Obduction

Finally got around to playing Obduction, after having backed it on Kickstarter many moons ago. Obduction is a puzzle adventure from the original creators of Myst, and it’s mechanisms will be very familiar to anyone who has played any of the original games.

Very familiar.

Obduction is not a Myst game. Over the course of the campaign, the team were very clear in stressing that. Obduction is a new story, set in a new environment, with a new set of races and objectives, but … it all feels very familiar. You start on a home world (like Myst) and have to explore, collection clues, filling backstory and eventually unlocking doors to other ages, sorry - domes.

The puzzles, on the whole, are very satisfying. This is a game you need to be absolutely awake and wired for to make sure you’re not missing a small subtle clue. The game helps by providing a “camera” that allows you to take a screenshot of whatever you’re looking at. Photograph every written or drawn thing, and you won’t have to backtrack anywhere near as much. Die hards may want to abandon this entirely and take notes on paper.

The storyline is enjoyable, and there’s lots of items to explore to fill in the background. And whilst your home world and first few ages, sorry - domes, are excruciangly detailed, the last part is somewhat empty. Whilst this is intended to be part of the narrative, after preparing yourself for another seven rounds at the mental gymnastic olympics, you find yourself wondering “is that it?”. The game does conclude well, with a few different outcomes possible. They’re /very/ well signposted throughout the game.

Technically, this game has a few issues. I admit, I’m speaking from someone attempting to play it on a four year old ultrabook, but the criticism does appear to be universal. Graphically, the game is goregous, even at a limited resolution with the textures turned down. And whilst at this resolution, the writing is illegible, I found we could work around it by taking a photo of the written document and immediately revieiwng the photo (this also proved to be a good habit for cross checking clues). One puzzle required a trip to the internet because the loaded textures were so low detail, even the photo trick didn’t work. This needs another think to provide an alternative mechansim to this puzzle - since otherwise, the game is entirely playable at this spec.

Despite this machine running on an SSD with 8GB of RAM, loading times were /dire/. And not just inital loading times, but loading times between domes. Since some of the puzzles required a continual sequence of hopping between domes - this was an exercise in patience and tea making. We got there in the end, but looking around, loading times appear to be a universal problem. There’s a few ways out of this without sacrificing gameplay, and it looks like in one particular section the developers have attempted to mitigate this (and for that particular puzzle it was very welcome), but that needed to exist elsewhere.

Despite those issues, I never expected the game to run on my machine at all, it’s so far from the recommended specifications. But run it does, and despite the flaws, it’s been a brilliant experience and I hope for more new original content from Cyan.