Posted on May 14, 2014 AT 10:01am
Phosfiend Systems’ FRACT OSC is a mysterious game. There’s no back story, no premise, and nary a guide to point you in the right direction towards whatever mysterious goal lies ahead. What it is, however, is an escape to a world that rarely any developer has tread upon.
FRACT OSC takes you on a journey to a world of crystal, as you tread through in order to uncover secrets and explore the mysterious terrain. As you travel through its shiny areas you’ll begin searching for clues and find ways to unlock certain sounds that can be used to create your own music. The more you uncover, the more creative you’ll be able to be when it comes time to hone in your auditory talents.
Since there’s no real guide in the game to show you what’s what or where you should head towards next the player will have to rely on their instincts in order to find the unlocked sounds. While there is a gateway to each of the three realms (along with a fourth that becomes visible after completing the other three) what you do in each of them is up to what you discover. That means you could be traversing through FRACT OSC for many hours without being able to figure out what you need to do. In most situations that can lead to problems, and I can envision certain types of gamers finding issue with this.
With that being said you have to applaud Phosfiend Systems for not going the paint-by-numbers route of creating a first-person experience. It helps, too, that the worlds you walk through are gorgeous and mystifying. While it cannot compete with something like, say, an Amazon-like terrain the world of FRACT OSC is very easy to be overtaken by. If they were able to adapt this for the Oculus Rift, then many players will probably spend their time moseying around the worlds just to relax.
Of course once you do start finding the puzzles then the real brain teasers can begin. In some areas you’ll have to move blocks to uncover laser bridges and open elevators that will take you to the next destination point. Others will have you using musical beats in order to unlock specific sounds that can be used to create your own music. As it’s all about guessing what goes where and which sound will ignite the next area you’ll probably spend a good chunk of time trying to solve these puzzles.
Once you do solve these puzzles, the reward will be given to you in the form of an interactive synthesizer, where you can create your own music and hone your skills as a composer. As you’ll be in control of each musical note that can be made it will take a lot of time for you to make one song, let alone an EP or album’s worth. However when you’ve finally molded the song you wanted you can then upload it to YouTube for everyone to listen to. It’s an incredibly cool feature that has let me discover many talented music makers, but also somewhat makes me self-conscious knowing that I’ll probably never compose something as vivid as these other players.
Playing on my Mac the game’s control scheme was very easy to figure out, simply using the AWSD to maneuver and my mouse to aim. As there is no real right-click button for a Mac (you can do a double-fingered click or something else along those lines) there was the option of using the E key in order to seek out the puzzles, which came in more handy than I could imagine. FRACT OSC is easy enough to just use a Trackpad instead of a mouse, as the game doesn’t force you to be incredibly quick on your feet like most first-person gaming experiences.
Unlocking all the sounds and beating FRACT OSC can take some time, especially since the game puts a huge emphasis on self-exploration. It took almost three hours alone just to unlock one section of music, meaning that you’ll be spending probably 9-10 hours trying to find everything. (There is a speed run time of 90 minutes captured somewhere online, but that’s only if you know exactly where everything is on a first go-around.) You are also given the option to unlock all the sounds after a bit of time with the game if you are in a creative rush, but I feel like that would take away part of the fun of what this title has to offer.
- Vivid worlds, unique puzzles
- Great soundtrack, create-your-own-music addition a plus
- Easy to control
- Finding puzzles can be very time-consuming
- Somewhat confusing to figure out where to go
FRACT OSC is a beautiful game, both visually and audibly. While some may find themselves unable to handle a game without a given task, those who embrace the idea of searching endlessly throughout a mystical world will indeed enjoy themselves to no end. Just be sure to take in your surroundings, and let yourself get lost in the world of FRACT OSC in order to fully appreciate it.
FINAL GRADE: 8.5 (out of ten)
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