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ObsCure Reviewed by Adam Wallace on . Rating: 78%
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  • Review Score:

  • B+
By the sixth generation, video gaming was becoming as cinematic as movies. As such, many of the tropes that for decades were reserved for film started to show up in video games for the simple reason that it was possible to use them at that point. With that in mind, I'm amazed that it took until 2005 for one of horror's biggest tropes, the group of diverse teenagers, to make it into a game. While the game in question Obscure doesn't take full advantage of the trope, it's still a good survival horror game.

The story in Obscure is very ridiculous, but it works. Five students get trapped in their high school one evening and have to contend with plant-based mutant experiments that got unleashed. It's all the ridiculousness of the movies The Faculty and The Happening combined. While the plot is rather stupid, the game sells it well with the writing. The characters all have distinct personalities, and the voicework was pretty good with just a few over-the-top performances here and there. I was motivated to see where the insanity led.

ObsCure (Xbox)Click For the Full Picture Archive

The game also sells on its atmosphere. The soundtrack is excellent, relying on an ambient drone and background sound effects to keep things tense. I didn't even mind the Sum 41 on the soundtrack; it fits the vibe of a teen horror movie. The visuals, while maybe a little too dark, are very detailed. The school has a lot of personality without going as crazy as a Resident Evil game's decor. The effects when one of the creatures pops up are still chilling. The only real problem is the camera. While most of the time I could see everything okay, there were more than a few times where it just wouldn't point the right way or would swing wildly, making it easy to miss doors and objects.

The gameplay doesn't stray far from Resident Evil or Silent Hill. The combat and puzzle solving fit in with those series. It is nice to be able to find duct tape for combining items, the most useful being sticking a flashlight on a firearm. The big gimmick for this game is the partner dynamic. The main character Josh can take any of the other four classmates with him at any time (after they've been found), and the partner can even be controlled by a second player. Each of the classmates has a distinct advantage like healing more or picking locks faster. Unfortunately, that idea was half-baked. There is no point in which a certain character will be needed, and I think that is a lost opportunity. Wouldn't it have been cool if certain pathways required certain partners like in the Lego games?

Obscure's only real failing was not taking enough chances. Aside from the partner mechanic, it plays it very safe, sticking with the horror game conventions of the time. However, it still did things well and was as enjoyable as any number of cheesy teen horror movies. Give it a chance; I'm sure it'll grow on you.
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