NOBODY likes a missed opportunity. Sometimes a game belongs to a certain time — if you don’t play it upon release, the moment is lost, writes Ronan Jennings

Years later, a classic game might seem antiquated, outdated, passé. Well, here’s one opportunity you don’t want to miss — even though, technically speaking, it was made to be a Myst opportunity.

Obduction is the latest game from Cyan studios, the same company that brought us all-time classics Myst and Riven. Obduction is a modern-day version of those legendary games, created by the same team and designers, but with cutting-edge graphics in the Unreal 4 engine. It’s a brilliant breath of fresh air that combines old-school puzzle design and atmosphere with high-end production values.

Just like an Irish village in the ’50s, there’s no hand-holding in Obduction. In the opening scene, you are dropped into the desert town of Hunrath with very little notion of where to go or what to do. The story implies that you were abducted — and Hunrath itself seems to confirm as much.

The town has the trappings of an American settlement from the Old West, but with power lines and intricate machinery that don’t quite fit with the time.

It’s a bit like seeing a terminator on Craggy Island. Then, as you explore the outskirts of the settlement, an alien landscape veers into view, with floating islands and pulsing rocks. The town of Hunrath, it appears, was carved up and removed from Earth, like a diorama created for alien observation.

For the most part, your only glimpse of other people is through holographic messages left behind, that paint a picture of a town preparing for some encroaching battle, but sometimes you will meet people who survived the battle, hidden behind doors or panes of glass, who will propel you forward in the journey of discovery.

Like the original Myst, such discovery is essential to the overall experience. Obduction is a game in which not having all the answers is a part of the joy. Why are you here? Is it possible to escape? Why were these people so obsessed with obtuse puzzles?

To finish the game, you too will become obsessed by those puzzles. In the spirit of Cyan’s previous games, the brain-teasers are sometimes incredibly difficult, but always logical and fair once you discover that ‘eureka’ moment. Studying your environment is essential to finding clues about what comes next and while some puzzles might stump you for a while, there’s never any confusion about what direction you should be moving.

Technically speaking, Obduction is a real treat. The graphics are some of 2016’s most beautiful, both in their artistry and competence. Just like Myst back in 1993, Obduction pushes the limits of what modern PCs are capable of achieving.

In addition, the game offers you the choice of moving around in ‘free roam’ mode, like a normal first-person game, or in classic ‘teleportation’ mode, like Myst and Riven did 20 years ago.

Both options are welcome, but the second is most exciting, because it works perfectly with virtual reality movement design. The VR version of this game, set for release later this year, will make an already brilliant experience something very special indeed.

Back in 2003, Myst was the game that launched a thousand CD-ROM drives and went on to become a legend in the industry. While Obduction won’t have the same impact, it’s a wonderful, alien experience that is well worth your time. Don’t miss it.

AIMING SKY HIGH

Many gamers feel No Man’s Sky is a missed opportunity. One of the year’s most hyped games, made by UCC graduate and Irish developer Sean Murray, has received a lot of flak for what some gamers feel were broken promises. Features that were said to be in the final game are missing, they claim, including the ability to interact with other players, take sides in a galactic war, and more.

On the other hand, many gamers also cite the experience as exactly what they had hoped for — a relaxing road-trip through a procedurally generated universe.

Hopefully, Sean and his team will fix some of the problems players have addressed in the forthcoming 1.06 patch. In the meantime, Steam and Sony have quietly started giving refunds on the game.


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