What are you doing aftermath?
Where did it all begin? The original game, Obscure, is a European release. It was pretty darn good but never reached blockbuster status. It begs, borrows, and steals from the current teenage horror movie genre which sees a group of acquaintances get slowly whittled down through various nefarious means. These movies tend to favor graphic violence over sophisticated suspense. Believe it or not, even the Texas Chainsaw Massacre was not as graphic as some of the shows that are on TV now. And while there are some gross scenes in Obscure and its sequel, The Aftermath, the effects are not as frightening as they could be if they were more well-crafted into the plot.
Incorporating elements such as horror survival, puzzle solving, action, combat, and numerous playable characters with different abilities, Obscure: The Aftermath gives us plenty of gameplay diversion and a great deal of fun. It’s not a very long or memorable game, but it definitely has a vibe that will keep you interested. Taking place a few years after the original, in which a series of teens gets killed one by one, The Aftermath stars the group of survivors now entering college. Like a lot of young adults, they enjoy their sex, drugs, and rock and roll. After experimenting with mysterious black hallucinogenic flowers that cause strange LSD-like trips, horrifying visions soon become real. A group of teens are forced to confront these monstrosities in a variety of familiar locations including the hallways of various institutions such as a hospital, school, and college campus.
Obscure: The Aftermath doesn’t take itself too seriously. As a result it’s not as terrifying as it could be. It’s as though the developers lacked the confidence in their ability to make this really creepy and decided they would lose “less face” if they were self-deprecating. You can see this in the way the game almost lampoons the very genre it’s attempting to emulate. You’ll see a tip of the hat to the abovementioned Texas Chainsaw Massacre. There isn’t much of a storyline or plot, just a series of things that happen that require your immediate attention.
Even when all is discovered and revealed, it’s not very satisfying as very little is actually “wrapped up.” Having said that, the storyline isn’t at all important to the gameplay, but it would have been an added bonus that would have made the game much more memorable. As it is, we don’t really develop a relationship with the characters. They are reduced to typical movie freshman stereotypes. The voiceover work does little to endear us to these kids as they sound like they couldn’t be bothered to practice reading their lines.
In RPG fashion, each of the six characters displays different characteristics that correspond to the challenges presented in the gameplay. You’ll use different characters to perform specific functions that range from breaking codes to breaking down doors, in addition to skillful acrobatic moves and lock picking. During your sojourns through the various stages, you will have control over two characters at one time. This lends itself perfectly to the two-player co-op mode which, in my opinion, is the highlight of the game. It’s nice to have two characters doing something onscreen as opposed to having the un-played A.I. character stand around and do nothing. But at least that unplayed character doesn’t get in the way, and you can toggle between each of them quickly and easily.
The teamwork element is very satisfying. Another player can join in at anytime and assume control of one of the characters midstream. They work well together mechanically even though they both share the same camera perspective. The camera will highlight the character that is performing the main action, but still allows the secondary character the ability to move around and perform other activities such as exploring or defending themselves from attack. It’s not perfect, but it beats a split screen. In each stage, the rest of the cast will be located in a central area where you can swap them around for characters more suited to the upcoming challenges.
Overall the game is short and sweet. You can expect to get through it in a day or two with little problem. It’s linear, which tends to speed things up as opposed to having you get lost and waste time figuring out where to go. And speaking of filler, there isn’t a lot of backtracking, which also keeps things on an even pace. There could have been a better checkpoint system. They are few and far between. Weapons, ammo, and health are typically in good supply. The puzzles are not very taxing, but they are satisfying and actually relate to the concept of the game. The targeting system is tight and responsive, regardless of what weapon you may be yielding. It’s great to actually be able to fight the monsters and not the gameplay mechanics, but there are some collision detection problems which will frustrate you in some aspects. Once again, it’s not perfect.
This game isn’t a looker. It gets the job done. Function over form seems to be the developers’ mantra. Since the majority of the gameplay revolves around exploring and puzzle solving, the developers downplayed the ambience that would have undoubtedly plunged us into dreary darkness, making things difficult to see. Thankfully we aren’t forced to explore the environments through the limited radius of a flashlight. They are well lit and easy to navigate. The ambient soundtrack does a good job of maintaining the creepy vibe. Orchestral and gothic choir washes remind me of Alan Parson’s Tales of Mystery and Imagination. That’s a good thing in case you didn’t get the reference.
The Aftermath is not a great game, but it’s a good game. It’s not perfect, but it does offer some solid entertainment value despite some flaws.
RATING OUT OF 5 RATING DESCRIPTION 2.8 Graphics
Dated graphics. Get the job done. Relies more on music for ambience. 3.8 Control
Responsive and easy to use control system. Some collision detection issues. 4.0 Music / Sound FX / Voice Acting
The soundtrack is pure atmosphere. Very creepy. The voiceovers are flat and stiff. Amateur fare. 4.0 Play Value
Very enjoyable game with very little filler. Great co-op mode extends replayability. 3.5 Overall Rating – Good
Not an average. See Rating legend above for a final score breakdown.