours.
Would I play the game again after my first play-through? Probably not. The game is good, no doubt about that, but I just don’t see anything that would be different if I played it for a second time. There is no trophy system on the PC, no harder difficulty, but besides getting a different ending, there is no reason to go back to it for a second time.
All in all, Obduction is a great game. The visuals are breathtaking, the gameplay is straightforward, and the music adds a layer of mystery to the already mysterious game. There is very little replay value as there are no other difficulty options, but I think the game doesn’t need it. It is already full of things to keep you busy on your first play through that can probably take countless hours to complete.
What I like about Obduction, and this is coming from a guy who’s new to immersive puzzle games like this one, is that it doesn’t need to be character driven, or have a complicated story, or combat, like most games out in the market today. The lush and expansive environment, the puzzles, and the mystery kept me intrigued all throughout. The ability of the game to keep me thinking and curious as to what will happen next and how to solve a particular puzzle, kept me entertained for hours. I definitely recommend this game for beginners who are curious on this particular genre.
I can easily give Obduction PC version an 8.5 out of 10.
AIR Entertainment was provided a review copy of Obduction by Cyan Inc.
We take a wonderful stroll through all the Myst games leading to our upcoming review of Obduction