I don't know whether I'd go so far as to call Datura a game, as such. Hell, it's hard enough trying to define the genre. Calling it a trippy, exploration / adventure experience is about the best I can do, but even that doesn't quite nail it. But then, would you expect anything less from a PSN downloadable named after a plant with hallucinogenic properties?
After a brief but alarming intro scene, where an observationally-challenged nurse tries to defibrillate you, then plunge a syringe full of adrenaline into your ticker, you (understandably) black out and find yourself dumped in the middle of a forest, with no idea of how you got there, or what to do next.
Exploring and interacting with objects within the forest transports you briefly to other scenarios; an eclectic mixture of out-of-body experiences, where you are presented with choices. The 'right' ones - generally selfless and constructive actions - reward you with a cloud of butterflies on your return to the forest, whereas the 'wrong' ones - i.e. generally selfish or destructive - result in a cloud of nasty black bugs instead (where's that can of Raid when you need it?)
A floating, disembodied hand is your means of getting things done, and you have the option of using either the trusty Sixaxis or the Move. Onscreen prompts offer clues as to what to do: twist, pull, throw... get touchy-feely with the trees etc.. To be honest, the Move delivers better responses and a more immersive experience than the Sixaxis controller, since the actions closely mimic your own. However there were times when the disembodied hand simply refused to cooperate, regardless of which peripheral was used - and I did try them both. This was the most frustrating aspect of the game, and its weakest point by far.
One thing Datura has got going for it are the graphics and sound (okay, that's two things...) [Not if you call it "presentation" - Ed.] The forest manages to appear stark and ethereal at the same time; its dead branches and carpet of fallen leaves softened by clouds of butterflies and a subtle, pervading mist. There's also quite a bit of visual contrast between the various scenarios, ranging from present day urban night-time to the trenches of WWI, with some funky, psychedelic transitions in between. Oh, and it’s also compatible with 3D TVs, for those lucky enough to own them. The visuals are partnered with an 'easy on the ears' soundtrack, which adds atmosphere and drama, enriching the overall experience.
There were one or two puzzle solving 'Aha!' moments and some intriguing, original scenarios, but the ride was over far too quickly for Datura to capitalise on any potential for gaming greatness - or even to gain momentum. From go to woe took me just an hour and a half. At best you may be up for a couple of hours till the end credits roll, but don't expect to feel a sense of accomplishment; the ending is both abrupt and unsatisfying.
Ultimately, Datura comes across as more of a fragmented, artsy homage to Sony's magic wand, rather than a genuine source of entertainment... and for most gamers, entertainment is boss.
|Publisher||Sony Computer Entertainment|
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