FRACT OSC Review

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You take the strange elevator before you and find yourself in the center of some structure. Three paths are presented in front of you. There’s no markings, nothing to indicate what you should be doing. Just ominous columns surrounding you, strangely colored mountains and valleys formed at hard angles spread in all directions. Whether you are meant to be in the mind or a metaphorical representation of something electronic, this strange landscape appears to be some sort of computer.

This structure is empty. Devoid of life. On the outskirts you find a small construct. Inside appears to be some sort of holographic map. It seems like you’ve activated some sort of hub, but to what you don’t know. You can see related nodes, but nothing is active. The only thing you have to do is take one of those three paths. Maybe there will be something there, something to indicate what this place is. What you’re supposed to do. What is there is yet another foreign structure, but something’s different. The world is changing. Each soundless step you take across the geometric shapes that defines the landscape brings you closer to this much more defined area.

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FRACT OSC (PC [Reviewed], Mac)
Developer: Phosfiend Systems
Publisher: Phosfiend Systems
Released: April 22, 2014
MSRP: $14.99

Buildings emerge. Long empty monuments to something unknown. There is shape to this world, some reason for it to be here. As you walk, small pink lights bloom like flowers from the ground and slide upward and out of view as you pass. The low hum that fills the world continues to loom. It pushes you forward, just asking to be changed, altered. The path you stumbled across has led you to some sort of glowing platform. When you step on it up and down arrows illuminate. There’s no time like the present, so you try your luck and press up. The glowing outline you found yourself standing in suddenly flies upward and whisks you away.

The pad has taken you outside a strange door made up of hexagons. As you approach they retract, allowing you passage beyond. Nearby is another construct. This time when its wall retract to allow you entrance, a bright green beam of light thrusts itself skyward. One of the green globes in the hologram glows to life. It seems that you’ve found the transport network for whatever this place is you’ve stumbled across. As of now there is nowhere to go but back, so you leave the construct, determined to investigate this strange new structure nearby. This structure seems to have controls that you can manipulate.

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The colors have shifted here. What was a world of greys and muted purples and blues have taken on harsh greenish highlights. Directly in front of you is an archway guarding a platform with a dial on it. Curious, you turn it and find the platform turning with it. At the top of, what you discover is a column of platforms, is a sort of cone shaped receptacle and arrow pointing in a different direction. A little play with the dial reveals that when you align the cone with the arch a bright green beam shoots into it and out the arrow. It’s powering something. The platform branches to the next column on the right.

This whole structure appears to be some sort of giant machine and you possess the power to turn it on. So that’s what you do. You spend some time turning dials and carrying yourself across this open space. That’s not to say it’s easy. A few of the platforms require you to think first about navigating them before you worry about powering the next. After some thought, experimentation, and a few falls you successfully bring power from the starting archway to the newly discovered ending. This ending archway leads to ramp alight with green pieces, leading further onward.

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You ascend the ramp. To you right the formerly lifeless structure is It appears this structure isn’t done with you. As you crest the top a grey console comes into view. It’s simpler than before. There aren’t any moving platforms, just a simple step sequencer. Beyond, suspended midair, are several nodes. You put in a few steps on the sequencer and notice the beat marker. As it passes over the steps the nodes start powering up. Each row controls a different node, each of which power up at differing speeds. You experiment, adding and removing steps to try and allow the nodes to power up.

Each time the beat passes over a step you place, everything fills a hum unlike anything you’ve heard. It’s building to something, you can feel it. The nodes power up and emit a dazzling green beam into a sphere that fills and explodes with light. The structure has been powered up and greets you with the simply but steady notes you’ve created. For now, you simply take in the music and enjoy your accomplishment, but you will do so much more.

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When you eventually reach the next construct outside its corresponding structure, you’ll find that the globe you activated has lit up. If you were to select it, and you will use some of these constructs to travel, you would be whisked back to that location through a series of rings around the environment. You’ll use it for speed, but every once in a while you’ll use it to see. See the beautiful vistas of this digital world. Each corner seem beautifully hand crafted. While you’re doing that, you’ll start to notice something.

Each section of the world you visit has these strange monuments. They remind you of something, clues you remember gathering in another time and world. Something that had to do with a little man and his cute red hat. You’ll take note of them, hoping they’ll be of use later. They will be, but you won’t know that until you’ve activated each structure. Each section of the world has a hub, which connect to the main structure. When you saw them you thought they were useless, but you’ll find another set of puzzles that harnesses the clues throughout the world.

You’ll solve it and activate the central structure. In it you’ll find a final puzzle and as you solve it the world will go mad. Lights will throb to the beat and everything will become a beautiful musical trance. This world that you’ve descending to will lift you back up. The cold lifeless room you started in now has power. The world you’ve explored was inside a sequencer, and you’ve given it life. If you would like, you can try to create something beautiful, perhaps inspired by the world you visited. If not you’ve just experienced something new, something different.

This world and the time you’ve spent there are a memory that sticks with you. Sure, maybe you wandered a little, not knowing where to go. But there was always something new, something entrancing around the corner. You’ve seen music turned into an experience before, but nothing like this. This was a world born of a genre of music. Its beat rhythmically thumps in the heart of this place. You’ll know this won’t be a trip for everyone. Sometime people want more structure in their experiences. But for those who can enjoy discovery and intuition, you’ll always recommend that they find a way to find the world of FRACT OSC.

Rating Banner 4-5