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Datura (PS3)

By Rainbird 20th May 2012 | 4,394 views 

So many questions, so few answers.

What's going on? Where am I? Who's that? What am I supposed to do? What's that? How do I do that? What the hell is that?! Datura is a game of many questions, not quite as many answers, and even fewer satisfying ones. Plastic Studios' latest effort is here to take you on a strange journey, but will you want to join in?

If you're going to play Datura with a Dualshock, the answer is a resounding “no”. If you do a little research on Datura, you'll see that the game is apparently playable with the Dualshock, but that's not really true. The controls are generally bad using the Dualshock, but certain sections of the game are completely broken, to the point where progressing is down to dumb luck. As such, this review will be based on the Move controls. To Dualshock-only users - you've been warned. I'll get back to the Move controls, but let's start with what Datura is really about: morals.

The story in Datura revolves around you. You find yourself in a dark forest. It's a mysterious place, and you're thrown into several stories outside of the forest where you must make a moral choice. The choices you make are then reflected in the game's atmosphere and determines the grimness of your experience. Very few aspects of the story are actually explained though, and the game simply expects you to suspend all disbelief and go along with it. The experience can actually be intriguing enough to warrant the required suspension of disbelief, but the game has a tendency to throw frustrations at you, ruining whatever immersion you might have achieved.

Datura wants to be immersive, however. The soundtrack works pretty well, and the visuals have a distinct style that help make up for the dated look of the technology that's behind them. Simple visuals should at least result in good performance, but that's not the case. The game is prone to stuttering, making the controls feel jerky in the process. This only adds to the annoyance you get from the controls, as the Move controls, while usable, simply aren't good enough.

The Move acts as your hand (right or left), and you use the hand to interact with the world. This works reasonably well, but the in-game hand has a hard time replicating exactly what you're doing, introducing an unintended element of trial and error to proceedings. On top of that, you're also navigating with the Move, which is a slow and clunky affair, making things more cumbersome than they ought to be, especially since the Navigation controller could have helped make movement much easier. Adding insult to injury is the fact that figuring out where to go can be confusing, and wandering aimlessly can get frustrating when the wandering itself is annoying. And though there is a map, it's far too difficult to actually gather anything useful from it. Navigation really is the weakest link in Datura, but there is a final one as well: value.

Datura will last you about an hour, maybe a little more depending on how much you struggle with the controls. Your first playthrough is going to be marred by frustration, so you would be excused for not wanting to replay the game. If you've made it through your first playthrough, though, I can recommend taking a second; you'll now be familiar with the controls, and seeing the different results your choices can produce is interesting.

But unfortunately, Datura never ventures beyond “interesting”. And, most importantly, while it asks some interesting questions, its answers are rarely worth the effort.

This review is based on a copy of Datura downloaded from PSN.

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