Review by horror_spooky

Reviewed: 03/31/08

Survival Horror Lives!

The original Resident Evil introduced Survival Horror to the world and for it was one of the most popular gaming genres around, with classic titles like Dino Crisis, Silent Hill, and Fatal Frame being released. However, people started to get annoyed with the Survival Horror formula and slowly but surely, the genre began to die. Sure, titles like Resident Evil 4 and Condemned were considered “Survival Horror” and they were exceptional games, but they truly weren’t Survival Horror. It’s been years since I’ve played a true Survival Horror game, but with the release of Obscure: The Aftermath I can once again enjoy the classic formula that made Survival Horror so popular.

Unlike the first game, taping things together really isn’t that important, but there is a wide variety of weapons at your disposal. You can use anything from a hockey stick and a golf club to a chainsaw and stun gun to a shotgun and pistol. This is where the game spices things up. If you are using a melee weapon you use it by swinging the remote. If you swing it down, you swing the weapon down and if you swing it side-to-side, you swing it side-to-side. As simple as this sounds, it does actually add an extra level of entertainment to the game. Battery-powered weapons like the chainsaw are used similarly to melee weapons or guns, but they have to be recharged at recharging stations found throughout the game. Guns are used pretty much like the last game, except you use the remote to aim pretty much wherever you want to. Problems arise here because if you need to use a gun fast, you’ll have to quickly reposition yourself on the screen to aim correctly.

Just like in previous Survival Horror games there are health items and key items that you find lying around. In Obscure, health consists of medical kits, energy drinks, and monster juice that you can take from enemies after killing them. You could probably guess that you usually use the key items in puzzles and Obscure does have its fair share of puzzles. Most of the puzzles are decent and challenging, but some of the puzzles later in the game basically just throw you into the puzzle without having any clue what you are doing.

What I loved the most about the original Obscure was the co-operative mode. I don’t know how many times I wished Capcom would come out with a Resident Evil game that went on co-op (Outbreak was a major disappointment because it lacked offline co-op) and when I first played the original Obscure, I was ecstatic. The co-op mode is back in full this time around, but there is a little bit more of working together you have to do in order to progress through the game. For example, one of you may have to stay behind and turn wheels in order for your partner to progress further to pull a lever that will let you through. The camera system for co-operative mode still hasn’t been fixed, though. The camera will only focus on one player at a time, which can cause some problems during fights, especially if the other player is totally blind as to what is going on.

Like in the previous games, each character has a special ability. Mei is able to hack into rooms by guessing the names of famous people, Shannon is able to suck dark substances away by using the Wii remote to hold your hand over a floating black circle, Corey can climb around Prince of Persia-style, Amy can decrypt messages for clues, both Sven and Kenny are jocks that can push heavy things around, and Stan can break into places by lock-picking. A lot of these take advantage of the Wii’s controls, which definitely makes each character’s special moves more fun to do than in the last game. However, the lock-picking in this game can be a real pain in the ass. It’s hard to keep the cursor where it needs to be on the screen and it really does a number on your arm.

The Wii’s unique controls are used in a variety of other ways throughout the game that really does make Obscure stand out on its own from the rest of the Survival Horror crowd. This time around, when you need to pull a lever, you’ll have to pull the Wii remote back like you were really moving a lever. When you need to turn a wheel, you’ll have to move the nunchuck and Wii remote like a wheel and when you are using gardening shears you move the Wii remote and nunchuck down like you would actual shears. You can pick up chairs and boxes and throw them on the ground by using the Wii remote, which can add some hilarity when you break a wooden chair across your partner’s head.

Like in the previous game, Obscure definitely tries to emulate famous horror films and it does it quite well, actually. Most of the characters are stereotypes, but you will find yourself actually caring when one of them dies. There are some twists and turns here and there and fans of the first game will be shocked by some of the moments in Obscure: The Aftermath. Though I think some of the characters under-reacted when someone close to them ended up killed. I’m glad that the game continued the story from the first game, which is a breath of fresh air from some video games today that totally ditch the story from the original game. There are scenes in Obscure that fans of horror movies will acknowledge as references to some famous horror series like Friday the 13th and The Texas Chainsaw Massacre.

Graphically, Obscure: The Aftermath is actually quite good-looking, especially during cut-scenes. During gameplay, the graphics plummet to about PlayStation 2 standards, which is a disappointment since I’ve seen the Wii do much better than that. The character animations are slick and I only experienced about one glitch the entire game, which is a rarity these days. The environments will remind you of Silent Hill, which means there are definitely some spooky effects in place. The enemies all look relatively the same which is somewhat disappointing and hopefully if there is a sequel, there will be a bigger variety of enemies to deal with.

There are some nice lines in Obscure and there are definitely some dramatic moments, but the voice-acting was just terrible. Seriously, the voice-acting is so unbelievably terrible that I think the developers did it on purpose…which they shouldn’t have done at all! A nice thing, however, is that if you’re in a place too long the characters do try to give you hints, but if you’re stuck for a long time this can get kind of annoying. The soundtrack is great, just like in the previous game, with some very awesome songs included, though without the star power of Sum 41 aiding the game this time. There are some sweet music jumps that will make even the most stone-faced gamer jump and some sweet sound effects. Wouldn’t you be scared if you were walking around an old farmhouse and all of a sudden the sound of screams coupled with a chainsaw and laughing maniac was heard all over?

The biggest downfall of Obscure is that it’s just way too short. You can complete the game in about five to eight hours and there isn’t even an alternate ending to shoot for like most Survival Horror games. There isn’t anything to unlock really except for concept art, but there is some secrets to find in the game for the hardcore gamer. However, with the co-op mode available, it would definitely be just as fun to go through the game again with someone different from the first time.

It’s good to see that there are still games that are true to the Survival Horror genre. While it’s good that series like Resident Evil have evolved throughout time, I sometimes find myself craving a game that will provide the kind of thrills that the old Survival Horror experience did. Obscure: The Aftermath combines a lot of ideas from games like Resident Evil and Silent Hill, but also adds its own blend of entertainment with its unique co-operative mode as well as taking advantage of the unique capabilities of the Wii to provide a fresher Survival Horror experience. Hopefully, the future will provide more titles like Obscure for the Wii.

Rating:   4.5 - Outstanding

Product Release: Obscure: The Aftermath (US, 03/25/08)

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