Datura. Where to begin? I’ve been thinking long and hard about this game and to be honest I’m still none the wiser. Coming from Plastic, the same team behind PlayStation 3 title, Linger in the Shadows, this is a game that’ll have you scratching your head, both when you start and when you finish. To be honest I’m still trying to come to grips with what I’ve just seen and it may take me playing through a few more times before I finally have my answer.
*Please note that there are major spoilers in this review, please do not read this review if you intend on playing the game first.*
So what is Datura? Well, in a real world sense it’s a flower, which if ingested has the same effect as a a hallucinogen, causing those who eat it to have a complete inability to differentiate reality from fantasy. I mention this because the game often makes references to the Datura flower, it can be seen as you walk through the world you find yourself in and its fruit also plays a small part later in the game. Perhaps suggesting that the protagonist has himself divulged in this dangerous plant, although anyone playing will no doubt have their own interpretation of the events which take place.
When the game starts out you find yourself in the back of an ambulance, there is no indication as to how you got there, although later on there are a few suggestions as to what caused your plight. Soon after waking and finding yourself in the ambulance you are then transformed to a different land, a forest full of trees and leaves, as well as quite a few mysteries.
The controls grant you two options, Move or Dualshock 3. Having tried both I have to say that the experience is a lot more intense with Move, especially when you switch on the 3D effects (essential if you have access to a 3DTV). Datura gives you a first person view of the action, although the only part of your character which is visible is his hand. Wandering through the forest you’ll solve puzzles, come across dangerous situations and even find yourself travelling to some distant past as your character has, what can only be described as, flashbacks into the past.
As you wander through the forest you are encouraged to interact with everything around you. When a area of interest is in view, a triangle symbol will appear on the screen. Often this will result in your trying to solve some sort of puzzle in order to get something you need, although sometimes it’ll be as simple as touching a white tree, at which point your character will pull out a pencil and paper and map the area around you.
Datura will often greet you with many choices, especially when the flashbacks come to the fore. One example is when you distract a pig and follow it through a hollow path, this will then see your character awaken, driving a car along a dimly lit road. Eventually you’ll see the pig on the same stretch of road, do you swerve or do you run it over? The game is littered with choices like this, taking the positive path will keep the forest bright and full of lovely butterflies, while making negative choices will give the forest a darker mood. This of course means that there is plenty of replayability, as it allows you to go back and take a different path.
As you play through this bizarre game, you’ll find your journey accompanied by an ever changing soundtrack. Depending on the mood, the music will become more intense, but even when it’s calm, the effect of the music is simply mindblowing, without it this would not be half the experience it is. The same can be said for the presentation, even though the graphics may not blow you away, they still offer a sense of reality which helps draw you into the experience even more.
Datura certainly won’t be for everyone, that’s for sure. Those who are curious will find something both unique and interesting awaiting them, while others will no doubt dismiss some sort of strange tech demo. One thing that is certain, is that anyone who does take the plunge and buys this game should prepare to be confused.
Rating: Not Rated Review Policy (version tested: PSN)