There were a lot of big, bombastic games shown off at E3 2016. From Call of Duty to God of War, Sea of Thieves to Gears, if you were looking to shoot or blow something up, there were a lot of options for you to try. But sometimes that’s not what you want, sometimes you want to go on a quiet adventure, one where you have to use your brain to really progress. Obduction is this type of game, which makes a lot of sense, since it is coming from the makers of classic puzzlers Myst and Riven. The game looks to return to that puzzle-filled formula, while updating it for the modern age. I checked it out while I was at the show, and it is so far accomplishing this goal quite easily.
Obduction takes its roots very seriously. Cyan Worlds, and its co-founders Rand and Robyn Miller rocked the gaming world when they released Myst and Riven, and now they’re looking to the past, as well as the future for Obduction. They’re looking to the past by utilizing a lot of the methods that made Myst such a classic in the first place.
A beautiful, mysterious environment, that varies as you move through the game. Puzzles that will test your mind, and your patience. And even some callbacks to the original titles, like the use of full motion video actors to deliver its story bits. If you were among the millions of fans who gobbled up Myst and its sequel then Obduction should already be on your “must play” list.
For those who haven’t spent hours staring at a wall of switches and levers trying to figure out how it all works, Obduction is still a modern title in most ways. The graphics were fairly stunning, and the design of the environments was truly breathtaking at times. I spent much of the game just wandering around looking at stuff, whether it be an alien landscape, or a white picket fenced house that doesn’t quite fit in with its surrounding environment.
Obduction’s world is one big ball of questions, and I really want the answers
I said before that the game is looking to the future as well, it is doing so in a lot of ways, but the main one has to be its use of VR. Obduction will be available for PC, Mac, and the Oculus Rift at launch, with the possibility of other platforms, including other VR devices, in the future. I played through two different demos, one on standard PC, and one in VR. Both had their merits, but for me it’s VR all the way.
Actually feeling a sense of immersion and presence in the wonderful environments of Obduction boosted the game’s enjoyment level exponentially. On PC, you might come upon an object or a ledge and wonder what’s inside, or what’s below it. You can try to check, but if your movement doesn’t get you there that’s the end of it. In VR you can move about, shifting your view to see just what mysteries these things hold.
Solving puzzles might not be impacted all that much, but it was cool how once I solved a puzzle I actually had to physically look around to try to figure out what I had changed. Flipping a switch, hearing the mechanical whir of an engine, then looking down to see a gigantic fan blade spinning up within the mist was spectacular.
Mystery is the key word I would use to describe Obduction after my short time with the game. Its entire world is one big ball of questions, and I really want the answers. Whether playing in VR or out, the game looks to really satisfy those puzzle solving, and world exploring itches that gamers so often have. However, for me, I’ll be looking forward to exploring the world of Obduction first-hand in VR.
What made VR work so well, outside the aforementioned bonuses, were the control options offered by Cyan for Obduction. VR is in a very interesting time where experimentation is running wild. Cyan decided that instead of forcing one method onto the player, they’d offer a bunch. So you can walk freely through the environment, or you can use “nodes”, which essentially teleport you to specific spots around the map. Each has its pluses and minuses, but the key is that you can use whichever one works best for you, helping the player avoid the motion sickness that all VR game designers dread.
Obduction hits PC, Mac, and Oculus Rift on July 26th. We were able to interview a member of Cyan at E3 2016, so stay tuned for that video later on.