Obscure: The Aftermath is a survival-horror game aimed at people that love Hollywood screamers. The story involves a rowdy fraternity party that unleashes mutants on a college campus, and the to-do list calls for hacking up those creatures with hockey sticks, chainsaws, and other fun killing implements. Sounds sweet, right? NOT! The action is weak and the graphics are butt-ugly.
Atmospherically, the game does what it needs to do. The dorms are spooky at night, bloody creatures frequently crash through windows, and the rock-orchestra music evokes memories of classic Buffy the Vampire Slayer episodes. Since the setting is a college, the cheesy dialogue scenes are appropriately peppered with references to drinking, drug use, and promiscuous sex. Half the girls are running around with their thong underwear sticking up out of their jeans (showing their "whale tails").
Searching for keys, swapping between six characters to solve puzzles, and repeatedly tapping the attack button to chop at zombies is fine for a short while. However, the honeymoon ends once you realize you're going to be seeing the same carbon copy muties throughout the whole game.
Oh boy, it's that blobby zombie thing, AGAIN!
The CPU controlled helper also has a habit of getting in your way. Thankfully, you can alleviate that by handing someone else a second controller and making them control the tagalong.
When you aren't yelling at your CPU buddy to move, you'll be cursing the frequent password cracking minigames that grind the story to a halt while you unscramble letters to reveal words like “Mozart” and “Picasso.”
Nail-biting difficulty adds cruelty to an experience that's already draining. Every time a pair of frat-monsters breaks through a wall, you can count on losing some health. Energy drinks, health kits, and ammunition aren't plentiful, so you're always tiptoeing ahead with the fear that the next encounter will kill you. And it probably will.
Conservation-induced tension is usually a good thing in a horror game, but it's a negative when there's no payoff in the action.
Ugly, last-gen visuals further dampen the fear factor. Muddy textures and low poly counts cause scenery and monsters to blend together into a murky mess. The brightness is dialed way back, which does make for a spookier atmosphere, but it also makes everything that much tougher to see.
Should you manage to work through Obscure: The Aftermath, you'll bear witness to a lengthy story that matches top-notch Hollywood flicks like Scream and Land of the Dead when it comes to edgy dialogue, likable characters, and surprise perils. Unfortunately, you probably won't get much enjoyment out of the game's actual hands-on aspects.
Apr 2, 2008