Some background: I played a fair amount of Myst as a youth. And I won’t lie to you, it made me very frustrated, but not for the reason one might think. I was at a time in my life where I thought I knew everything. So to play a game without a manual, with no real instruction and just an open world? I was vexed. More than vexed. The other difficult part being, I didn’t own a PC. So my dealings with it were sparse, and I wound up jotting things down so I didn’t forget. I never did beat it, and it’s one of my big failings as a person who loves puzzles. I should go back. . . Obduction is a spiritual successor to Myst/Riven. Rand Miller, who developed those also created this wonderful game. It’s not a game where you’re going to run around plunging a blade through villains. It’s not a game where you leap down a corridor, guns blazing. It’s not a rail shooter, it’s not a traditional roleplaying game/JRPG. I don’t even know if it’s a roleplaying game. It’s unique: Obduction is Obduction. And I love it. It’s not something you’re just going to breeze.
I found myself lost in this beautiful world very easily. You are put into a very eerie, supernatural setting, watching flashes of light arcing from the sky. Somehow, you’re transported to a strange new world, just you and your camera. There are really cool holograms that teach you a little something about the world around you. You’re at Hunrath. What do you know more than that? Nothing. But hey, you have a cool camera! You’re going to get a lot. . .A lot of use out of that. Unless you have an eidetic memory, you better be prepared to take photos of anything suspicious, interesting, or terrifying. So what did I do? I grabbed a notebook, a few pens, and scribbled notes as I went, anything that I thought was important. However, it was sometimes hard to see the in-game text via photograph, so I did what I do as a member of the gaming press: Use my screenshot technology! That did admittedly make some things a little easier, and so I really had two sets of notes.
Cyan has literal decades of experience crafting titles like this. It has the wonderful traits of making me feel like an absolute genius, and mere moments later I felt like the biggest moron to ever breathe. This game is hard, and easy at the same time. If you spend time on the Internet, sure you could figure out the puzzles without putting any effort in, but would that be rewarding? I don’t think so! I had access to a bit of walkthrough material, but I only resorted to it when absolutely necessary. I’m only human! I’m weak! This game is not though. This world is not safe, but you don’t go around murdering people. Instead, you have to understand how this world and our own world works. If you have to say, power something on, you can’t just do what you do in a normal game [which is to say, flip a switch]. This is a Cyan game, and Rand wants you to work for it! You have to really explore, consider what you have at your disposal and then, only then, can you proceed!
I’m not going to spoil anything about this game, or at least, as little as I possibly can. This is a game that you have to sit and experience yourself. You probably could speed through it with some outside knowledge, but that’s not what these games are about. It’s a story, it’s an adventure, and you don’t get any hints or tips other than glinting items [if you want]. The puzzles in the game range from “Wow, this is really easy! Is this a Cyan game?” to “What has happened to my life? I’ve been awake for twenty hours, all the beer is gone, and I think I’ve lost my mind.” That is in no means a negative. The name of the game is thinking. If you don’t like really putting in mental effort and considering all aspects of the world around you, you’re not going to have fun. But there are times when I really love this idea. And I enjoyed watching this world unfold around me, even if I spent more than my share of time ripping pages out of a notebook or slinging it into the hallway in rage. I love it, though. And if you loved Myst/Riven, you’ll love this too.
Final Notes: Hard as hell, intriguing, easy to immerse yourself into. 5/5.