Publisher: Sony Computer Entertainment
Release Date: May 8, 2012
Players: Single Player Only
Eerie. Dark. Strange.
In yet another dialogue-less PSN-only release, our imagination is able to be set free and run wild. Datura is a PS Move title, and without a Move set-up the game is a clunky mess. It is compatible with the six-axis controller, but is more enjoyable with Move. In a driving scene I was supposed to be able to control the wheel with the six- axis controller, but after slamming into the guardrails on the side of the road I was never able to regain control of the car. I spent the entire scene witnessing only the railing no matter how much I twisted or turned the controller, until I was finally demolished by a semi which marked the end of the scene. Driving wasn’t the only area of concern. Even something basic like turning a door handle became quite a struggle in some cases. The camera was frustrating at times, too, with only being able to look up and down without having to turn your character’s entire frame. And with the gameplay being permanently in first-person mode, it can be difficult to tell where you’re going, or how to get there exactly.
The story starts off in an ambulance only to throw us into a vast, open forest. The forest is pretty to look at and shows yet again that low budget games can be visually stunning. Some of the characters aren’t much to look at, but the environments are very gorgeous. Once in the forest we can play around and find the white trees that give us the info to draw the map, solve puzzles in order to find that next scene, or just walk around and enjoy the landscape. The overall presentation of storytelling is rather clouded. There really is no sense of direction and the only way to know what to do is prompted when you walk near an object. Each scene never actually told a tale, and they only lasted a couple minutes at most.
The soundtrack is perfect for the setting. It’s as eerie and strange as the gameplay itself. And with only about an hour and a half of true gameplay, it really speaks to how well the music compliments its environment. The fact that Datura contains no dialogue adds to the creepy story. Climbing a tree with a young boy in a yard that has its entrance boarded up, only to have the owner come out firing his shotgun at us is proof that while we roam the leaf-covered forest, we are not welcome. Or are we? Plants of the Datura family are known to contain toxic hallucinogens and alter perception, and these plants are scattered throughout the forest, so it’s possible that they have an effect on our character. Even though we seem to escape the ambulance in the beginning, we still at one point find ourselves in a hospital. So how did we get there? Did we actually escape the ambulance, or were we exposed the the toxic plants making it seemed like we escaped into an alternate reality?
It’s questions like these that make us want to dive into the forest that the title has to offer. I would have liked to have seen the mechanics worked on a little better, but it was the thought of exploring the strange cutscenes or the unclear puzzles that made me want to play it. It does give you decisions to make, like pulling your wounded comrade away from the battle scene, or leaving him to die and fight back. It’s not flawless but it is unique. If you have PS Move, I recommend giving Datura a shot, if not, then you could put this title off, but I still enjoyed the experience it gave me with just the six-axis controller. If the controls weren’t so clunky I’d consider it more successful.
Have you played Datura? Give us your thought, won’t you?