Datura Review

Datura is a short, confusing, and unfulfilling adventure.

by

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There's a fine line between the artistically brilliant and the indecipherable. To walk that line is to risk turning a potentially great piece of work into an object of ridicule. And yet, that's a risk that developer Plastic has taken with the PlayStation Move-powered first-person adventure Datura. It's not so much a game as it is an interactive art piece, a psychedelic trip that hints at greatness but ends up trying too hard to be clever for its own good. There's no coherence to the story and no real challenge to be had, resulting in a short, if technically impressive, adventure that's more confusing than intriguing.

That adventure starts in an ambulance. There's no explanation as to why you're there; the sound of the siren and the hypnotic beeps of a heart monitor are your only clues. In front of you floats a disembodied hand that follows the motions of the Move controller with an eerie precision. That hand is your only way of interacting with the world around you. You can rotate it by rotating the controller, or reach out to touch objects by moving closer to the screen. The intuitive system also highlights objects that you can interact with by displaying an icon that lets you know to pull the trigger to grab an object or press triangle to inspect one.

The icon flashes as you hover your hand over cables attached to your chest. You grip them, and with a sharp tug on the controller you rip them out, causing you to black out and awaken in a forest. It's littered with autumnal dead leaves and many strange artefacts and buildings. Most of your time in Datura is spent exploring the forest, where you soak up the atmosphere, and listen to a foreboding orchestral score, all while trying to figure out exactly what it is you're doing there. You walk around by holding down the Move button and pointing where you want to go, and holding down X lets you spin around on the spot.

The forest is filled with various objects for you to interact with. An ancient tree trunk sports a mask that you can rip off, a fountain spouts water from the mouth of a stone fish, and a hazardous-looking wooden shack houses an air rifle and targets for you to shoot. The way you interact with each object varies, but all make great use of the Move's 1:1 tracking. You might have to turn the controller sideways and turn it to mimic a door handle, or move it up and down to smash objects with a crowbar. There are also white trees scattered throughout the forest that, when felt with your hand, fill in sections of a map on a notepad. Rather than bringing up a map screen to use it, though, holding down square cleverly places the pad in your hand, and you have to physically hold the Move controller out in front of you to read it.

Your interactions with objects form the bulk of your adventure. There are no real puzzles to solve, save for a few where you have to combine objects, and those are not at all taxing. It's all about the exploration, which would be fine if there were a decent narrative to drive it. Instead, each object you interact with results in a strange flashback to another place, where you might be driving a car, hacking through sheets of ice to save a person trapped underneath, or floating through a tunnel of swirling colours and ambient beats. There's no coherence to any of these events--it's all just a bit too out there to make any sense.

There's so little in the way of explanation that it's difficult to feel anything but completely confused. A clear attempt has been made to make the narrative open to interpretation, to provoke an emotional response by making you fill in the gaps, but it hasn't succeeded. There's nothing meaningful to interpret, just a bunch of random jaunts through someone's psyche.

By the end of the 90-minute adventure you're left feeling empty, and even a little angry at the whole experience. You crave an actual message, but all you're left with are many questions and no hope of getting any answers. You could spend hours trying to figure it all out in your head, or write essays on why the whole experience is a metaphor for the downfall of capitalism or an explanation for the meaning of life. But boy would you be wasting your time. Datura is vacuous. There's simply no point trying to figure it all out. It's an attempt at an affecting and artistically driven experience that went one step too far over the line into the pretentious.

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The Good
Some innovative uses of the Move controller
The Bad
Its few puzzles are too easy
Story is too incoherent to make any sense
Just 90 minutes long
Complete lack of explanation leads to a very unsatisfying conclusion
4
Poor
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21 comments
Bellum_Sacrum
Bellum_Sacrum

The game has a very simple premise, yet goes into great lengths to obfuscate it, which is beyond pretentious. The game also features a morality system, although most of the time there's not an actual moral choice to make, but you have to figure out through trial and error which actions (or lack of) may or may not result in a good outcome.


