An all-new, immersive adventure game from the award-winning creators of Myst and Riven.
I don’t normally harp on Kickstarters super hard, but this one means a whole lot to me. They only have 9 days left, and I’m deathly afraid they won’t make their funding.
So. Obduction. What the hell is it? Why should you care?
WAY BACK in 1992, two dudes in a garage went, “Hey you know how most games are kinda just shooty bullshit, or else really super obtuse adventure games with crowded interfaces? Let’s just make a game that’s relaxing and nice to look at, that you can explore organically as you please.”
This game came out in 1993, and it was called Myst.
Myst was a surprise best-seller. For a game that pretty much consists of wandering around an island staring at stuff and getting very frustrated about switches, it was surprisingly compelling, with a vast underlying backstory about the evils of imperialism, hubris, racism, betrayal, family, literature… lots of stuff. The game spawned six sequels, but unfortunately as time marched on, each one was less popular and well-received, primarily because gaming as a whole moved on, and partially because the third-party publishers handling Cyan’s work (Ubisoft, mostly) grossly mishandled the games. Not ALL The blame lies on Ubisoft; sometimes Cyan reached too far and tried to do too much, but in the end, they stopped publishing for a while.
But they did hold on, surviving on indie games. And now they’ve started a Kickstarter to bring us a new game in the spirit of Myst, in a brand-new universe.
TUMBLR! WHY SHOULD YOU, SPECIFICALLY, CARE?
Things Tumblr likes: books, indie games, narratives with strong women, narratives with non-Western cultural representation
Things Cyan Worlds has an amazing track record with: Those things.
The first Myst centered around the idea that books didn’t just metaphorically transport you to other worlds; they could do it literally. In both the game and the tie-in novels, there was a lot said about one’s responsibility towards the worlds you discover through your writing, about imperialism and respect for other cultures. Atrus had created portals to beautiful worlds, and his sons had run rampant through them.
Riven, the second game featured Katran (“Catherine”), a woman native to that world, and a robust and complex native culture. Though the goal of Riven is to rescue her, she’s by no means a damsel in distress. She’s the leader of a resistance group dedicated to overthrowing the evil Ghen, a dude who is basically the avatar of White Western Imperialism. Even from her cell she directs and organizes the resistance, and in fact, you’re only ‘rescuing’ her insofar as she arranges for you to be able to GET to her and let her out. And once you do? She immediately goes out and starts a goddamn revolution. In the backstory, she’s also living proof that Ghen is dead wrong about the idea that only the D’ni (his people, the ones who invented Linking Books) could write gates between worlds; not only can Katran do so, but her unique cultural perspective allows her to “break” rules that the D’ni held as holy. Did I mention she’s basically Fantasy Pacific Islander? Because she is.
Then there’s the D’ni, featured mostly in Uru: Ages Beyond Myst. So many fantasy stories just go for Western Europe as a base for their culture; the D’ni are culturally and aesthetically Middle Eastern. Their language is based on Arabic and Hebrew, and pretty much everything about their art and architecture harkens back to ancient cities of the Middle East. At the same time, their story is a complex one of hubris and tension between faith and fact, between imperialism and a desire to explore.
So: TL;DR — Cyan has a great track record for wonderful stories and fantastic characters that break the mold of what’s typical in video games. No square-jawed white savior space marines here.
Furthermore, Claire Hummel, the gal behind the Historical Disney Princesses, is doing the character design.
You want to talk about diverse character design in video games, about not doing the same Pretty Svelte White Girl In A Bikini And Square Jawed White Space Marine? Here’s the first two characters she’s released:
WOW! REALISTIC LOOKING PEOPLE. CHARACTERS WHO AREN’T WHITE, OR SUPERMODELS! PRACTICAL CLOTHING!
YEAH BUT WHAT IS OBDUCTION
It’s going to be a Myst-like adventure game set in SPACE. You are abducted by a mysterious force and taken across the galaxy to a mysterious planet. Your job will be to stare at pretty things, say “Wow!” and then go “THIS PUZZLE IS VERY FRUSTRATING, BUT AT LEAST IT IS NICE TO LOOK AT.” And then to take nine billion screenshots and roll around in a beautiful universe that isn’t Real Is Brown.
We don’t know much, it’s true. But given Cyan’s track record, I am dead positive whatever they make will be amazing.
Finally, unlike most companies doing random kickstarters meant to Challenge The Gaming Industry, Cyan’s actually DONE that before. They’ve DONE self-published, made-in-their-garage-on-no-budget games, they KNOW how to challenge the status quo. It’s basically what they DO, period.
Cyan is an amazing company and Obduction, if it’s funded, WILL be an amazing, evocative, beautiful game that does what Cyan does best—it will challenge the current state of video games with beauty and vision. PLEASE kick money to this game, even if it’s just a dollar.