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Datura – The PS3 Attitude Review

Submitted by on Friday, 11 May 20122 Comments

Plastic’s first venture onto PSN was 2008’s Linger in Shadows, which to this day remains arguably the weirdest title on the service. The Polish demoscene group’s latest release, Datura, was released this week on the PlayStation Store, and is almost as unusual as its predecessor.

Datura begins with the unnamed playable character lying on a bed in the back of an ambulance, with no clue as to how you got there. As you attempt to remove yourself from the bed, all of a sudden you fall into cardiac arrest, and a paramedic frantically tries to resuscitate you.

Next thing you know, you’re in a large forest full of curious objects such as a statue, a doorway, and an abandoned shack. Interact with any of these items and you’ll be transported to a different location, and forced to make a moral decision.

For example, you must choose between saving a man trapped under a frozen lake and obtaining a PSN trophy. In that scenario, the ‘correct’ option may seem obvious, but others are much more ambiguous, to the extent that you may not even be aware that you are making a choice.

Like fellow PSN title Journey, Datura is best experienced with no preconceptions, so revealing any more of the plot could count as a spoiler. Just know that if you’re a fan of games with a mysterious and psychological edge to them, you’ll most likely appreciate what Datura is trying to do.

The game itself reminds us a lot of the classic graphic adventure title Myst, in that you are followed everywhere you go by a real sense of foreboding, and you never know what you’ll come across next. Without a doubt, Datura’s greatest strength is its presentation.

The music and sound effects are fittingly chilling and the graphics, while not quite amazing, are extremely impressive for a downloadable title. Leaves crunch underfoot and fly around in the wind, and it all comes together to create an incredible atmosphere.

However, it’s difficult to appreciate what the game does well, because everything is overshadowed by one major flaw: the controls. Datura is playable with either the PlayStation Move or a standard DualShock 3 controller, but to be honest neither option works particularly well.

It was clearly designed with the PS Move in mind, so it’s strange that the controller feels so awkward to use with the game. The controls are clunky and unresponsive, and we had several problems with calibration, even though we’ve never had any issues playing previous Move-enabled titles.

Unfortunately, playing with a DualShock isn’t much better, mainly because you are forced to use Sixaxis motion controls at certain points. During one of these sections, the game simply would not do what we wanted it to, forcing us to switch back to the Move just to get to the next checkpoint.

Another disappointment is the game’s short length, as it can be completed in less than two hours. This isn’t a massive issue on its own, but the frustrating controls mean that you might not want a second playthrough, even to see what other choices you could have made.

With better and less temperamental controls, Datura could have been something genuinely special. As it is, Plastic’s second PSN title is still well worth a download for people who like games that do things a bit different to the norm, but is far from essential for everyone else.