|Developer: Hydravision Entertainment
Release Date: Out Now
Obscure is a new survival horror game by French developer Hydravision Entertainment. Looking at their website, it appears this is their first title, and currently the game appears quite low key, and not many people have heard of it. This is a shame, as it really is a superb title and deserves to be shouted about. The story goes like this:
Obscure is a team-based survival horror title - from the initial three characters (there are five in total who you meet up with later in the game) you choose a lead character, then a secondary character to follow you around. You choose them by simply walking up to them and pressing ĎXí. Each character has different skills, and one has a very handy ability - when you press Ďsquareí he will tell you if there is anything else to look for or do in the room youíre in. This saves many moments of running along a wall repetitively pressing X to see if there is anything to activate or pickup. Another characterís skill is that she will tell whatís best to do next, so if you get stuck in the game, you can go and ask her and she will point you in the right direction. Getting stuck and having to do the same thing repeatedly are some gamersí pet hates about the survival horror genre, so Obscure instantly improves on other games in this area.
The inventory system in Obscure is really well done, and is similar to Metal Gear Solid where pressing ĎL2í brings up a list on the left side of the screen of all your items and health, and pressing ĎR2í brings your weapons up on the right side of the screen. Between the two current characters, you share your ammo, health and items, but the weapons you pick up are only viewable in each playerís individual inventory. You can swap weapons around at any time, and give health to either player within the inventory menus. I really like the system they use, however I would have preferred it if the inventory paused the game like MGS so itís not such a panic to select new guns or get new health when under attack. The menus are quick and easy to navigate though, so itís only a small gripe. You can also carry everything you find in the game, unlike Resident Evil and its painfully limited inventories. You can only check your characterís health within the pause menu, and itís shown by how bloody the photo of them is. It works ok, but I think a small on-screen pop-up gauge would perhaps work better.
The enemies, which are quite disturbing and make some of the scariest noises I have ever heard in a game, only seem to be scared of one thing; bright light. So the first thing to do (after grabbing a gun of course) is to find a torch. These prove to be as valuable as firearms in the game, because if you shine the light at the enemies and press L1 to increase the brightness temporarily, they will back off and start to melt away. At this point, puncture them with a few bullets and theyíll soon go down. Your torch has a temperature gauge, and once the bulb has reached maximum heat, its monster-melting days are over until itís cooled down. You will come across more powerful torches later in the game, which can boost (shine brighter) for longer periods of time. As your torch is classed as a weapon, you canít hold a gun and a torch at the same time, so you have to go on the hunt for some sticky tape. Once you have found it, you can tape your torch to the top of your weapon and always have both available. Youíll need them too.
Hydravision have gone for a camera system that is a cross between Resident Evil and Silent Hill. The camera will follow you around in a third-person perspective, but itís often not directly behind you, so you might be running into the camera, or to the left of it for example. There are also static cameras in the game, which donít hinder progress and certainly add suspense to the game. Unlike a lot of games with fixed cameras, you can almost always see what youíre shooting at, so the game does a good job of allowing you to see everything you need to.
- A really decent survival horror game that isnít Resi or Silent Hill.
- The two-player co-op mode.
- A sensible inventory system that works.
- Sounds superb (especially in Dolby Pro Logic II).
- Itís quite a short game.
- More varied boss fights would have been welcome.
- A better way of seeing the state of your characterís health would be nice.