PlayStation Move has been adapted for many things, from the
obvious light gun shooter and motion-based sports to the less obvious (and out of left-field) non-traditional games
like JS Joust. But it hasn’t seen the touch of demoscene developers, whose
interactive art titles like Linger in Shadows and .detuned proved both
confusing to gamers and satisfying to trophy hunters, alike. Enter Datura, a title that tries a new take on motion controlled games.
What is it? Datura, also the name
of a flower, is a Move-centric title that is designed to give you a degree of
extra physicality to participate in an abstract experience. Its approach to
motion control definitely takes a different tack compared to what’s already
Who is the developer? Plastic
Studios is a Poland-based dev studio that worked on the 2009 PSN exclusive
Linger in Shadows.
How does it look? It depicts nature
and environments with a relative simplicity, which isn’t to say that it’s a
bad-looking game at all. It’s a bit reminiscent of avant-garde film, in regard
to the cinematic look and layout, as well as the moments when you encounter
strange creatures. Your character is represented with a floating hand, which
reaches out and interacts with the environment around him. It’s an intriguing
motif that adds a “gamey” feel to the experience.
How does it play? We used the Move
controller as our character’s right hand. As he woke up on an ambulance
stretcher, we removed the EKG readers from his chest, then flashed back (or
forward?) to a dreamlike forest. We walked through the forest, discovered that
he can touch white trees to heal and learn directives, and that he writes with
a notepad to take notes when he needs to draw and analyze his next movements.
We found a carnival exhibit, and
used the controls to participate in some minigames by tossing a baseball at
some bottles. Later on, we encountered a pig, and after waking it up and
chasing it into a burrowed hole, the action shifted over to a hard-to-control
car on a rainy night, and as we hit a pig in the road, it caused a massive
accident. Afterwards, we faced down some unsavory choices, such as whose hand to sever when handcuffed to another person stuck behind a barrier with only a bandsaw to do the job.
But here’s the rub. We struggled
with the controls more than we did with the meaning of the subject matter.
Granted, we’re usually open to different play styles and non-traditional games. But we also had to wrestle with re-calibration and
unresponsive motion controls. A maneuver as simple as turning a doorknob was a
test of our patience, since it took roughly two minutes of wrestling with the
button and hand movements to finally hit the sweet spot.
Turning our character took some
very exaggerated gestures, and it felt like a struggle against the rest of the experience. Instead of appreciating the game for what it's trying to express, we were more distracted by our inability to get it working. We understand that it's a game in progress, but we
definitely hope that the team at Plastic is fine-tuning certain elements. We’re
definitely interested in trying out a properly-calibrated version of it in the
future, but as first impressions go, it was rough to play.
When is it out? According to
Plastic Studios, you can expect Datura later this year.
Update: It's out and we've played it! Read our Datura review.