Dumb People Need Not Buy

From a review of Obduction on GOG:

I’ve played several hours so far and I’ve progressed through several puzzles. Would I say it’s easier? So far, yes. That being said, though, there’s nothing obtuse like needing to know to click on a picture on a wall ala Myst Library. The puzzles are beautifully integrated and subtly hinted at.

Ah hahaha… NO.

A house on an alien planet

My computer is not capable of graphics this good

Now either this person hasn’t got as far as I have (doubtful) or he has a brain that functions very differently.  Obduction is a beautiful game made by the same people who did Myst and is very much like Myst indeed.  Only I don’t remember Myst being so freaking unintuitive.

 

You begin by being abducted by a space strawberry which transports you to an empty alien world.  Well, not entirely empty.  There’s weird chunks of earth scattered around– a house, a piece of a train station.  Strange, stacticky holograms to tell you little bits of information.

All the doors you find are locked.  Which is the first place the game design irked me.  If you lock a house, do not design it to look like all the windows are cracked open.  If the windows are cracked open, why can’t I just push the rest of the way open and climb in?  Of course you can’t do something like that.  Nor can you jump or fall off of anything.  It’s nice not to worry about falling to your death but when the drop off looks to be a mere foot or two, it’s somewhat annoying to have to walk all the way around to the ramp.

Nothing obtuse, huh?  First off there’s a door with a button.  I pushed this and nothing happened.  After a while of not being able to figure out what to do or go or anything, I came back and pushed the button half a dozen times just for the heck of it.  Then, because nothing happened, I walked away.  THEN something happened.  A voice.  Turn around and there’s a guy in the door mumbling at you.  I missed half of it.  I don’t know if CW only comes when you push the button a bunch of times or he just takes freaking forever.  If the latter, then I missed the first time he came.  How should the player know to either wait or keep pushing the button til something happens?

Then we come to another design problem.  If you don’t stand at exactly the right distance from an object, the cursor will not show that it can be interacted with nor will it allow you to do so.  I couldn’t figure out how to get the gate into the generator area open because apparently I was standing too close to that propeller looking doohickey and thus couldn’t change its position.

Getting into Farley’s house is a touch on the obtuse side.  The door code is easy.  Finding the door not so much.  But really that’s not too bad.  You just have to do to the other side of the map and plug the code into a door which looks like it has nothing to do with Farley’s house.  Inside Farley’s house, however, is much worse.  There’s a slide projector and some boards, one of which as a thing you pull down which has the number 15 on it.  I never in a million years would have noticed that were it not for having gotten so frustrated that I had a walkthrough open at that point.  Were it not for the walkthrough, I would not have know that you’re supposed to project some dots on it.  Well, I might have figured that out but I wouldn’t have figured out how to line it up right because when I tried to do it didn’t come out the way the walkthrough picture showed.  It took six tries to get it lined up that way.

Ah, but then comes what that gets used for.  This thing:

Death trap of math

There’s a piece of paper with “instructions” which I couldn’t read.  (That’s an odd thing too: I could read it better if I took a picture of it but just picking it up and looking at it the words are too small and blurry.  I assume this is a graphics problem as the screenshots GOG provides look very different than what I see while playing.)  It’s a math “puzzle.”  Or maybe I should say a screaming nightmare of impossibility for those of us who can’t math.

I’m dyslexic.  I have strenuously avoided anything math since managing to squeak by with “Math for Liberal Arts” in college.  If I’d ever heard of base four, I’d forgotten what it was.  If you’re one of those people who says things like “anybody can learn to do math”, I hope someone punches you in the face because it’s not true.  Some of us are math retards.

I remember Myst being hard.  I remember it being frustrating.  I do not remember having absolutely no idea what to do next or getting the notion that I would never in a million years be able to do what it was asking me to do (maybe briefly in the clock tower).  You get dumped into the world with no explanation.  Same with Obduction.  There’s mysterious recorded messages that make very little sense.  Same with Obduction.  But in Myst certain things are very clear.  You’ve got four books about four worlds to get to and solve.  You have a bunch of clues on how to do this.  It’s not easy, sure.

In Obduction so far, I have no idea what I’m supposed to do next.  There’s no clear goal.  There’s nothing like a sunken boat that needs to be raised or a spaceship that needs to be opened.  There’s an evil math problem and I don’t even know what it does.

I think I’m going to go back and play Myst again.

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