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Hands-On: PSN Game Datura Aims to Move You

Sid Shuman's Avatar + Posted by Sid Shuman on Mar 15, 2012 // Senior Manager, Social Media

I’ve never seen a game quite like Datura. I encountered this upcoming PSN adventure title last week during a GDC demonstration that showed off the game’s intricate use of the PlayStation Move motion controller. In Datura, your gestures with PS Move guide a disembodied hand onscreen, a bit like a mouse cursor but in a full 3D space. The motion tracking is 1:1, so I was able to reach into the game to interact with the environment, whether it was to caress a tree trunk or pull a hand-drawn map in for closer inspection. In the video below, Producer Matt Morton gives a full tour of Datura’s interface and universe — it’s absolutely worth watching.




Intrigued by the game’s cryptic presentation and strong emphasis on player choice, I spoke with Director Michal Staniszewski to learn more about his inspirations. If Datura intrigues you, be sure to tune into this Thursday’s PlayStation Blogcast for another segment discussing this enigmatic PSN title. And if you have questions, be sure to leave them in the comments.

Sid Shuman, PlayStation.Blog: First off, what’s the significance of the name “Datura”?
Michal Staniszewski, director, Datura: It’s named after the flower, the ambivalence of the flower. Because it’s very pretty from one side and poisonous from another. People have these daturas on their balconies and gardens, because they love the way they look, but they need to be very cautious not to touch them.

PSB: So how does that ambivalence roll into the choices you make in the game?
MS: The choices are not straightforward: It’s not good vs evil, but more like complete opposites. The decisions are generally not right in your face; you may not even notice that you made a decision.

PSB: What element did you settle on first? Move? The choices? The concept of being in a forest?
MS: The first thing was the hand. When I was first examining the PS Move motion controller, and I thought it would be cool to make a virtual reality-type game you could play at home. Then I started thinking about choices, something nonlinear. And the forest came from a quotation from Dante (“I found myself within a forest dark, for the straightfoward pathway had been lost…”), which ruminates on what happens when you die.


Datura for PS3 (PSN)

PSB: The scene in the ambulance at the beginning of the game — was I dying?
MS: Well, that depends on your interpretation. Some people think they’re dying or dreaming. We wanted to pose a question to the player — what happens when you die? There are a lot of people on this planet and they have completely different beliefs about that. What we would like to propose with Datura is something completely different, so it’s more for you to interpret. It’s more personal.

What we would like to achieve with Datura is to create discussion. During our internal playtests, after finishing the game, people were talking with each other about it — about their experiences and how they differed. We discovered that each playtester had a different experience with it, which was very interesting. We heard a lot of people saying, “that completely changes my point of view on the game!” It’s very ripe for interpretation.

PSB: Were there any films or TV shows that influenced Datura? I detect a Twin Peaks influence…
MS: Oh, tons [laughs]. I’ve watched almost everything from David Lynch from the very beginning. But there have been a ton of sources of inspiration. I like to influence my brain from a lot of different sources.

There are two main schools of artistic expression. An artist might not influenced by anything; if he has a pure mind, he can discover new paths that other people didn’t see. But there’s another path, where you absorb a lot of different things and try to mix up something new. I don’t know where I fall, exactly. But yes, David Lynch was definitely an influence.

PSB: I would be tempted to describe Datura as a mystery game. Is that accurate?
MS: It might be, it’s part of the interpretation. Some people are describing it as an old-school adventure game and others are describing it as an experience. They turned it on, experienced it, turned it off and then talked about it and shared their thoughts. It’s like going to a good movie, one that touches you, and you talk about it on the way out. “What did you think about this part?”

PSB: Some are comparing the game to Myst. Was Myst an influence?
MS: [laughs] Actually, to be honest, I haven’t played Myst. I had an Amiga for a long, long time and they never released Myst for it. I know what Myst is, I’ve read the reviews and watched videos. For Datura, we originally started with the idea of static, pre-rendered environments with paths you chose. But that was very limited. Myst was a milestone for games, but we shouldn’t try to go back. Free movement is much more immersive.

