Remember the good old highschool days when you had to fight your way past hordes of demonic beasts just to get out for lunch? Well, besides the teachers?! It might just be me, but I think highschool has changed over the years! Get ready for those devious teachers and some suspenseful moments in Dreamcatcher's Obscure.
Obscure is tale of five Leafmore Highschool students who embark on an adventure into the darkness of Leafmore's schools corridors. After two fellow students go missing, a few of their friends (and sister) set out as a search party and they abruptly find more then they expected. This is when the plot thickens and the mystery and demonic overtones start. The story doesn't make too much sense, and considering its borrowing its ideas for a subject matter from pop-culture teen movies it's not surprise. Why those kids would go to a run down school like that is beyond me. I think someone should give a stern talking to their parents. unless they are zoned in the occult projects.
The game mechanics are similar to other horror titles which have been surfacing as of late on the Xbox Console. Check out our recent review of Cold Fear from Ubisoft. Again you will be treated to the fixed camera premise and scripted events that will actually have you jumping out of your seat. The evil monsters have been doing their homework and will get the best of you a number of times. These beats come at you and can be defeated in two ways, one by attacking them with a weapon and shooting or beating them to a pulp. or just by giving them a little light. Shooting out a blocked window or using a flashlight is another alternative since the little buggers are photosensitive. At times the controls can become a little hectic, but that comes with the territory.
The best feature of Obscure is the ability to play the game with another player. Playing with someone can be allot of fun and it defiantly makes the game more interesting. It's a great feature that I'll explore more in the innovation section of the review. Obscure also has an inventive inventory system where you can combine items from your inventory. The first combination is the obvious Flashlight, Tape and Gun. Of course it's optional if you want to combine items, but it will only help. Damn, smart-aleck kids have one up'd that Marine from Id.
Obscure is an intense experience and you'll need your wits to make it through the game without panicking too much. Ammo, health and save cd's are fairly sparse, so you'll need to try and conserve as much as you can. It's best to take advantage of the characters special abilities maximizing your game time. Here is a rundown on each characters special ability. During the game I stuck with the team of Shannon and Josh, although I did switch it up a few times.
Shannon Matthews - With her first aid diploma, Shannon is able to efficiently heal her friends' wounds. She's also a very good student and her abilities allow her to quickly find solutions.
Kenny Matthews - Being such a good sportsman, Kenny has great physical strength, which allows him to run faster or hit harder than most of his mates.
Stanley Jones - Thanks to his quick wit, can see certain door or cupboard locks supposedly fragile. Standing next to them, Stanley picks them in no time, much quicker than anybody else.
Ashley Thompson - Ashley is an expert in Tae-Kwon-Do and is quite powerful. She is the only one double shooting with a fire weapon and has a remarkable bat swing.
Josh Carter - Josh, thanks to his journalist skills, can spot important objects quite easily every time he enters a room. He can also say if anything important is left in a room.
LEAFMORE CLASS OF MONSTER BASHERS
(Right to Left)
Teen horror is a resource that hasn't been tapped into too much from the video game site of entertainment. Sure there have been a few Buffy games, but it doesn't quite grab the atmosphere as satisfying as Obscure. Hopefully Obscure can find its hands into the right crowd because it provides fun experience from a different angle then most zombie horror games.
Graphics & Sound
Visual and Audio components are vital to horror video games and Obscure does a great job on both fronts. From the very start you will be treated to some smooth animation and some teen age rock from Canada 's own Sum 41. The in game action looks good and is mixed in with higher quality video performances which steal the show, luckily they are well balanced. The voice over work I found was fairly good also, although it could have had a little more emotion. Toping it all of is some excellent music pieces which are timed perfectly to add more of the curtail spooky ambience in intense times. Overall the graphics and sound production are mixed perfectly to solidify the games movie-like allure.
As I mentioned above the co-op mode is the most interesting aspect of Obscure. At any time you can have someone join in the action. If you don't have or want a friend to play along you can control the other characters in the game with the d-pad. The AI is pretty good at handling situations and I must admit sometimes better than a real person. The players in Obscure can die and will be removed from the game, so mixing it up with another character can have some consequences if you're not careful.
Obscure also includes a nice little Macgyver action with its combinable items. You can use this to better equip you friends, or just horde all the weapons yourself. Most of the combinations are straight forward, but it's still a nice little addition to the game. Also Obscure implements a save disc system which allows you to save anywhere, but you will loose the CD. This save system will keep you on your toes and depending on your courage you can choose to save them, or use them up when you come across those little silver discs. I found that they are usually spaced ten to fifteen minutes apart in real time, so it's a might take a little bit to replay certain sections.
Obscure has a lot of great moments that ooze the mojo. Although the story is your typical 'Buffy' romp, Obscure will keep your attention with its A-typical brat pack and twisted evil creatures. Plus, who doesn't love shotguns and exploding bodies?! Yes! Too bad the game ends so soon, I'd love to have another few hours smashing and gunning down demonic creatures.
Obscure is an interesting game with several neat features, most notably it's co-op story mode. Sure, the subject matter has been done before, but Obscure manages to keep it fresh enough for most gamers to enjoy. I would definitely look into Obscure if you are a fan of teen horror movies, or suspenseful horror games.
Gameplay: 7, Graphics/Sound: 8, Innovation: 8, Mojo: 7. Final: 7.5
Reviewed by Downtown Jimmy |
April 15th 2005