Obscure
Game Info
Platform(s)
Xbox, PS2
Publisher
DreamCatcher Interactive
Developer
Hydravision
Genre
Survival Horror
Official Website
ESRB Rating
Blood, Language, Violence
 
Grade
The Good

• Co-op gameplay
• 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

 
Grade
B-

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 school.

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 game.

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.

- - Kinderfeld

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