PSN Review – Datura

Datura in the real world, is a genus of flowering plants known for its psychotropic toxins, often causing hallucinations, delirium, even death. A fitting title for the “game”, because after playing through it, I’m left wondering what the hell just happened.

I’m loosely calling it a game, because it’s more of an experience. And it’s an open, deeply psychological experience that’s completely up for interpretation. Even when you’re done with it, you may still not fully understand the series of events that have taken place, why they’re happening, or what they stand for. I’m still trying to make sense of it all my self.

At times, Datura‘s foggy, wooded landscape can be peaceful and serene. But underlying that beauty is pure insanity—just like the flower itself.

The games starts on a hospital gurney. It’s dark, but you can see electrodes on your chest with connecting wires leading to a heart monitor. Using the PlayStation Move, your hand reaches to remove the electrodes from you chest, tossing them to the side. The screen goes black, and you awaken in a misty forest, filled with white-barked trees, fallen leaves, insects, butterflies, and Datura moonflowers. It’s all very strange, but I assure you, that’s the least odd scene in the two hours it takes to complete Datura.

Datura can be played using the Dualshock 3, but it’s meant to be played using the PlayStation Move, as it’s more natural to mimic the hand’s movements. The entire game is played as this unattached floating hand, using realistic gestures to interact with the environment. It’s also meant to be played through to completion in one sitting in order to fully take in the experience.

But because the movements with the hand are done by making natural gestures with the Move, actual movement like walking and turning in place is frustratingly clunky. Visual cues are added in an attempt to simplify things, however, you still end up wasting too much time trying to get the game to do what you want it to. You do eventually get the hang of it, but by that time the game’s almost over. At least the second playthrough will be more fluid.

And play a second time you will. Each of the eight main events you encounter give you a choice—bad or good, represented by the insects or butterflies; or on your map by a black or a white circle. The choices you make effect the outcome, and therefore, how you interpret the experience.

Despite having this replayability, the two-hour length makes Datura a hard sell at $9.99. Still, I do recommend trying this unusual, unique psychological experience, if only to see what it’s all about and to try and figure out what I means to you—even if it is accompanied by overly frustrating, cumbersome controls.

Note: If you happen to own a Sony HMZ-T1 “wearable HDTV” headset and two PlayStation Move controllers, then Datura is a must-own. The combination of Datura, a PlayStation Move in one hand, and the other attached to the headset for precise head-tracking, creates a true virtual reality experience.

PlayStation LifeStyle’s Final Score

+\- What the fuck did I just play?

+ Unique, insane, beautiful, and thrilling.

– Controls get in the way of enjoyment.

7 out of 10