PSB: I noticed butterflies and insects flying around in the environments. What’s their significance?
MS: Another symbol of the game’s ambivalence, the opposites — the butterflies being bright, the bugs being dark. The choices you make influence the environment. We didn’t want to make it too straightforward; when you go deeply into the game, if you make darker decisions, the forest will collapse and change into a dark woods. If you make other decisions, the forest will become brighter.

//Add Your Own

26 Comments   6 Replies

1

+ Blkant on March 15th, 2012 at 9:06 am said:

Interesting to say the least, I’ve been wondering what would come of the old datura youtube videos that were found roughly a year ago. Glad to see we can try it out, though I do hope they add actual arms too not just floating hands. :P


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    + Sid Shuman on March 15th, 2012 at 1:51 pm said:

    Nope, it’s going to be a disembodied hand :-) It’s easier to animate, and gives the game a bit of a surrealist bent — which I rather appreciated.


2

+ John-Shooter on March 15th, 2012 at 9:31 am said:

might consider it but idk yet now that im digging into games on the vita


3

+ Mattsta001 on March 15th, 2012 at 9:47 am said:

Add arms, even if they are translucent. Floating hands look silly.


4

+ Tchanku on March 15th, 2012 at 9:49 am said:

I’ve been putting off a lot of games, but I think I will be getting this day one.


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    + Sid Shuman on March 15th, 2012 at 1:52 pm said:

    I was super interested based on what I saw and played. It’s much more in the vein of games like Shadowgate, if you ever played that, but far more advanced and modern.


5

+ Blackinwoman on March 15th, 2012 at 9:54 am said:

In this game will be greetings to the demoscene ? :)


6

+ Shin-Ra on March 15th, 2012 at 10:03 am said:

I love unique, real technical showcase games so I’m sure I’ll be picking this up.

I know you can use face buttons to walk forward and maybe back and this is nice for those that just want to hold the MoCon but as a longtime gamer I feel more comfortable using an analog stick for this so if you could provide some control options for the NavCon too that would be great. As there’s DS3 support it makes sense that left stick walking is already supported in some fashion.

Like tumble, probably my favourite PS Move game, it would have been so much better if experienced players could have controlled the camera using the NavCon while still manipulating the blocks with the MoCon.


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    + Sid Shuman on March 15th, 2012 at 1:53 pm said:

    Interesting question, didn’t think of that. I didn’t find that walking (which you do by holding the main Move button with your thumb) was difficult at all, FWIW.


7

+ G-Force08 on March 15th, 2012 at 10:28 am said:

Looks very interesting, I’ll definitely be keeping my eye on this one.


8

+ Tremulan777 on March 15th, 2012 at 10:35 am said:

I’m so gonna get it when it comes out. We need more game like this. Move support even better. Any release date at the moment?


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    + Sid Shuman on March 15th, 2012 at 1:53 pm said:

    No details yet, but it’s definitely not months and months off. Fairly soon-ish….


9

+ lisatsunami on March 15th, 2012 at 10:37 am said:

Wierd, creepy, scary. Very interesting and thoughtful. I’m not sure what I think of it yet. I appreciate a game using 1 to 1 Move. I would appreciate it more if it uses the nav controller. I’m not sure if the disembodied hand is too creepy for me to want to play. Not sure yet, but I am intrigued.

However, I will say this: an indie game that is NOT a platformer? Outstanding! Wish the other 90% of indie devs could display such creativity.


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    + Sid Shuman on March 15th, 2012 at 1:54 pm said:

    :-)


10

+ JohnAlden on March 15th, 2012 at 11:20 am said:

Reminds of an very old pc game I used to play called MYST, Anyone remember it?


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    + Sid Shuman on March 15th, 2012 at 1:54 pm said:

    The developer said he never played Myst! But it did remind me of one of my favorite games of yesteryear, Shadowgate.


11

+ mcbuttz78 on March 15th, 2012 at 11:23 am said:

this game is going to give the jounrney a run for it money when it comes out.. I honestly know that much. This very good for gamers


12

+ amjr72 on March 15th, 2012 at 11:44 am said:

OMG i’ve been wishing for a graphic adventure with motion controls since the wii remote was shown years ago!

Dear Playstation, now that the obligatory dance games and minigames collections are out can we have more of this, please? My Move is cllecting dust waiting for Sorcery.


