Reviewed: June 10, 2005
Released: April 6, 2005
Survival horror games have been around for about a decade and yet no one had decided to use the teen horror movie setting as the basis for one, not until Obscure that is. Basically take teen characters from TV shows like Dawson's Creek and put them in a high school setting, add a scary storyline, mix in some messed up evil things and youíve got yourself a teen survival horror game.
Obscure takes place in a haunted high school where five teenage students must figure out whatís going on and stay alive. Throughout their long ordeal in the school they come across some truly disturbing creatures that will test all of your survival abilities.
For those of you familiar with the 3rd person survival horror genre I donít need to explain much. For those of you who arenít, this game is pretty fundamental. Basically you explore the school for clues to whatís going on. While doing so you encounter extremely disgusting and scary creatures that you must kill by using the power of light or any other weapons you have at your disposal (pistol, baseball batsÖ).
Light power is essentially anything like a flash light or sunlight which can be let into the school by breaking windows. Most all of the creatures plaguing the high school are allergic to the sun like Vampires, in other words, it kills them. For the most part you will want to save as much ammunition as you can because a flashlight or window isnít always as close as a good friend.
A good friend is always close by in Obscure where there are several characters that you can play as and several more that you'll find along your exploration. Throughout the game you are joined by one or more of these additional characters. You can command them to follow you, stay where they are, and help you. If donít want any help then you can go about things on your own, but nothing beats having a friend close by our side or just having an extra character to control in case you die.
The controls on the other hand arenít so great. After several hours of frustration Iíve come to the conclusion that although this game is playable with the keyboard alone, the investment of $20 for a PC controller is well worth it and one that will ďsave youĒ in the long run. Such is the curse of converting a console game to the PC.
Graphically speaking, Obscure is good, but no where near great. It features solid character design and animation, good level design, and a real-time black aura effect that will drive you mad while fighting off enemies.
The black aura effect is definitely the graphical highlight of the game. Itís done extremely well and in a way that somehow makes facing enemies feel more intense. For those of you who have never seen this done before an aura effect basically changes the way the environment looks. In Obscures case, the black aura effect quickly covers the area you are with a black/red combination lava like substance that moves and glows. Itís really neat to watch and something Iím surprised more games havenít used.
Sometimes sound can make or break a game and in this case it makes it. For those of you who plan on purchasing this game, make sure to buy a nice set of 5.1 speakers/sound card, itís worth it.
Everything about the sound is great, from the excellent although creepy background music to the subtle screams from afar are done to perfection. Each one adds to the eerie atmosphere which is a big part of the Obscure experience.
The voice acting is very solid overall. The voices fit the characters in the game well except for one white guy who sounds and acts like a brother from the hood. I swear the voice actor is a black guy voicing a white character and that just doesnít fit at all. Otherwise the voice acting is good if not a little corny at times.
Itís getting harder and harder to slam a good game for value when its starting price is $20. Obscure has no problems in this department because not only is it at a $40 games quality level, but it also has an entertaining cooperative feature that is nice when showing off the game to a friend.
Co-op modes have always been a favorite of mine because I love to play through games with friends. Obscure has a good cooperative mode, but nowhere near great. Itís entertaining for about an hour, maybe a little more. The problem is the lack of co-op puzzle requirements that force you and your partner to work together. Itís a difficult thing to do especially if it requires building a new version of the original to make this mode more enjoyable. Iím just impressed that itís offered and entertaining for a game that carries such a small price tag.
The price of admission also offers you a very entertaining and scary adventure through a totally messed up high school. This is a large school with tons of areas to explore and unique puzzles to solve. Have fun playing with a variety of characters as you try to figure out whatís going on at Leafmore High.
Obscure is the first teen survival horror game to date, and a game that is one of the creepiest on the market today and one that will keep you on the edge of your seat with itís great sound effects, solid graphics, amazing black aura effect, and some truly disturbing faceless creatures. Donít miss out on one of the best values in survival horror gaming and make sure to pick up a PC controller (or two for co-op) if you donít already have one.