Obduction, from the creators of Myst and Riven, and made as a spiritual successor to them both, tells the story of a man who discovers an organic artifact that fell from the sky and is taken into a strange world. Your task in the game is to find out where you are and find a way back home.
Much like Myst and Riven, the way you are going to do this is by gradually uncovering the game’s world, and piecing together puzzles using the knowledge that you have been learning during your adventure. All of the puzzles found in Obduction are in some way all connected to each other. A small element of one puzzle may become the key feature in the following puzzle. This really gives the game an added feeling of depth, as none of the game worlds ever becomes redundant even after progressing for a number of hours. It should be noted that this is not an action-packed game at all; you are going to be playing at a slow pace, examining books, notes and clues around the environment. This game will also force you to make notes outside of the game, nothing is recorded for you so that 4 digit number to open a door, better write it down or else you are gonna forget it along with everything else you are trying to cram into your memory. Obduction also has a neat in-game camera mechanic. This is another way that you can “note” down pieces of information, simply take a picture of the code instead, but this is also handy when you need to remember the position of something for instance.
You are able to navigate around Obduction’s world either by using the free roam setting, which is your standard FPS style controls, or you can choose to play it as a point and click game. This gameplay style felt even slower than the regular pace of the game, so opted for the free roam. This gives you much more opportunity to explore the world at your own will rather than the constraints of the game. You will also have to do a fair amount of backtracking too. Since all of the puzzles are connected, some parts of the world may not be accessible until you have completed a puzzle prior, so it is well worth your time exploring every nook and cranny to get to grips with your surroundings.
Obduction is one of the better-looking games to be released in 2016, every single one of the environments looks gorgeous. The almost photo-realistic graphical fidelity blows me away with what games can push out nowadays. Textures found high and low are also of extremely high quality too; believe me, I’ve spent my fair amount of time trying to find a pixelated rock texture to no avail. Another noteworthy point is the game’s skybox. I can’t remember the last time a game looked this good, but of course, that comes with the caveat that you are going to need a beef of a rig to play it. I was able to push out a steady 60 FPS for the majority of the time on my 970 SLI setup, so be prepared to drop your graphical settings in order to keep a steady frame rate. The developers have really paid attention to detail with the sound effects, even the smallest addition like the sound of your footsteps when you are walking across the sand just add to the immersion levels.
As you would expect from an adventure game like this, the story is captivating and gripping. Whilst it is a fairly in-depth story, never do you feel overwhelmed with the amount of information being shown to you. There isn’t an abundance of cut scenes or textbooks that you need to read in order to understand what is happening, the story just unfolds in front of you.
You shouldn’t be playing this game if you don’t like just being thrown in right at the deep end. You get no hand holding from the AI at any point throughout this adventure. No helpful hints are thrown in because you’ve spent four hours on the same puzzle. If you get stuck, you have two options, 1) quit or 2) look it up online. I am not ashamed to admit it - I did have to look up answers online a number of times. That being said, though, the majority of the game’s puzzles can be worked out if you just take some time to take in the information provided to you, and use logic to work out the next step. It is extremely rewarding when you figure out the solution of a puzzle on your own after spending twenty minutes running backward and forwards across the desert.
Compared to games such as Riven and Myst, Obduction takes quite a bit longer to complete. Coming in at around twelve hours to finish the game, and that was at quite a relaxed pace. That is your average amount of time for a single player adventure in this day and age, so I am happy with that. There isn’t any replayability factor, though. Puzzles can only be completed in one way, and the story is completely linear, with no choices or decisions to be made along the way.
A few technical issues that are worth noting; the first being another line about how beefy your rig will need to be to play this game. The loading times between levels is quite ridiculously, to be honest. Even loading environments once you have loaded into the area - I have never seen my machine chug along in the way it did whilst playing this game at times. Granted I was playing on a regular HDD rather than an SSD, so your loading times will probably be greatly increased if you play it off an SSD instead. A slight controller issue; the game has the spacebar bound to taking a picture with the built-in camera.
Obduction is a good game, but it doesn’t expand on the genre that Myst and Riven started. This is almost exactly like Myst. The puzzles aren’t as creative, but they are still interesting to solve and most of all the game is fun to play. The story will leave you wanting more at every turn and on top of all this, it looks spectacular whilst doing it too. I would only recommend this to fans of the genre, as this isn’t going to be everyone’s cup of tea and today’s market is a little bit more faster paced game play will only act as a hinderance.