In terms of the sumptuous graphics and awesome backing soundtrack, Obduction truly is -- as folks claim -- the spiritual descendant to Myst and Riven.
OMG. My mind is in overload mode. On the standard brain-boggling scale of 1 to 10 (as defined by the American Medical Association), my brain has been boggled to at least an 11 (quite possibly a 12).
In my earlier column -- I'm on the Brink of Being Obducted; Farewell... -- I explained that, when I set about building my virtual reality (VR) workstation, I only ever intended to use it to drive my Oculus Rift virtual reality headset.
Based on this, the beast has a honking processor (a 6th generation quad-core, hyper-threaded, water-cooled Intel Core i7 processor running at 4GHz with 16GB of RAM) and a super-honking graphics card (an Nvidia GeForce GTX 1070 with 8GB of GDDR5 memory), but I didn't bother equipping it with speakers and I slapped on the smallest and cheapest monitor upon which I could lay my hands.
Small sad monitor and no speakers (Source: Max Maxfield)
Oh, the foolishness of youth.
The problem is that the VR release of Obduction has been delayed. All I have is the 2D version for the PC. Of course I immediately loaded this onto my VR workstation, but -- apart from making sure it worked -- I didn't bother exploring further because I didn't want to waste the awesome experience I've been longing for on a titchy monitor without sound.
I'm an impatient man. Goodness knows how long it will take for the VR version to arrive. I simply couldn't take the strain. Based on a recommendation from my chum Daniel at GigaParts, I ordered a pair of Creative Reference Multimedia Monitors from Amazon. Yesterday, I dropped into GigaParts and -- based, once again, on a recommendation from Daniel -- picked up an Acer 34" UltraWide curved monitor with an aspect ratio of 21:9.
Eye-popping curved monitor with scrumptious speakers
(Source: Max Maxfield)
As an aside, the size of a computer monitor screen is specified as the diagonal of the viewing area. This isn't a problem with traditional flat screens, but what about curved screens? Do they measure the distance from curved corner to curved corner "as the photon flies," or do they conceptually flatten the screen and measure the distance from flat corner to flat corner? Can you cast light on this conundrum? But we digress...
The speakers just arrived (I find it amazing that you can order something on Amazon on Tuesday and have it delivered with free shipping on Thursday). As soon as they appeared, my chum Ivan in the next bay joined me in connecting everything up.
At first the speakers appeared to sound a tad "tinny." Well, it really wasn't that bad, but it certainly wasn't the meaty sound I had been hoping for. But then we realized that the sound we were hearing was coming out of the monitor's internal speakers -- the Creative Reference Multimedia Monitors were as quite as church mice.
We spent some time dorking around checking that we'd connected the power cable, that we'd plugged the speakers into the correct port on the motherboard, and that the On/Off Volume control knob on the front was activated -- all to no avail. Eventually we were reduced to the indignity of looking at the manual. Thank goodness for pictures, is all I can say, because there was a jolly nice one showing the back of the speakers with a call-out pointing to the main On/Off power switch (wipe that silly grin off your face, this sort of thing can happen to the best of us).
The UltraWide display can support resolutions up to 3440 x 1440 (I can't even count that high). I must admit to having a nagging fear that we'd end up with Obduction occupying only a small area in the middle of the screen, but -- happily -- there was nothing to worry about. When we first launched the game, the title screen appeared "stretched" and awkward, but that was because the application was using its native mode. We went into the graphic settings and clicked through the options until -- hallelujah -- we found 3440 x 1440. Next we went into the various graphics and audio settings and selected the highest quality going. Then we entered the Obduction universe...
So just how good is Obduction? Words fail me (and it's not often that you'll hear me say that). You cannot believe the loving detail that has been crafted into this game. As you're exploring you notice incredibly realistic clouds slowly traversing the sky and the grasses and trees moving gently in the breeze, including the shadows of the trees moving on the rocks (you can even see your own shadow on the floor as you wander around). The camp fire at the beginning looks as realistic as I've seen, and the quality of the water effects defy description.
I'm afraid that's as far as I've got. I haven't even approached the cottage that's the first thing you're supposed to head for because I've been having too much fun walking along the railway tracks exploring the surrounding landscape (I discovered a small graveyard that I don't think I would have seen from the cottage).
In terms of graphics and backing soundtrack, Obduction truly is -- as folks claim -- the spiritual descendant to Myst and Riven. I can't speak to the quality of the puzzles yet, but I have every confidence that they will be tortuously tricky and bodaciously baffling. If you visit the Obduction page on Steam, you'll see that the user reviews are "Very Positive" (which is high-praise indeed).
Yesterday evening I spent quite a lot of time browsing the user comments on Steam's Obduction page where they end up giving the game a rating out of 10 (e.g., "9/10"). Some of these comments were pages long, but the one that summed everything up in a nutshell was short, sharp, and sweet, reading as follows: "Don't know what to do... 10/10".
All I can say is that if the 2D version of the game is this good, I daren't even imagine what it will be like to experience in virtual reality. I. Can. Not. Wait.
— Max Maxfield, Editor of All Things Fun & Interesting