By Ferry "Sadhonker" Adams on September 21, 2018
Welcome, dear readers, to another episode of the Big Red Timemachine. Last week, if you remember, Dennis told you about my sudden disappearance at the end of our well-deserved holiday. Well, it turns out I had been out in the sun for far too long and something in my brain just went haywire. Not that this is a stretch from my usual mental state, but still, it got me thinking...
I came to the conclusion that both Dennis and me have been overdoing it somewhat and firmly believed it is about time to finally hire a decent crew. I know, I know, we hired a crew not too long ago but since one of them died under "mysterious" circumstances, the rest doesn't seem too keen to get back to work anytime soon! So, I set out to gather new brave souls to pilot our Big Red Deathtrap... I mean Timemachine. I also had to rebuild most of the machine since Dennis managed to crash it on the return journey from his last trip. Maybe I should have told him before adding twenty additional Fluxilium Overhead Time Boosters... oh well!
He was almost home when he spied, with his little and over-inquisitive eye, a large red button, clearly labeled "Do not touch...ever!" Naturally, he pushed it straight away and the machine went spiraling out of control, crashing in London in the winter of 1952. You may have heard about "The Great Smog of '52" or, as it's also known, "The Big Smoke". Well, this disaster is usually contributed to the excessively burning of coal, but what the history books fail to mention is a big red object crashing (with quite some speed) into the largest coal supply in the city. Dennis managed to take off again before anyone noticed it, but still, the damage had already been done!
Nevertheless, he made it back in one piece and I set about repairing the machine. This leads us to today, where yours truly will take the wheel himself one last time before handing the thing over to our new crew who, as we speak, is being trained in the finer arts of human interaction by Dennis. So strap yourselves in, ladies and gentlemen and take a trip with me to the year 2004, in which we visit Leafmore High; a school where strange things are happening. Things that are even stranger than the stuff that sometimes goes on right here, in our Big Red HQ... and that says it all really!
In 2004, video game developer Hydravision Entertainment brought the world a brand new name in horror-survival gaming: Obscure. The game put the player (or two players in the couch coop mode) in the high-school boots of one of five students at Leafmore High. Now, at this prestigious school, things are not what they seem, something which our protagonists soon find out. Over the course of the past few years, there have been a number of mysterious disappearances among the student population. There's even talk of horrid screams echoing through the halls of the school. Then, all of a sudden, a friend of our protagonists disappears and this is when they decide to hide away and get locked in for the night in order to find and save their friend. As things grow darker and eerie, they'll find out more and more about a dark mystery surrounding the school and will be literally fighting for their very lives within no time flat!
To survive, the five teenagers will have to work together. Luckily, all of the protagonists, except Kenny Matthews, who you play during the intro, each have their own specialties that the player can use to his or her advantage. Kenny is an athlete without special abilities. Josh Carter, who is a reporter for the school paper is the only one who knows if there is something left to do at any given location. Use this to determine if there are still items to find or things that need doing. Shannon Matthews is Kenny's younger sister and has the ability to heal wounds. She is a very clever girl, so she is also very useful when it comes to solving puzzles. Then there is Stanley Jones, a drug-using, rule-breaking computer hacker. Because he often resides on the wrong side of the law, he comes in really handy when picking locks is needed. And, last but not least, there's Ashley Thompson, Kenny's girlfriend and a Leafmore High cheerleader. Ashley is a very action-oriented character that does a lot of damage with weapons and is able to use pistols for rapid fire.
As they make their way through the empty halls of Leafmore High, the teenagers are attacked by monsters, which they will have to defeat. Now, pretty quickly, the kids find out that these horrid creatures are overly sensitive to light. This even goes so far as killing them when the light in question is direct sunlight. Now, being students, they figure out how to use this to their advantage. So a simple flashlight quickly becomes an additional weapon! The light weakens the creatures and makes it easier to kill them with the weapons at your disposal.
Another big part of the game is the puzzle solving. Now, these are usually environment-based puzzles that necessitate a lot of back-tracking and item finding. To gain access to a certain room, you might need to solve a puzzle in a completely different room to get your hands on a key. Or you'll need to find a certain object to open up a secret compartment or door. This is where all the abilities of the group of friends comes in really handy, so make sure to try different characters during play and you'll get where you need to go with more ease.
This leads us to the single best feature in Obscure; TWO PLAYER COOP! Yes, sportsfans; a second player can jump in and control a second character. Although the camera does not always go where you want it to go when playing as the secondary character, it is still a lot of fun! When fighting monsters, a second human-controlled character is also no unwanted luxury. Playing a game together is always lots of fun and Obscure is no exception to this rule! Prowling the halls together and making your way through monster-infested classrooms feels a lot safer than doing so by yourself. This does not, however, mean that the game gets any easier...
I love playing Obscure. It's a fun-to-play horror game that leads you through cool environments and puts you head to head with nasty monsters. The two player mode is a really cool addition to the game. Visually, it looked awesome back in the day and the soundtrack was fun. All in all, everything you wanted from a game back then... or nowadays, for that matter! Obscure spawned one sequel, Obscure II, in 2007, after which things wnet awefully quiet around the series, mostly because of the closure of Hydravision Entertainment. So alas, there was no second sequel, but the two games that the developers managed to make did make a lasting impression on the gaming landscape!
And that concludes all the time we have together for today. Thank you for flying Big Red Air and I sincerely hope to see you next time for another crazy adventure in the world of gaming! I think I'll just pop around Dennis' office to see what progress he has made with our brand-spanking-new employees! Now, if I could only discern where that smell of fear, beer and grilled meat is coming from...