For as long as I can remember, I've been a gamer. I was born in the 80s and grew up during the 90s. I was first introduced into gaming by my father when I played video games with him on our family's DOS PC. Some of those old titles included Commander Keen, Duke Nukem, Jazz Jackrabbit, Wolfenstein 3D, Doom and Wing Commander.
What really cemented my identity as a gamer was when he bought my brothers and I a SEGA Genesis for Christmas in '95, that was the day I was introduced to Sonic the Hedgehog.
From that day I've been fascinated with all facets of gaming and the culture that surrounds it. And despite starting out as a notorious SEGA fanboy (a habit I admittedly haven't entirely shook) I now spend my free time playing a wide assortment of genres across a variety of consoles.
It's no secret that the internet can be an overtly negative place to hang out sometimes and when it comes to bloggers and journalists, there's certainly no shortage of the angry critic. While several internet personalities are quite talented at implementing their perceived rage when approaching a review or retrospective I see no point in trying to do something that has been done before on countless prior occasions. Instead, I'd like to try things a little differently and speak up for the underdogs out there. For Your Re-Consideration is a series of overviews that highlights the brighter aspects of games, hardware and other things in nerd culture that seem to be the whipping boys in their respective fandoms. To be clear, these articles are not meant to be unbiased critiques, many of the negative attributes surrounding these subjects are well-known popular opinion. Instead, this is just an encouragement to give something another look.
The original ObsCure has become something of a cult classic amongst my fellow gamer friends. While the series has never enjoyed any sort of wide spread acclaim the first entry in this little known franchise seems to be regarded as an interesting experiment in the Survival Horror genre, an interesting experiment that deserved a second attempt by series' studio Hydravision Entertainment. I'm a huge fan of Survival Horror and Obscure had been recommended to me by my friends at least a dozen times before but whenever I asked about the game's sequel everyone I knew seemed to hold it in low regard. It's a shame really, because ObsCure: The Aftermath is one of the finest examples of Survival Horror I've seen on the Wii.
The atmosphere in ObsCure 2 is reminiscent of other classic horror titles
This game really seems to be a celebration of what made the horror genre so fun and unique in the mid 90s. Keeping the game's tone in the realm of the ridiculous, ObsCure 2 seems to have found the inspiration for it's plot in teen slasher films. You'll control a whole cast of college-age stereotypes as they fight desperately to survive when the school's populace is infected by a parasitic black flower. What makes ObsCure 2 unique today is it's strict adherence to Survival Horror conventions. You'll have severely limited supplies, infrequent save points, threatening enemies and restricted cameras that feel like they're right out of a PSX game.
A big part of the game's appeal to me is just how well Hydravision utilized the Wii remote. The motions used make sense and feel very responsive. Firearms are used in conjunction with the pointer and reloading is done by shaking the Nunchuk. Melee attacks are accomplished by swinging the Wii remote and surprisingly enough the game can differentiate between vertical and horizontal swings. All other motions are contextual but they're all very well implemented without any of them feeling gimmicky. It's a shame that more developers couldn't competently apply motion controls to their games like this during the Wii's heyday but it's always refreshing to see when somebody out there seemingly "gets it".
Also worth noting is ObsCure 2's environments. All levels are logically laid out with traditional Adventure puzzles impeding your progress. Thankfully all puzzles are relatively logic based and can be figured out pretty easily if you're paying attention. The game's cast each have separate special abilities that you'll need to utilize to advance in certain situations. During some of ObsCure 2's more clever puzzles you'll need to take advantage of two specific characters' abilities simultaneously in tandem to progress. This interesting dichotomy stands out as being unique in the genre and allows for some really stand out co-op moments without ever devolving the experience into a 2-player shooter.
Co-op is especially well implemented
That's right, the game features 2-player drop-in, drop-out co-op. Normally such a statement would be a death sentence for a horror game but ObsCure 2 manages to present a multiplayer experience without sacrificing good scares. And the title has it's fair share of good scares, really building up tension with it's moody atmosphere and excellent sound design. Often you'll be given a preview of the horrors you'll face much later by hearing monsters shambling around elsewhere in the building. Finally, the story is just plain silly fun. Much like a Resident Evil title the cause of this nightmare is absolutely ludicrous but played with enough sincerity to keep the game from slipping into parody.
The supposed disappearance of Survival Horror in our industry is easy to understand. The very things that make these games nerve racking are the common complaints associated with this title. Combat is difficult, supplies are limited and one or two enemies can feel over-powered enough to defeat you in an instant. But taken for what it is and given the opportunity ObsCure: The Aftermath has the potential to be a really captivating game. I was glued to my television start-to-finish and I suspect many other fans of 90s horror games will have a similar experience if they show it a little Re-Consideration.
ObsCure: The Aftermath is available on PS2, PSP, PC & Wii. This overview was written after having completed the game on Wii.