First Look: ‘Obduction’ is a VR-Powered Adventure from the Creators of ‘Myst’
When the creators of a renowned, classic gaming franchise take to Kickstarter to help fund a new game, you take notice. And when the creators in question are Cyan Worlds, the studio behind the legendary Myst and Riven games – the very adventure games that helped popularize the genre – you take special notice.
Cyan Worlds have been happily chugging away with development on Obduction for a while now with a few bits of footage in trailers and screenshots occasionally popping up to keep people excited. Now that we know the official release date, price, and distribution platforms, all that’s left is knowing how the actual game itself is after all this time. Especially since the VR version has been kept tightly under wraps – until now.
Today, just at the start of E3 2016, UploadVR was given a world premier first-look at the game just a month away from launch. We went hands on with Obduction in VR and spoke with Rand Miller, one of the original creators of Myst, about this new project.
Exploring a World of Mystery
My preview began in the valley between two tall mountains, pictured above. Immediately, I was blown away by how beautiful this strange, new world appeared. Anyone that’s played the game’s Cyan is known for – Myst and Riven, primarily – will have an intimate understanding of the type of environment on display.
What those games can’t prepare you for, however, is how immense and immersive the world of Obduction is. Throughout my 30-minute preview build, I was constantly stopping to stare at the sky, or gaze off of the edge of a cliff, or just gawk at the colors and atmosphere. It was breathtaking.
“Obduction is all about answering the question of: ‘What happens when someone gets obducted?” says Rand Miller of Cyan Games. “It’s less about what happens to you as a person and who obducted you, and more about where you’re taken and what you see on that journey. You need to figure out what happened and why the world is like this.”
In Obduction’s VR format, there are a handful of different locomotion settings. This shows the team’s attention to detail for designing a game in VR. Since it will be released for both VR and non-VR formats, it was paramount to nail each and every movement system.
At first, I can teleport to different blue “nodes” on the ground at preset destinations simply by moving the Xbox One control stick. I can turn the sticks to rotate my view, or simply turn my head and body to reorient myself. Alternatively, I can click the left stick to activate a free movement mode. For someone with extensive VR experience, it may not cause any type of VR sickness, but for the less initiated it could present some issues, thus the creation of the teleportation mechanic.
The first puzzles I found included pulling levers, turning wheels, and exploring my environment to uncover hidden passageways. Everything felt very natural and, in many ways, much like an authentic Cyan Worlds game, which is clearly by design.
Redefining Adventure Games for VR
“It’s very much a world that feels lived in,” states Miller. “People have been here, but now its abandoned, and part of the experience is trying to figure out what’s happened.”
From my short time with the game, I have no idea what the answers to those questions are, but I can’t wait to dig in and find out more. Miller estimates “10-15 hours” for most people, but in VR, he could easily anticipate it taking even longer.
While the length is similar to Riven, in that it is a bit beefier, the story itself is actually richer and more vibrant than their earlier games, such as Myst. The world has more to interact with and discover than the games displayed only on a traditional flat monitor.
Even though Obduction is releasing for VR and non-VR simultaneously, it was developed from the very start, even before the Kickstarter campaign, to include VR. That mindset has allowed the team at Cyan to create something that feels magical on both ends of the spectrum, but Miller is clear in that his passion for VR as the “future of gaming” is undeniable.
They estimate that it won’t be as difficult as Riven, and may even be a bit easier than Myst, as they view Obduction as a reintroduction of the adventure genre to a new and much wider audience. Part of that, includes the creation of a “snapshot” system, similar to an inventory of sorts.
Back in the old days, you could scribble down notes on pieces of paper while you played, but when you’re inside of a VR headset that isn’t exactly possible. Instead, the game will have systems that help you along the way, without giving too many hints.
Obduction releases for PC on July 26th, 2016, for $29.99 on Steam, GOG.com, the Humble Store, the Mac App Store, and the Oculus Store. Expect to find out more details about this upcoming adventure game epic as the weeks go by.