Obduction, 1

For anyone who’s wondered about my lack of posts here lately — it’s because I’m recovering from my obsession with the game The Witness by becoming obsessed with the new Myst-like game Obduction, which I’ve been preoccupied with since its release on August 24th. Interrupted by weekends, a business trip to SoCal, time each day for Locus Online posts, and now actual paid work from home for my old company.

As I’ve said, I’m not a regular player of video games, and it’s unprecedented in my life for there to be two games that interest me in one year. These games are beautiful and compelling in many ways, but the downside is that everything else I might be doing with my retirement ‘free time’ — project work, reading, scanning old family photos — moves to the back burner. I need to finish this game asap, in order to get back to those productive endeavors. Life is short.

Obduction is much like the Myst games, including Uru, in that in entails a ‘world’ on which the player first appears, followed by access to three or four additional worlds, with links among them, in order to complete some overall mission. Obduction is more sf-nal than the Myst games; the premise is that aliens of some kind have abducted humans from various times in history, and plopped them into some self-enclosed world, or cell, called Hunrath. But when the player arrives in Hunrath, everyone is gone, the place is deserted — so the game play involves (again typically) turning on the power to access various devices, open various doors, and subsequently access these several other worlds, in order to figure out where these abducted people have gone, and how to save them.

All with great graphics, reportedly. As I said earlier, games like these are designed for high-end PC or gaming systems at any one time, and I’m always rather behind the curve. To play this game on my several-years’-old average PC, I have all the graphics settings set on low, and still the game hangs for minutes at a time, when trying to move too quickly. Also, all the games in the Myst franchise are notorious for gameplay that involves back-and-forth traffic of some sort. In this game, it’s required to ‘teleport’ from one world to another multiple times, and each teleport takes anywhere from 2 to 15 minutes! I gather this is an issue of loading content from the harddrive into the game, rather than repeatedly downloading content from some server — Obduction is hosted by Steam — but even so, I can’t understand why these transitions take so g*d* long.

So I usually have the game running in the background, and do something productive on another computer in the foreground.

I think today I have finished the third of the four worlds in this game. I have not had to consult online walkthroughs since the very beginning, for hints, though I do check some of the walkthroughs, of areas I’ve already finished, just to see if I’ve missed anything. (The first of these I saw was so horribly written I could hardly tell the writer had been to the places I’d visited. A second one is better.) As of now, I can’t find a walkthrough that’s gone past what I’ve completed by myself.

However, I am now at a new impasse — having completed the third world this morning, I now have no idea how to access the fourth. I reach such an impasse about once a day of gameplay, and generally I go to lunch, or sleep over night, and when I resume it occurs to me…. did you check that path? Did you return to the area you haven’t been back to since the beginning? What was the point of that elevator call-button, if not to use it at some point? And so on. And something occurs to me, and I move on, without having to resort to online hints.

So I expect tomorrow morning, something will occur to me, about where that fourth world can be accessed. I need to find it soon, so I can get back to my various sorts of work.

I’ll have at least one later post, Obduction 2, to summarize what I think about the game once I’ve finished it.

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