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Obscure Review for Xbox

Hydravision Entertainment

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Xbox Core Bronze Medal
Obscure Screenshot Gallery

Obscure Screenshot Gallery

Obscure Screenshot Gallery
Thursday, April 14, 2005 

I’m not a huge survival horror fan by any means. Of course, I have my faint memories of playing Resident Evil on PlayStation back in the early ‘90s, who doesn’t? I’ve maybe purchased three or four “must-have” survival horror titles in my lifetime including Resident Evil Code Veronica on Dreamcast and most recently Fatal Frame II on Xbox. To be completely honest, I didn’t even know much about Obscure until Lee dropped it in my lap and told me to review it. So I guess that’s why I played it. I’m kind of glad I did…


Obscure stars (and also puts you in the role of) a group of five high school students. When I first caught glimpse of the opening video (which opens almost like a modern teen horror flick), I almost instantly felt as if I was watching a new Scream or I Know What You Did Last Summer flick… even the characters remind me a lot of the cast in some of these “teen” horror movies. After the credits roll, and you’re dropped into your setting (playing basketball in the high school gym) you’re immediately let loose to explore the gym, locker room & gymnasium courtyard although you’ll become bored quick and find yourself anxious to jump back into the story.

Eventually you’ll find yourself in another area of the school, with another group of players – locked in the school (yeah for some reason no body thinks to climb out a window, though you can smash them open…). Your group soon becomes responsible for uncovering the mysterious disappearance of a fellow classmate… this also happens to be the beginning of a long string of annoying almost foolish puzzles and ridiculously random enemy encounters.

The characters are particularly well developed, however you’ll need to take into consideration that they’re quite a bit different than the typical survival horror game characters. A real pleasing moment was when I first went into a cut scene after puzzle after puzzle and actually heard the characters speaking, yelling and making noise… no awkward silence like in Silent Hill’s quiet lifeless cut scenes. This was pleasant and it rebuilt suspense and interest after had lost it time after time.

One of the reasons I was so pleased to come across a cut-scene, was the lack thereof. Obscure simply doesn’t offer too much movie-sense, meaning you’ll be playing a lot more than you’ll be watching. While you may think of that as a bad thing, thinking of low production, to be honest it actually works really well and helps keep you in the game. While most of Obscure’s story seems to be told via notes, photos and records you’ll collect scattered around the school, you’ll find the story’s plot thickening constantly with things like “hey, where’d she go!?” to things like “what was that!?”. Everything meshes pretty nice.

Although throughout the game you’ll uncover your traditional survival horror twists and at times you may actually enjoy yourself a good deal, sadly the story doesn’t get much more exciting then it is during the first hour or so of playing… if you’ve played a first few areas, you’ve just about played them all.

There’s really no learning curve in Obscure (really… it’s so easy my little sister could play it and probably get about an hour in…), which by no means is a bad thing. It plays a lot like any other survival horror game. You point your pad where you want to go and you’re there, there’s a button to run, and you pull the trigger to aim your weapon and A to fire it… it’s all pretty basic. About as creative as it gets is the ability to tape two items together (for instance a flashlight and a gun) making things a little less complicated and you also have friends to help you accomplish goals like reaching air ducts up high, etc (alas Splinter Cell Chaos Theory).

A really interesting feature is the ability to have a friend jump in and control an additional character. This is something that really should have been done sooner in the Resident Evil series even. The multiplayer aspect really adds a whole lot of longevity and replay value to any game. I really can’t believe this hasn’t been done before in the genre. Even though I didn’t have anyone playing with me, I’m sure it would make the experience a lot more enjoyable as you could combine your heads to help solve puzzles and missions a little quicker.

I praise the guys on the development team for this one as they did use some creative designing when building Obscure. The game lets the player make use of light (either from a flashlight or a broken window) to help in the extermination of your enemies, as all of them seem to be instantly evaporated by light exposure. If you’ve played Midway’s The Suffering at all, you’ll think this is a bad thing, having to track down those rascally batteries every time you run out… but there’ll be none of that in Obscure. Your flashlight automatically refills itself after a few minutes unused.

Though even as great as it sounds, Obscure still misses the target by a few inches. While you can have anywhere up to four characters in your party, you can only use two characters at a time. So while two of you are off exploring or fighting evil spirits or what have you, the rest of your friends are just kind of hanging out and really do nothing. They may come in handy if your partner gets killed and you need to go back for a new accomplice, but it would just have made a lot more sense to just have the group just stick together the whole time. In addition, the AI is just… well stupid.

Graphics & Audio

One thing that I will give Obscure is that the graphics aren’t too shabby. The CG graphics blend nicely with the actual in game graphics, and they mesh really well. The detail on the levels and characters is really nice and sharp, and the graphics is one of the first things, apart from the killer soundtrack that really had my attention. For instance when I was firing my weapon early in the game, it was cool to actually see the bullet’s shell fly from the gun and watch it hit the pavement with a chime… all on cue. Sure, it’s been done before, but Obscure made it really noticeable. This and things like roaches scurrying upon the wall… its just little things like this that set Obscure, in my opinion, apart from many of the titles in this growing genre. Everything runs extremely smooth and I noticed absolutely zero slow down or pop up even in the most extreme, fastest moments in the game.

The audio is simply breathtaking a lot of times in Obscure. You’re greeted at the title with some killer songs from Sum 41 that definitely pump you up and get you in the mood to shoot evil monsters. It was cool to hear the different sounds my character made as he moved from different surfaces (grass to pavement, pavement to water, etc). The background music while playing is pleasantly orchestrated music and the effects like bushes blowing in the wind, etc look really nice. I really enjoyed how the audio was done in this title a lot.


Well I really enjoyed Obscure… however that being said, it’s by far not the best game I’ve played… nor is it the best survival horror game I’ve played (that belongs to Fatal Frame II still), but it’s definitely worth the measly asking price of just twenty dollars. If DreamCatcher had asked for any more than that, this game wouldn’t have gotten the score I decided to give it. In the end, I’d suggest Obscure to anyone who needs a cheap pick up and play action title to play with a friend. Xbox Live inclusion would have helped this score a bit too, but again – it’s just twenty bucks.

Overall Score

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