Reviewed: May 29, 2008
Released: March 25, 2008
ObsCure, upon its release in April of 2005, was one of the most interesting survival horror titles that I had ever gotten my hands on at the time. Condemned was still a ways off and up until that point I was content with the Resident Evil and Silent Hill series. Unlike the RE and SH series, ObsCure offered something new, the ability to allow a friend to join in on the scare.
It is now three years, and two years later in the ObsCure timeline that we are presented with the newest chapter in teenage terror, Obscure: The Aftermath for the Nintendo Wii. Three of the surviving members of the original ObsCure now in college return in this new adventure.
You play as Kenny, Shannon and Stan as you start anew at Fallcreek University. Well at least Kenny and Shannon continued onto college. Stan dropped out of school and became a pizza delivery dude. Along for the ride is Amy and her jock boyfriend Sven, Corey and his girlfriend Mei, and her twin sister Jun. Oh and the professor named Richard, who conveniently is an expert in the field of biology.
Okay for those of you that played the first ObsCure, or more likely those not still hooked on RE 4 that released earlier that year and completely missed out on that one, The gameplay is pretty much identical to the last one. The same camera system and gameplay style, just different controls. ObsCure: The Aftermath is also released on the PS2 with more conventional controls, but I’m not here to discuss the PS2 version.
The HUD of very simply and quickly fades off the screen when you are not engaged in combat or doing various feats. If you press the “1” button you will open the inventory screen. Here you can assign weapons to your current characters and view documents that you gather along you way. The “2” button is used for pausing/quitting and if a second player wishes to join in then it is used to add them.
One of the cool things about ObsCure: The Aftermath is that each playable character has their own unique ability... to an extent. The only two characters that are remotely the same are Sven and Kenny as they can both move big heavy objects. The other abilities vary from Stan’s lock picking skills to Shannon’s wicked ability to control and absorb black auras.
If you played the first ObsCure, then you will remember that it was not necessary to use a specific character to do certain jobs. Even though Stan is the *cough* man at picking locks, Josh could do it taking a few for seconds to do the task than Stan would. This time around in ObsCure: The Aftermath certain tasks can only be performed by their respected characters. This is a double edged sword in terms of gameplay sometimes.
I say this because the title gives you no indication of who you are going to need out of the 6 main characters to progress. For example if you take Mei and Corey with you and end up at an obstacle far away from the “safe room” only to realize that you need Kenny instead of Mei, then you have to either backtrack to the group or load up a save file that is hopefully not going to set you back 20 minutes.
While I am bringing up Save Points, I will say that I was surprised to see that the proverbial disc/ribbon save feature was nixed all together and replaced with black flowers that are affixed to walls. You simply touch the flower and you save your progress. However each flower can only be used once.
Besides the single player mode, the Co-op mode returns in this new installment. I’m a big fan of Co-op modes in general and that reason alone was probably my biggest reason for playing the first ObsCure, that and I like scary titles. Well, this second installment didn’t disappoint me in the slightest.
I really liked the single player mode, but it really was more fun with another person behind the controls of the second character. Not that the AI is retarded or anything, I just think experiences like this should be shared with others.
There are even instances where having two players is actually more beneficial. A perfect example would be when I had to get Jun through a maze of corridors to unlock a door and operate the cameras at the same time. Doing it alone you had to switch back and forth between the camera focusing controls and Jun. This was a royal pain in the butt especially when baddies appeared while you were adjusting the focus. If you play with two people, Player 1 moves Jun while Player 2 constantly focuses the camera.
I also liked the fact that you could use items pretty much on the fly. There are no menus to open. The only time you need to open a menu it to assign weapons to your current characters. Your weapons are conveniently mapped to the D-Pad for quick changing. You can also use items like keys, Med Kits by holding down the “C” button on the Wii Nunchuk and scrolling through your inventory with the D-Pad. Both players are able to do this, when playing with a friend and can prove quite useful in certain situations.
While there is a lot of good to say about ObsCure: The Aftermath, there unfortunately is the bad to cover too. One of the biggest flaws to any survival horror is the camera system, and this title is no exception. There are a few clever camera tricks throughout the title and those are a welcome touch. However the camera angels often work against you and that sometimes can result in your horrifying death.
