Hallucinogens alter your reality and make you see things that aren’t there. Plants in the Datura family are renowned for their dangerous hallucinogenic qualities, and their beautiful white flowers — which you’ll find smattered all over the mysterious woods where developer Plastic’s new game Datura takes place — don’t exactly belie the trippy nature of the game. It’s within that mystery-laden woodland that you’ll be thrust into a series of unusual events designed to tell a larger, highly artistic and possibly drug-induced story.
Datura Video Review
Unlike Plastic’s last PSN exclusive Linger in Shadows, which proved more of a technical demonstration than something you can actually play, Datura is a bona fide game. Set entirely in the first-person perspective, you rarely see any part of your character’s body beyond his arms and hands. And other than some grunts and screams, you never hear your character, either. Designed as a truly immersive experience, Datura succeeds in all things presentation. From its beautiful graphics to its subtle and eerie soundtrack, Datura does a wonderful job of setting the mood and making you want to play it.
Following a strange opening scene in an ambulance in which you pull some monitoring devices off of your chest, you flat-line and are thrust into a gorgeous wooded scene. A seemingly infinite number of dead leaves coat the ground as trees of various sizes funnel you down various pathways you’re encouraged to explore. Objects in the environment, such as a well, a statue and a small house beckon you toward them. And when you interact with these items, Datura’s trippy nature rapidly comes to the fore.
Beautiful.For instance, by exploring a hollowed-out tree and procuring a pick-axe from within, you suddenly find yourself on an iced-over lake. When you dust away the shallow snow cover obscuring your view through the ice, you find a trophy on one side and a person trapped underneath the thick sheet of frozen water on the other. Which part of the ice will you smash through? In another scene, prompted by encountering a stray pig in the woods, you’ll find yourself driving a car down a remote road. The pig you found earlier appears at the end of the road. Will you hit it, or will you veer out of the way, possibly putting yourself in danger in the process?
Datura sounds cool because, in premise, it truly is. Made for the core PSN user looking for something totally different, Datura delivers in the sense that you’ve never played anything like it. Choices matter here, and the game begins to look different depending on whether you choose to be righteous or selfish. Better yet, everything in the game is up for interpretation. Who knows what anything truly means? The game never really explains itself, which works wonderfully for something like Datura.
But unfortunately, Datura’s gameplay comes up heavily lacking and brings down the entire product. Navigating the woods and the various scenes you find yourself in will prove frustrating and arduous. Designed for either the PlayStation Move or DualShock, Datura doesn’t play better on either controller, with the Move doing some things better while the DualShock picks up the slack in other areas. And the faux choice between control options quickly rears its ugly head when you realize that you’ll be using motion no matter which direction you go in. Why make your audience use SixAxis, perhaps the most widely panned and disliked motion option of the entire generation?
Watch out!Worse yet, it’s rare that you’ll be able to do what you actually want to do on the first try. Other than walking around and finding new areas to explore (and white birch trees integral in mapping out the forest around you), the controls are unintuitive. All the while, explanations and instructions plague the game in an attempt to alleviate the fact that you don’t quite know what to do most of the time, utterly breaking the immersion. When you have to explain how to do things over and over again, you may want to examine whether your control scheme is fundamentally flawed.
In other words, Datura would have benefited heavily from traditional DualShock controls, but traditional DualShock controls are nowhere to be found here.
At about 90 minutes in length, Datura won’t take you very long to get through. If you enjoy yourself enough the first time around, the game certainly warrants a second playthrough to see the different choices you could have made and their respective ramifications. Still, the control scheme butchers what could have been one of the PlayStation Network’s finest exclusive experiences, giving players something that they’ve simply never seen or played before, something ambient, artistic and heady.
It truly is a shame that Datura doesn’t have stronger gameplay. In this medium, gameplay is and always will be king, and no matter how awesome everything else is about a title like Datura, if it doesn’t control well, you have to question whether it’s worth playing at all.
Datura will draw you in with the sheer amount of mystery it oozes. It is the epitome of the intriguing game.8.0Graphics
Datura looks great. Scenes in the woods prove especially staggering, and it’s too bad you can’t explore more of it, because the aesthetics certainly make you want to.8.0Sound
An eerie soundtrack and ambient sound effects complement Datura’s spot-on presentation wonderfully.5.0Gameplay
Datura begins to fall apart when you actually play it, which is bad news for any game. It’s not broken, just frustrating and clumsy.5.0Lasting Appeal
Datura can be beaten in about 90 minutes your first time through, and while it can be replayed, you may be too turned off by the gameplay to do so.6.0OVERALLOkay(out of 10).
Most recent contributions for Datura: Game Details
Published by: Sony Computer Entertainment
Developed by: Plastic
Genre: Other Adventure
US:May 8, 2012
Europe:May 9, 2012