In a little more than a month, Cyan’s Obduction will finally arrive on PC, Mac and the Oculus Rift. It’s been a long ride for the development studio. The initial Kickstarter campaign started in 2013, and after three years of development, the so-called “spiritual successor” to Myst and Riven is nearly ready for launch. At E3, I had the chance to see an early build of Cyan’s latest project.
Unravel The Mystery
During the meeting, I had the chance to play the game on both PC and the Rift, so I started with the PC version. The game takes place in Hunrath, a mysterious location with little sign of life. Abandoned buildings showed that a thriving community once lived in the area, but something happened that forced most of the residents to leave or suffer a more dire fate.
With Obduction, Cyan hasn’t lost its touch. From the very beginning of the demo, it’s obvious that the world of Hunrath is beautiful. One of the first images I saw was the expanse of rock and sky, which made for some majestic scenery while also providing a sense of isolation. With the exception of your foot moving across the ground or the occasional howl of the wind, I was alone in this world--or so I thought.
As expected, Obduction is all about exploration. There are levers to pull, wheels to turn, and slips of paper to read, and they’re all scattered throughout the world. I met some characters that provided vague hints as to what happened in Hunrath. In typical Cyan fashion, these characters were displayed as full-motion video clips, an obvious callback to the days of Myst. Unlike Myst, which presented the game as a series of “slides” or a group of separate areas, each with enough space for interaction as you moved from one location to another, you can walk around the world of Hunrath with ease. You’re no longer confined to a single viewpoint, so you can can admire every stunning level of detail that the world has to offer.
There are times when it felt like I wasn’t making any progress, but that’s part of the fun of Obduction. I had to look at every nook and cranny of the world in order to move the story forward. Even then, it’s hard to deny that the world around you is quite a sight. You can find the next lever to pull or puzzle to solve, or you can find a scenic location and just enjoy the view.
The Best Way To Play
After the PC demo, I tried Obduction on the Oculus Rift. The VR build had a different level than the PC version, but once again Cyan produced a beautiful scenic experience that was even more stunning in virtual reality.
I started the VR demo near a moving platform located in the middle of a canyon. Just like in the PC demo, I was astonished by the scenery around me. The sound of a nearby waterfall was soothing in this tall (and deep) canyon. I spun around on the swivel chair as I admired the environment that Cyan created.
By default, I couldn’t move freely around the world in the VR build. Walking around in VR is a nauseating experience for some players, so Cyan devised a method it calls “Node Mode.” Similar to Cloudhead Games’ Blink feature, Node Mode works as you look at various locations in your vicinity. A small, blue halo light shines on the ground, indicating that you can move to that spot by simply pressing a button.
Chris Doyle, Cyan’s Director of New Experiences, also said that VR players will have a variety of options to choose from on how the game is presented in VR so that it’s not a nauseating experience. This includes changing the type of transition effect when you use Node Mode or switching the style of camera rotation to either a snap feature or a smooth, 360-degree pan.
There are even multiple ways to present the in-game cursor. You can have it on at all times, or you just have it appear when you interact with an object. You can also interact with objects in two ways: In the case of a large lever, you can look at it and then press a button on the controller to activate the lever movement, or you can lock the cursor on the lever by holding down the trigger button on the Xbox controller and then tilting your head in one direction to move the mechanism.
In short, these options show that Cyan took the extra step to accommodate all types of VR players. Some are easily affected by nausea, whereas others can play a VR title for hours without taking off the HMD. With these options, both groups will be able to enjoy Obduction in VR.
Exploring the world on Hunrath in VR was the perfect way to enjoy Obduction. The game provided some amazing views combined with exploration and mystery, which was more than enough to make it a worthy member of Cyan’s list of titles.
As I took off the Rift, I wondered about Cyan’s future in the VR space. Obduction is a great title for VR, but then again, the studio’s past titles could also make a similar splash if they’re made for virtual reality. There is a wealth of possibilities available to the developers once Obduction is out. They could work on a sequel to Obduction, a new title altogether, or (my personal favorite possibility) a VR remake of Myst and Riven.
|Release Date||July 26, 2016|
|Platforms||PC, Mac, Oculus Rift|