Datura stramonium, also known as moonflower and Angel’s trumpet is a genus of flowering weeds in the Solanaceae family of plants. This family also includes Tomatoes, Mandrake, Potatoes, and Tobacco. While it’s used to treat Asthma and nausea symptoms, it can be very harmful at larger doses, causing delirium, photophobia, amnesia, and even death. For this reason, it’s known by another name: The Devil’s Weed. Shockingly enough, unlike marijuana, it’s not illegal. You can grow it, cultivate, and even use it. However, only a complete moron would do so.
So why am I telling you this? Because apparently you have to be high as shit in order to play Sony’s 2012 PS Move title, and even then it still won’t make any sense.
Published by Sony Santa Monica and developed by Plastic Studios (Linger in Shadows), Datura can best be described as a bad drug trip I guess. I suppose this would mean that bad drug trips have shitty and frustrating play controls. Very little details are given about the plot save that the game starts with you in the back of an ambulance, ripping off the sheet and flat-lining. Then you end up in some forest, and you have to explore, interacting with things with the use of a disembodied hand. Unfortunately the character moves at an extremely slow pace. Worse, the game was designed with the Playstation 3 Move controller in mind. If you’re stuck with the sixaxis, it will be damn near impossible to do some of the motions you are expected to do. Even worse, it’s tough to figure out what you’re supposed to do, because other than the occasional control prompt, the game gives you no clue in order to progress. For instance, I arrive at a statue of a woman, and a prompt appears to press triangle. After that, I was on my own, as the disembodied hand is fondling up and down the statue. What am I supposed to do? Grope it? The game gives you no clue.
Once you do figure out your way, things just don’t make any fucking sense. Apparently the forest is some kind of ‘hub world’ and your goal is to gain spiritual guidance or some shit. I couldn’t figure the damn thing out, so in all honesty, I played what I could and looked up the rest online. For instance, the first hallucination/flashback I went to involved using an icepick to break the ice to either free a trapped girl or a trophy. As I hacked through, I ended up drowning anyway, shunted back to the forest. Another task has players throwing potatoes at a pig. I didn’t get this far though, I simply got frustrated with the controls and decided to play some Injustice instead.
According to online reviews, the game is short and can be completed in less than an hour (minus the time spent figuring the controls) and the ending is almost a non-ending of sorts, so I didn’t miss a whole lot. I mean seriously, this is how the game ends! I like ‘abstract’ independent games as much as anyone. I found Braid’s premise intriguing, I enjoyed The Path, and I loved Proteus. However, those are three games in which the ambiguity is an asset rather than a hindrance. In Braid and The Path, the game gives you enough info so that you can draw your own conclusions, and Proteus makes it clear that there is no real point to the game besides exploration. Datura just strings together a bunch of set pieces with no point and ends it abruptly. That’s not ambiguity, that’s just being lazy. I got Datura for $2.50 after a discount and it isn’t even worth that. If you want an ‘artsy’ game experience, grab The Unfinished Swan or something.