|Blood, Language, Violence
| The Good
Simple yet fun
Large areas with lots of details
$20 price point
| The Bad
Doesn't do anything spectacular for the genre
Monsters look "meh"
Short and easy
One might say that the name Obscure is quite appropriate
for this game. Released under the name Mortifilia in
Europe, this teen horror flick send-up has proven to be a
bit difficult to locate if you don't have certain quality
resources in acquiring videogames. Patterned after the Resident
Evil model of survival horror games (pre-RE4),
Obscure is set in a dilapidated school with, of course,
a dark secret. Players will be in charge of five stereotypical
high school students (the brain, the slacker, the jock, etc.)
who must survive the monsters that are unleashed upon the
The core of the gameplay is your standard action/horror lot.
Players are given locations to enter, often with items to
pick up which will allow you access other places in the game.
There is the rare puzzle element every now and then, but none
of these elements are all that complicated or feel any bit
out of place. During gameplay, you'll have access to melee
weapons and guns. You'll also have access to flashlights,
which are a necessity as the enemies are susceptible to light.
By using tape, you can attach your flashlights to your guns
and use the Boost button to burn through the black fog that
the monsters cause. This is especially useful as larger monsters
are hard to hurt because the fog acts as a shield of sorts.
Also, if you can get to the windows, you can bust them out
to fill the room with light, which helps in riding some of
the smaller, more annoying monsters.
One of the more interesting aspects of Obscure is
the fact that throughout most of the game you will always
have two characters, kind of like playing a high school themed
buddy flick. This is useful in that everyone has a certain
ability that they're good at, like Stan's ability to quickly
pick locks. You can also switch back and forth, issue commands
or even give weapons and items back and forth between the
two. While having two characters at one time is not new (Resident
Evil Zero saw this and many other games have had you escorting
other characters), Obscure actually gives you the option
to have a friend join in. While this play mechanic doesn't
do anything spectacular and really doesn't get utilized in
the form of co-op puzzles, it does make the exploration a
bit more fun. Where this gameplay aspect falters, though, is that the game relies on static camera angles, which means that if you stray too far apart, one players will be left on screen. During the middle of a firefight, this can be quite suicidal. If there had been some sort of split-screen action, this would not have been an issue at all.
Visually, Obscure fares well. The gameworld is built
completely in polygons and shows a good bit of detail. While
there is noticeable loading between areas, most locations
have a decent size. While some of the visual effects may not
be over-the-top, the lighting gives a solid ambiance to the
fairly well-detailed world. Character models look a bit blocky
but tend to be animated pretty well. I think with some better
texture work, the character models would look vastly improved,
as the plain textures tend to make them feel pretty drab.
The facial features are actually not bad. Where the gameworld
and characters are done well, the enemy monsters don't fare
so well. I think this is by and large because they just aren't
well designed and look like rejects from a Parasite Eve
Audiowise, the works well enough. Voicework is pretty standard,
not unlike the hokey crap uttered in a teen horror flick.
For that purposed, the voicework does it's job well. Sound
effects and audio ambiance really do a good job at setting
the mood for the game as you play through. The music, outside
of the ridiculous use of Sum 41 in the intro of the
game, is nice without being outstanding. You won't get the
creepiness of a Resident Evil or dark twisted audio
of a Silent Hill, but it works all the same.
I can't really say that there's anything major to fault Obscure
with, outside of the fact that it never really tries to excel
at much in a genre that's struggling hard not to stagnate.
With the likes of Silent Hill 4
and Resident Evil 4 trying to add new elements to the
genre, Obscure feels like it's stuck about five years
in the past. For those who want a cheap horror fix for a weekend,
Obscure is sure to fit the bill. Just don't expect
anything outstanding and you might just enjoy yourself.