Obscure: Scary For Sure!
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.
An Obscure Journey
May 25, 2007 – Horror movies can invoke varied feelings in an audience – more so than any other film genre. They can remind you that the night is not the safest time of day. They can also remind you what it was like when you where young when you discovered your fear of clowns. However, probably the most unexpected reaction that a horror films can cause is gleeful laughing. This type of horror film is usually reserved for the days you want to see a lot of bloody gore and laugh at it at the same time. If you are a fan of Bruce Campbell and have seen the Evil Dead movies, then you know exactly what I talking about. These movies are lovingly sub-genred as B-horror films. Whenever there is a new one coming, you know what to expect before it happens and enjoy every minute of it.
The same can be said about video games. We have our strictly creepy survival horror games like Silent Hill and Resident Evil and then we have our laugh-out-loud horror games. The first example to spring to mind is Splatterhouse, followed by Obscure. Now we have a sequel to the Obscure set to premier later this year on your television screen, and we can guarantee that our favorite teen slasher flick requirements will be saturated in the blood of our would be heroes.
The students of Fallcreek University have discovered a new potent hallucinogenic in a mysterious flower that they crush up and stick up their nostrils. However, the things they see, mutilated corpses and things that make the night extra “bumpy,” are not exactly what most people would expect from a mind-bending trip. Apparently, the kids of Fallcreek never watch Return of the Living Dead. The lesson in that film – do not do stupid things that others are doing just because. The mysterious flower gives us the first of the required B-horror film elements for classic entertainment gold. Slowly, but surely the hallucinations start to become reality and the game sends us gallivanting through hospitals and sewers to reach safety.
There will be a few features that will return from the first title. For example, and probably the most appealing, the co-operative gameplay. The first game made it very simple for your buddies to jump in and out whenever, thanks in large part to the story of the first actually containing several chapters that told the story of two characters. However, this time around the system has been tweaked slightly. There will actually be more emphasis on tag teaming the abominations of the flesh. Each of our characters will have their own unique abilities to aide and assist the situations at hand. Corey, the messy-haired skater, dabbles in the magical art of what the hilariously inept translation describes as “Acrobacy.” That is, clambering onto ledges and shimmying across improbable gaps to you and me. Not only can he scurry to out-of-reach places, he can help his less acrobatic-inclined comrades out of trouble too with a lift up. Elsewhere, Mei is such a stupendously good hacker, security systems crumble at her touch – usually by solving anagrams. Then there is muscle bound heartthrob of the first installment, Kenny, who is so strong he can push heavy objects, and “genuine blonde and Miss Wet T-shirt” Amy, who specializes in decrypting. With Amy, we have the over-the-top sexuality that is present in B-horror films. Therefore, that is the second element that ensures an instant classic.
So as to not just have the ability of other playable characters limited solely to the co-op play modes, there will be several points in the game that a situation will require the use of another character’s ability to get past. The simplicity of just the touch of a button and the fact that there probably won’t be a situation that you will be scratching your head over trying to figure out who needs to do what are just two of the joys of the different character involvement sections. In fact, more often than not, certain characters will say something to the affect of, “This should be handled by ______.” Thank you Hydravision for keeping it simple and ensuring that the third part needed to make it a classic B-horror classic is present.
Will Obscure: The Aftermath make us be on the edge of our seats like other survival horror games? Probably not, but it does appear that it will keep us in the trenches of splatter-fests we all know and love. It has all of the elements of a classic just waiting to unfold in front of our horror deprived eyes. I, for one, cannot wait. We will have more on Obscure: The Aftermath as more obscure details materialize.