The end result is an awkwardly controlled, unpolished game that tries to bite off way more than it can chew. The fact the game takes less than an hour to complete doesn't help either, and you wont ever need more than three playthroughs to experience everything it has to offer.


In the end, this is a Playstation Move demo, which also explains why SCE decided to publish it.

jackyccm
jackyccm

I agree with the score. I am all for creativity and trying to do something different, which is why I bought it, but the lack of instructions, narrations, awkward movements, even if it is a 1:1 tracking, it just doesn't work well. Right now, I am stuck at the statue holding a pot and a plate. I know there is something there, and I am touching it, but aside from the Move controller vibrating, there is nothing else happening. I decided to stop playing because I feel very disconcerting to keep touching and rubbing the statue...

Black_Knight_00
Black_Knight_00

It's on sale for 3.99 so I got it, it's way better than I expected actually, I don't get all the complaints about the hand, since it works just fine. Yes, it's short, but it's also very atmospheric and immersive and the forest looks slmost photorealistic at a glance.Surely not a game for most players. I guess the people who dislike this also complain about Journey.

moonlightwolf01
moonlightwolf01

Gotta agree with Mark here, If a piece of art is so pointlessly convoluted that only the artist themselves understand it then it has no meaning other than as a vanity project for the artist.

frostysherman
frostysherman

This game is amazing...you can play with the move controller or dualshock....multiple paths..replay value..this game is a preview of the future..psplus price is 7.99..i am enjoying it very much

white_wind
white_wind

I bought it :) , screw the reviewes, I have money

DeroxKING
DeroxKING

Datura is actually a plant that when ingested causes Delirium tot he person who has consumed it, and is considered a psyachadelic trip. soo im wondering if this game has anythign to do with that

carloscanalesv
carloscanalesv

I don't know...Those same criticisms are bestowed upon most of David Lynch ouvre and to me his work is always mesmerising and affecting.

jma1024x
jma1024x

Some T&A would surely have boosted the score? Say it ain't so GS!

DethSkematik
DethSkematik

Despite the score, reading the review actually made the game sound pretty good. I'd love to try it out, but I don't own a Move controller.

FeedOnATreeFrog
FeedOnATreeFrog

Despite the low score it still seems like it warrants a playthrough, especially for those interested in interactive art, motion controls for immersion, etc.

Setsuka13
Setsuka13

I liked it. It wasn't amazing, but it was interesting. Perhaps not worth your money, but worth your time at least.

UnwantedSpam
UnwantedSpam

Shame such a trippy and surreal game is getting such poor reviews...maybe I'll pick it up if Sony ever decides to discount it.

 

But, could you imagine playing this while on shrooms? It would probably throw you into a parallel universe and eventual 16-minute coma.

RodWelst777
RodWelst777

@DeroxKING Spoiler Alert!!!

There is a scene where you can pick up one of the Spiky Datura Seeds and you start Tripping and wind up in a Hospital...

carloscanalesv
carloscanalesv

 @DeroxKING so it's clear then that is why the main character is in that ambulance at the beginning of the game.

 

MonkeySpot
MonkeySpot

 @DethSkematik Though it's a Move game, supposedly you can play it with a standard controller. I dunno, it looks kind of cool to play after properly relaxing, but the price is too high if the buzz only lasts 90min., in my book.

carloscanalesv
carloscanalesv

 @MonkeySpot I've just found out through IGN's review that the game has different outcomes based on your choices.

So, the lenght factor shouldn't be an issue, considering it warrants replayability.

Datura

  • PlayStation 3
Datura is a game from the creators of Linger in Shadows that utilizes the PlayStation Move motion controller.
ESRB
Teen
All Platforms
Check out even more info at the Datura Wiki on Giantbomb.com
Average Score See all 33 Player Reviews
6.3
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