Obscure II PS2 Review

Survival horror can get pretty lonely at times as you make your way through often quiet and lifeless environments, so how much better it is to have another player tagging along and helping you to dispatch all types of weird and weirder creatures. When Obscure was released, it allowed us to do that, and filling your heads with enough horrific imagery to make a hellish nightmare seem like an escape is something that is perhaps better shared, or perhaps that’s just us being cowards..

Anyway, the original Obscure was certainly an overlooked game, and perhaps we’re all lucky to be given the opportunity to play a sequel. For those that did play the original, you may very well be still having flashbacks about the nightmarish camera, although the game also had much to champion, particularly having the chance to have human companionship to share the shooting and the bludgeoning of your enemies with.

Set two years following the events of the original, this sequel once again charges you with taking control of a bunch of annoying American teenagers (no offence intended to all the teenagers and the American’s out there). The story may be a little cheesy – involving deadly plants, and a number of teen stereotypes that could quite easily have starred in any number of slasher flicks, but had to settle for this game instead – although as a horror title it is more than adequate.

Wisely this sequel hasn’t forgotten the most unique element of the original game, that of course being the focus on cooperative play. Like the original a second player can conveniently jump in and out of the game at anytime to join you in your suffering. When another player (or perhaps a joypad) isn’t present you’ll be accompanied by an AI buddy, and whilst their intelligence is decent enough, you’ll be cursing when he or she won’t get out of your way, and then praying for a human to get their sweaty hands on a pad to sort out the AI’s shortcomings.

Remaining on the subject of flaws, the original Obscure certainly had some major issues with its camera system, those expecting a much improved camera on the sequel will be disappointed. An arrow does signal your position when you are off the screen, although perhaps disappearing out of sight should never have been a problem to contend with in the first place. With another player, you’ll sometimes feel like you are playing tug-of-war with the camera, but then again trying to go your own way does sort of miss the point of cooperative gaming. Play nice now.

Forgetting about the flaws for now, Obscure II is actually a really good game if you can get past the camera (oops we’ve returned to the flaws again). The group of teens each have their own skills: Corey is efficient at acrobatics for example (often requiring you to tap a button), whilst Mei is skilled in hacking (basically anagram puzzles), Kenny and Sven use their male brawn to move objects around, Amy has the intellect to decrypt jigsaw-like puzzles, and so on.

You’ll be swapping between characters and making use of their talents throughout the game. Of course an extra pair of hands is frequently and readily available to help out in combat, whether it’s a living and breathing or an AI companion carrying a gun or a hard skull cracking melee weapon.

Unsurprisingly the game is split into combat and puzzle solving. The former is a little awkward (particularly the melee combat), and not quite as satisfying as we might have liked (bludgeoning monsters across their skulls is still fun though) whilst the latter is made all the more unique by employing the individual skills of the teen cast.

The game is a genuinely creepy experience with memorable moments and pleasing visuals. Walking through a foreboding forest in the darkness is something that comes to mind, with the quiet and calm being interrupted by the arrival of some nasty monsters.

As a game, like the original, Obscure II fills a void, as a sequel it offers few real surprises. The handful of people who did actually play and enjoy the original, should be delighted with the return of two-player survival horror, and despite its flaws and the rather unflattering score at the foot of this page, Obscure II deserves more attention than the lukewarm amount that the original game received.