A perfect example of this is when you are fighting certain bosses. If you are playing with two players it is even worse. The camera generally follows the first player so a lot of times the AI or second player is trapped off screen and can’t see what the heck they are doing. You have to quickly change the camera focus to the other character to get them free and back in the game. This can cost you valuable time in say boss fights.
When I loaded this title up with a friend and we got into certain narrow passages or a boss room, the monster(s) would inevitable get in-between both characters. The first player could see what was going on but the second was trapped on the other side. If you are using melee weapons then this is not much of an issue, but it is almost impossible if the second player is using a firearm.
The second issue that I have with this title is the controls. You utilize both the Wii-mote and Nunchuk for this adventure. The Analog Stick moves your character while you use the Wii-mote to look around. While that part of the gameplay is fine, the aiming system could use some work. To use melee and ranged weapons you have to first press and hold the “Z” button to go into combat mode. You use melee attacks by equipping a bat or like object and swing the Wii-mote around. The cool thing though is that the Wii-mote is motion sensitive. If you swing vertically, so will the character.
However to use a ranged weapon you much hold “Z” and then fire with the “B” button. You can do damage this way but if you want to make sure you are actually hitting your targets you need to employ the “A” button. By holding “Z”, aiming at a creature, holding “A” to lock on to them and finally pressing “B” to fire. This seems like an awful lot of work to shot somebody, but it does keep the baddies at bay. The Wii-mote is just too sensitive sometimes for its own good and sometimes pressing “A” will not always lock on to the baddies.
Okay graphically, ObsCure: The Aftermath is pretty decent. The character models are well done, though you will probably not be able to tell since most of the adventure is done in almost near pitch darkness. But the darkness is probably this titles saving grace. The atmospherically creepy darkness is what keeps you in a constant sense of unease. The creep factor is not as high as what is seen in Condemned 2, but it’s still creepy.
I also liked the use of the black aura effects that were used. A lot of times you will come across creatures that were shrouded with the aura in real time and some exits were blocked by it. I also particular the way Dryads just faded to black vapor after you dispatched them. Annoying little buggers.
And finally I have to talk about the blood. A horror survival title just isn’t complete without some blood and gore. This title does deserve every bit if it’s M Rating. It’s not as bad as some of the visuals seen in Condemned 2 but there are a few moments that are a little unnerving. One such scene is where you find a girl’s corpse with her lower jaw ripped off. It’s even creepier as it is the first thing you see camera wise in the room. All I can say is that they did a great job here for a Wii title.
The sound department of ObsCure: The Aftermath is by far my favorite thing about this title. The wonderfully creepy soundtrack gives this title the creepy feel it needs to be a successful survival horror. The soundtrack is composer by Olivier Deriviere, the man responsible for the original ObsCure’s sound.
The creature noises are well done and aided heavily by Deriviere’s score. The maniacal little cackle that the Dryads make is just wicked. Also for those of us that care about the soundtracks to games you can find the soundtracks to both ObsCure’s here at his website free of charge to download.
While the sound department is without a doubt the highlight of this title, it is hindered by the voice acting. The voice acting is just bad, really bad actually. However I will give the developers the benefit of the doubt and say that it was probably done intentionally. I say this because; to me the ObsCure series has been homage of sorts to all of the teenage horror movies, like Scream or Friday the 13th.
ObsCure: The Aftermath is pretty much going to be a one play through for most people. There really is no reason to play this title again unless, you are looking for a good survival horror to play with a friend later on down the road. Personally I will probably end up playing this one again soon. The single player mode is cool, but it is so much cooler to play with a friend. This version retails for $30, which puts it at a higher price range than its PS2 counterpart.
At the end of this reviewer’s fun and albeit frustrating adventure, I rather liked ObsCure: The Aftermath. The title is by no means perfect and suffers from several of the trappings of survival horrors especially the camera angles. Firing ranges weapons is awkward at times due to the sensitivity of the Wii-remote and the locking system that sometimes fails.
I did love the soundtrack and the overall feel of this title and I severely liked the ability to play with a friend. The sense of danger that ObsCure: The Aftermath emits is due to several factors. Some of those reasons include med kits that are often scarce and ammo that is always on the verge of running out. And to top it off a soundtrack that is just awesomely creepy.
I recommend this title for those seeking a good co-op title for the Wii that doesn’t involve two plumbers. If you’re still not sure on whether or not to pick this title up, then I would hold off until it drops to the $20 dollar mark. But for fans of the original ObsCure then, I definitely recommend picking up this title.