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Review by: Jim Brumbaugh
Brain teasers galore make up the bulk of Obsidian from SegaSoft Incorporated. A bright, orange sticker affixed to the front of the neon green colored box claims that this game does “…everything Myst did, only much better.” Quite a claim, and quite a standard against which to be measured.
The plot of Obsidian is based upon the often-proclaimed fears of good liberals everywhere. The year is 2066, and the pollution and neglect heaped upon the world (in particular, by the evil United States) have brought our planet to the brink of destruction. The greenhouse effect has been allowed to grow unchecked, fueled by greedy corporations and the excesses of the 20th century. To combat this ecological nightmare, the Ceres Project was created; a satellite which orbits the earth, capable of detecting the areas of the atmosphere which need attention the most and releasing nanobots capable of repairing the damage.
After 100 days of uninterrupted, perfect operation, the two Ceres Project team leaders decide to take a vacation. As the player, you assume the role of biochemical engineer Lilah Kerlin, and your partner in the Ceres project is biochemical engineer Max Powers. As the game begins, you enter your campsite only to find that your partner, Max, has vanished. After reviewing some data files regarding the project stored on a personal journal, you proceed to the living, growing rock formation that the game is named after. As you peer at Lilah’s reflection, a face of the rock shatters and the player is sucked inside the Obsidian.
After making it through the liberal pap, the player is presented with five different realms to explore, the purpose being to find Max and solve the riddle of the growing rock. Thankfully, the setup for the plot line does not enter into any of the puzzle-solving problems (at least, not until the very end – but I can’t give that away). In each realm, you must solve riddles and puzzles in a (mostly) pre-determined sequence, in order to advance to the next puzzle or level.
In the first realm, The Bureau, the player is exposed to the anticipated bureaucracy of the 21st century. The Bureau Chief wants Lilah to visit with him, but the bridge which will get her to his office gets stuck. By following “proper channels,” Lilah is asked to figure out how to fix the bridge and get to the Chief’s office. At that point, the player must solve anagrams, orientation puzzles and other mind twisters to accomplish this mission. The second set of challenges takes place in the Spider realm, in which it is the player’s job to figure out how to activate the giant spider in the center of the factory complex. In the Bismuth realm, let’s just say that you get to know the Ceres Project in a very “up close and personal” fashion. Finally, the Conductor realm contains the final showdown in the game. In this realm, the player will actually get to choose from more than one possible ending.
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