Obscure: Learn about Fear Review (PC)

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Obscure is an interesting survival-horror game from developer Hydravision. Featuring such interesting things as a two-player co-op mode, it’s definitely not a bad game to pick up at the budget-minded price of $20.

The story is rather unique for a survival horror game, and will mostly remind you of teen horror movies, as the story plays out similarly to those. Obscure takes place in a high school titled the Leafmore High School. Basically, a basketball player named Kenny disappears while playing some late-night hoops. Then, his friends and sister set out to find out what happened to him. To do this, they’ll have to wander through the spooky high-school while wielding all types of weapons late at night.

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Firstly, the visuals in the game are decent, but on the average side. Environments are interesting and populated with objects that you can move by walking into them, but characters models are rather boring. The animations for the models aren’t any more spectacular. However, some of the special effects look nice, namely the lighting and the darkness effects.

Sound in the game is well done. For games like this, where atmosphere is such a big factor to enjoyment, a good 5.1 system is a must. Obscure does pretty well with its audio presentation, just as most survival horror games do. Enemies sound as they should, as do all other sound effects present in the game.

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One interesting standout feature about the audio, however, is the inclusion of licensed music by Sum 41 and Span. These are some pop-punk bands that at first seem oddly out of place in a survival horror game. However, considering that this is basically an interactive version of your average summer teen horror movie, it makes sense. As far as dialogue goes, they try a little too hard to sound ‘hip’, but it’s otherwise pretty top-notch.

In the gameplay department, I really have to give the development team credit. They tried to break from the norm in a few things the genre seems to have set as the norm. First of all, the co-op gameplay in the game is touted as one of the major features. Surprisingly it works pretty well, and is a blast to play with a friend. Although the game can be beaten really quickly if played in co-op, it’s still a good time while it lasts. The only major fault of the co-op mode is that one character can completely wander off-screen as another character is doing something else. Also, a gamepad is a must for fun in co-op.

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If you decide to play the game alone, it’s still pretty much the same experience. You have teammates that will assist you in various ways. There are five characters in all, and you can choose to control one and another to follow you. The A.I. controlling them varies from incredibly helpful to incredibly annoying. If they’re not equipped with anything, they’ll just stay and do nothing. If they’re equipped with a gun though, they are fairly efficient at laying the smackdown on anyone that approaches.

Besides that, the characters all have certain abilities. They can tell you what you should do next, or if there is there is something important that you should find in the room that you’re in. This is an interesting touch that you don’t see in survival horror games. However, the end result is really that the game ends up being far too easy. Part of the challenge of these games is finding out what in the world is your next move, and you can completely spoil that for yourself in this game.

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Another problem is that the camera is fairly typical of games like this. It seems to never be quite where you want it to be. You do have some limited control over it, but it’s still a hassle to be fumbling with the camera when you want to be kicking butt. The save system in the game kind of reminds you of Resident Evil and its typewriters. Here they are CDs that can be used anywhere, though.

The game itself can easily be completed solo in half a dozen hours. Disappointingly, during these six hours, you’ll be facing mostly the same enemies over and over. Although they are punctuated by fairly interesting boss fights, there are only a handful of different monsters types that you’ll encounter. Fighting them is powered by a logical system that somehow enhances the fun of mowing down monsters. You can tape a flashlight to your weapon and enhance its power as well as keep monsters at bay by shining light at them. Something that Doom 3 would surely have benefited from.

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Overall, the game is certainly a steal at a mere twenty bucks. If you’re a fan of survival horror games, this is one unique game that you’ll surely enjoy to play through—despite its rather short length. If you have a friend that shares your passion, then there’s no reason to not pick this one up.