|System: Wii, PC, PS2||Review Rating Legend|
|Dev: Hydravision||1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid||4.0 - 4.4 = Great|
|Pub: Ignition Entertainment||2.0 - 2.4 = Poor||4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy|
|Release: March 25, 2008||2.5 - 2.9 = Average||5.0 = The Best|
|Players: 1-2||3.0 - 3.4 = Fair|
|ESRB Rating: Mature||3.5 - 3.9 = Good|
by Jonathan Marx
February 29, 2008 - I got a chance to sit down for a couple of hours with the horror title Obscure: The Aftermath from Ignition Entertainment and Hydravision. The game is full of wonderful horror film clichés and very dark and immersive environments that definitely call the hairs on the back of your neck to attention. Unlike many survival horror titles, Obscure: The Aftermath feels more like an adventure/mystery. The game is full of interesting puzzles, and working in tandem with either an A.I. partner or a friend makes for very interesting gameplay.
The original game, Obscure, followed the maniacal exploits of one Herbert Friedman, the principal of Leafmore High. In that game, it was up to a group of students to return the corrupted halls of their school to normal by slaying their evil headmaster and his biological experiments. This is the sequel to Obscure and picks up the story at Fallcreek College. The fictional university is home to red blooded American kids looking for a good time and maybe an education along the way. The halls of the coed dorms are laden with sexual overtones, and the urge to party with friends rules the day. The initial five to ten minutes of the game looks to be over-the-top, but it does a really good job of setting the tone and establishing the game as if it were pulled directly from the pages of your favorite slasher film's script.
You'll meet a number of the playable characters in the opening sequences and then be quickly whisked away to a hellish graveyard. This is due to the hallucinogenic effects of a black flower found recently about campus. The mysterious black aura emitting flowers prove to be vital throughout the game, and you will have to solve their mystery if you hope to survive their wrath.
Gameplay consists of a lot of puzzle solving and monster killing; a pretty darn good combo I'd say. You'll be in control of two students at a time for each sequence. Each of the playable characters has specific abilities that make them more or less useful depending on the situation and the obstacles presented. The puzzles will require you to move objects, hack into security systems, climb acrobatically, pick locks, and even decode obscure ciphers. In order to be successful, you'll switch back and forth between team members in order to utilize their specific skills. The puzzles are very smart, do a good job of breaking up the horror sequences, and lend greater depth to the game.
Of course, what would a game in the horror genre be without the requisite disgusting baddies intent on your demise. Obscure: The Aftermath is full of them, and they're all gross and inventive. You'll be able to kill these creatures with bats, golf clubs, hockey sticks, pistols, shotguns, chainsaws, etc. Thankfully, you won't have to go it alone. Being teamed up with a partner means you won't have to shoulder the entire burden. It looks like the friendly A.I. does a good job of helping you keep the monsters at bay and getting out of the way before taking too much damage. If you don't want to play alone because you're a bit wimpy, you can always play Obscure: The Aftermath with a partner. One of the great features of this title's co-op play is that a second player can drop in at any time. It doesn't matter how far along you are in the story.
There won't be any online play, but the co-op aspect should suffice. The overall presentation looks to be very solid, though we never judge that till we see the final copy. However, the soundtrack is especially good considering it is performed by the Boston String Quartet and the Paris Opera Children's Choir. Preliminarily, it does seem as though the setting established by the visuals and the sounds will be very haunting and scary. In other words, I don't foresee any production issues. Controls are also very easy to use and should allow any horror buff to pick up and play this game regardless of technical gaming skill.
I'm excited to say that Obscure: The Aftermath looks like it's shaping up to be quite a good game. We'll be anxiously awaiting review copies for not only the PS2, but also for the PC and the Wii. We'll give you the entire lowdown in a few weeks when the game becomes available on the three systems. Until then know that a puzzle-laden horror title is in its final development stages and will be available for exploration in just a few short weeks.
CCC Lead Contributor / News Director