Obscure: The Aftermath, originally on Playstation 2, has been ported from system to system, and now, the series has found it’s home on the PSP handheld.
Everything you may know and love from the original has been brought into this portable installment: great environments that help shape the tension, sweet co-op action, challenging puzzles, and the occasional scare. But where in the survival horror timeline does this game fall? Can it be best identified as innovative or outdated?
In what could only be conceived as a classy start, Obscure: The Aftermath brings you into the typical sex crazed, drug abusing, beer chugging community of Fallcreek University. With the last scare at Leafmore High behind, Shannon, Kenny, and Stan make some new friends and explore the world of parties and drugs. Devoid of the concept of “consequences”, students infect their bodies with a new drug — dark flower. But what these students don’t realize, is this dark flower has some extreme side effects: mutation!
Expectations of story in survival horror games is never very high. But what survival horror games like Resident Evil and Silent Hill have always done right, was provide the player with some sort of connection with the characters. Unfortunately, this never occurs here, especially for those that will be new to the Obscure series.
Taking on the many poor qualities of a survival horror flick, Obscure: The Aftermath contains a story that is easily forgettable. And the humor and voice acting will have you shaking your head within minutes of starting the game. However, for some, the “humor” will catch you off guard, lighten the tension, and maybe even conjure up a small chuckle. But for those that have outgrown stereotypical college humor, frustration is inevitable.
Fortunately for Obscure, the story in survival horror games is never the most important element. However, it plays very much like an outdated survival horror game. Run through what is ultimately a collection of linear areas, kill some monsters, and solve some puzzles.
Lack of a stunning storyline aside, there are unique elements in this game that shine. The adoption of co-op gameplay by Obscure was an extremely unique aspect at its time, and that hasn’t changed years later. Obscure: The Aftermath provides gamers with ad-hoc co-op gameplay which allows you to join with a friend and take control both characters.
With roughly six characters available to choose from, each character provides unique skills that are used for various puzzles and areas throughout the game. This is certainly a unique element of gameplay, but one which eventually becomes repetitive and uninspired.
For example, stacks of wooden boxes are the only means of getting to the final door in the room. But jumping and climbing are required to get there using the wooden boxes. By using the jock, his strength comes in handy at times of lifting and pushing. Switching to an acrobatic character allows for the scaling, jumping, and maneuvering to the door.
But it is these unique co-op elements that may intrigue some, especially for those that have sworn off survival horror co-op ever since the horrid AI in Resident Evil 5; so don’t assume this will be the same negative experience. Surprisingly enough, the AI tends to do what you want it to do while plaything through the environments and combat.
Throughout the game you will pick up various weapons from a baseball bat, to a stun gun, to a crossbow. Despite the range of weapons available, I never found myself actually strategizing an area with what weapons to use. I just used whatever had ammo, held right trigger to target the closest enemy, and continued to wish the game required aiming so as to provide me with a small semblance of challenging combat. Ultimately, combat boils down to target, spam attack, switch targets, spam attack, dead mutant.
Visually, Obscure stands out among most games available on the PSP. Detailed environments, attention to detail of mutants, and all the blood you can imagine are the true drivers of the tension. But despite the downfalls, at one point in the game, I realized what Obscure has that forced me to keep playing it are elements of old-school gameplay that made me fall in love with the survival horror genre years ago. In fact, this game inspired me to go back to my roots of what is truly my favorite genre, as most recently, I have found myself using remote play on my PSP to play Resident Evil.
If you are a young teenager, have gotten the approval of your parents to buy mature games, have yet to play a survival horror title, and PSP is your only gaming system, Obscure: The Aftermath is definitely for you. However, for many this game is extremely outdated and provides nothing new to the genre.
Wonderful environments and attention to detail help aid in the attempt to scare consumers.
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Co-op works extremely well and adds a unique touch. However, everything else plays like an outdated survival horror game.
The only high point of the sound is the soundtrack, as the writing and voice acting are elementary at best.
Obscure is 10+ hours and nothing that will want you to come back for seconds.
Obscure: The Aftermath will provide some with a nice, handheld introduction into the survival horror genre. But for most, it's nothing more than an outdated handheld port.