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Preview: Trying to make sense of Datura

5:00 PM on 03.15.2012 // Jordan Devore

Datura is one of those games that compels you to share your in-game experience with friends as if you're telling a grand story about some meaningful feat you accomplished. For me personally, it tends to be exploration-centric games like Fallout: New Vegas that evoke such a response.

While Plastic Studios' latest project for PlayStation 3 is no open-world game in that sense, it does allow the player to walk around freely while trying to understand their unsettling surroundings. I suppose you could call this a modern adventure game, or something to that effect.

One thing is for sure: Datura is f*cking weird.

Datura (PlayStation Network)
Developer: Plastic Studios
Publisher: Sony
Release: 2012

The centerpiece of the playable build shown off at the 2012 Game Developers Conference was a gloomy, leaf-filled forest. After a quick interactive scene in which you are strapped into the back of an ambulance and attempt to get your bearings, you are sent to this wooded area for reasons not yet made clear.

It's very possible that Datura will never fully explain itself, because it very much seems to be one of those open-to-interpretation games. I have nothing against them, but if you do, consider this your first and only warning.

The world is presented to you from a first-person perspective, hence my desire to lump this in with adventure games. Datura can be played with a standard gamepad, but its main emphasis is placed on the PlayStation Move. It allows you to more accurately control a floating on-screen hand to interact with objects in the environment, like a notebook fastened to a tree with a pen.

In some ways, using the Move was almost too precise, and in the process of getting used to the control scheme, there were some unintentionally hilarious moments in which my rogue hand went haywire. While this game doesn't beat you over the head with what to do or where to go, there are small prompts to show you how to pull off specific Move actions needed for the given situation. I appreciated that.

It's hard to say what the puzzles in Datura will be like in the full game. The ones presented to me were based more on interaction with something abstract rather than "solving" anything per se, but then again, this was presumably the very beginning and it's entirely possible they'll get increasingly complex.

The stand-out moment involved waking up an out-of-reach pig. There was a pile of potatoes nearby, so I started chucking them in the creature's general direction until one finally connected. This prompted the pig to start walking around the forest, eventually making its way to a tunnel guarded by overgrown roots.

I already knew something wasn't quite right with this animal, but when it cleared the path by nonchalantly walking through these roots, that pretty much confirmed my suspicions. Naturally, I crawled along the now-accessible path and then found myself driving a car.

So, I did what any reasonable person would do and attempted to avoid rubbing up against the guard rails until the aforementioned pig appeared in the middle of the road. Believe me when I say I tried my best to hit it, but somehow, I missed. And that was the end of the demo. I was told that hitting the pig would've flipped my car over. Needless to say, I'm really bummed out now.

Confused by all of this? Join the club. I was able to watch other people play Datura and they encountered different objects in the forest that I had totally overlooked, raising even more questions. I'm eager to play more and hopefully get answers. If you're not completely averse to artsy games, you should be too.

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Jordan Devore, Managing Editor
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Jordan is a founding member of Destructoid and poster of seemingly random pictures. They are anything but random. Disclosure: I backed Double Fine Adventure and Awesomenauts: Starstorm on Kickst... more   |   staff directory

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