By Spencer . March 15, 2012 . 6:20pm
Datura, a new game from Sony Santa Monica Studios and the makers of Linger in Shadows, is more of an experience than a game. The title begins with your character in an ambulance ripping off EKG sensors. You go into shock and a nurse tries to resuscitate you…
… then you wake up in a forest controlling a floating hand with the PlayStation Move controller. "I found myself within a forest dark, for the straightforward pathway had been lost…" the game says and you’re literally lost in a forest. A memo hints that touching white trees done by pressing triangle and rubbing them by reaching out with the move controller is important to the game. I grabbed a notepad from that tree and a pen. The pen was actually a lock picking tool and I made a turning motion to open the lock and enter the forest.
Datura (which is also a name of a poisonous flower) doesn’t give players directions. An icon guides you when there are objects to interact with, but otherwise you’re free to wander around. I discovered an abandoned shooting range in a rustic building, Using the glowing wand I interacted with a gun (it was jammed at first) but tossing a baseball at cans (like a carnival game) I got it to work. That started a shoot the duck mini-game which I completed to, but Datura didn’t give player feedback on what (if anything) these actions accomplished.
While the game starts in a forest, there are parts that warp players into other scenes with choices. After pulling a face out of a tree, I was whisked away into a snowy area with a pickaxe in hand. I could either rescue a person trapped in the ice or to dig up a trophy in the snow. Datura, the game’s director Michal Staniszewski explained to me Datura is full of choices, but there isn’t a good or evil system in the game. Another screenshot shows a character driving, which probably takes place outside of the forest area.
After you complete a scenario flies or butterflies come out and the forest changes as well depending on your decisions. One really neat bit of technology Staniszewski showed me was a virtual reality version of Datura that uses a head mounted display. When this option is enabled, audio and video is streamed into Sony’s Virtual Boy-like helmet. The headset doesn’t detect motion, so the team at Sony Studios Santa Monica attached a second PlayStation Move controller with velcro to it. This lets players turn their head to change the camera and use the other wand to interact with the game’s world.
Playing Datura with a headset was an immersive experience, but Staniszewski isn’t sure this feature will be part of the final game. Right now, they’re just testing it. Datura will be released for PS3 as a PlayStation Network download soon. Check back for our interview with Staniszewski.