13

+ BrushYourTeeth on March 15th, 2012 at 12:12 pm said:

I always wanted to play a game as Thing from Addams Family!
Kidding.
This looks pretty great, I’ve been wondering if we’d ever get a move game along the lines of this and now I have my answer. Is this going to be at PAX? I’ll be there, looking to preview games and I definitely want to write about this.


14

+ tusunami on March 15th, 2012 at 12:29 pm said:

Finally original games built from the ground up for Ps Move, can i get a booyah!!!!!!!!!


15

+ Berae on March 15th, 2012 at 12:45 pm said:

ohhh that looks very interesting! Probably a must buy.


16

+ Shin-Ra on March 15th, 2012 at 12:48 pm said:

There’s another cool official Datura video here:

http://youtu.be/8Ng8UW1_F1g?hd=1

And more play-through demos:

http://www.gametrailers.com/video/immersion-walkthrough-datura/728098
http://uk.ign.com/videos/2012/03/15/the-wonders-of-datura-on-psn

Also, a lot of people don’t know that Plastic designed Santa Monica Studio’s current logo and the animated version.


17

+ Lucky-27 on March 15th, 2012 at 1:11 pm said:

Please fill out the arm, that cut-off hand is gross and creepy!


18

+ poodude on March 15th, 2012 at 1:21 pm said:

Huge Linger In Shadows fan, so this is definitely a day one buy for me.


19

+ Elway358 on March 15th, 2012 at 2:27 pm said:

Interesting looking without a doubt. Will definately have to check it out. Reminds me of a cross between “Myst” and “The Eleventh Hour”.


20

+ RydogV on March 15th, 2012 at 3:15 pm said:

This looks pretty interesting. Looking forward to Blogcast in hopes it might shed some more insight. I gotta say you guys have turned me on to some pretty great games since I started reading and listening regularly. Makes me appreciate my PlayStation products more and more. Great to have another great Move game on the horizon.


21

+ DaNTi3L on March 15th, 2012 at 5:04 pm said:

amazing graphics


22

+ Ghost-of-SpartaX on March 15th, 2012 at 5:20 pm said:

Played it and Sorcery at the SXSW event in Austin,TX. BTW it was awesome


23

+ smthng on March 16th, 2012 at 6:41 am said:

I was really interested in this at one time. Unfortunately, the more I see, the less I like. I’m starting to think it’s just a ton of 30 second puzzles and waggle-gymnastics. In this case, I refer specifically to the part in the above video where he’s bashing through the ice… Look at what he physically has to do just to make one simple choice. How can that be fun? PLEASE release a demo when this is out!


24

+ YungShep on March 16th, 2012 at 10:19 am said:

i too played it!!!! @ SXSW NEEDLESS TO SAY..I WISH I PLAYED IT IN 3D FIRST. EITHER WAY, THE GAME IS INTENSE, HEAVILY DRIVEN BY DISCOVERY AND PLAYS OUT ALMOST LIKE HEAVY RAIN. U FIND CLUES, ACCESS DIFFERENT AREAS AND THEN A SCENE PLAYS OUT IN FRONT OF YOU..DEPENDING ON WHAT YOU DO DURING THE SEQUENCE, THE AREA AROUND YOU CHANGES, I SPENT 30 MINUTES FIGURING IT OUT, FRUSTRATING AT FIRST BUT AFTER 10 MINUTES I WAS HOOKED

GET EXCITED ABOUT THIS TITLE LADIES AND GENTLEMAN..

B3YOND


25

+ plaztiksyke on March 16th, 2012 at 1:44 pm said:

I loved Linger in Shadows — it was one of the first games I got 100% of the trophies in. I’m really looking forward to this, especially if the audio quality is better. (Linger had awesome music, but it sounded like Wii-level MP3 quality.)

Speaking of Myst: if anyone from Ubisoft is paying attention, a bunch of us would *love* to see RealMYST come to PS3. My husband and I really enjoyed RealMYST on PC, and then Myst III and Myst IV on Xbox1. It would be great to play them all again with 1080p visuals/video and bluray-quality surround sound!


26

+ Neil on March 16th, 2012 at 2:03 pm said:

This game is right up my alley.


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