by: Mike Katsufrakis
Ah, American college life, interpreted in ways only the French can! Equal parts Silent Hill and Dawson's Creek, Obscure: The Aftermath is a PSP port of the 2007 sequel to a 2004 survival horror game that no one played. (Hint: Naming your game "Obscure" is a bit of a self-fulfilling prophecy.) Some bad juju has gone down at Fallcreek University, and a new drug (same as the old drug) is causing students to transform into hideously deformed monsters who wreak havoc on all in their path.
You control your rag-tag group of college stereotypes two at a time, battling monsters with found weapons (a hockey stick being my personal favorite) and firearms, solving bog-standard puzzles with requisite camera-issues that give the game a definite "early 2000s survival horror" feel. Certain students have special abilities, whether it's the blond bimbo who sports low-rise jeans and a whale tail at all times' preternatural ability to solve complex codes and see patterns, or the Asian girl's handy ability to be good at math, complete with elite computer hacking skills. The male characters prove less interesting, but are the only ones athletic enough to climb objects or push heavy things around. The gender bias and social commentary is staggering, for sure.
The story is completely forgettable, poorly acted, but has the incredible bonus of mentioning several times that chugging an energy drink cures the following: hangovers, headaches, hallucinations, gashes, slashes and sucking chest wounds.
Not all is so terrible, however. The character models and environments are well-detailed, and despite camera issues, the controls are responsive. The soundtrack is pretty decent as well, and Playlogic has made it available on the game's website. I know this is in the "Beyond Co-Op" section, but surprisingly enough this game offers drop-in/drop-out ad-hoc co-op! It is unfortunate then, that I don't have any friends with PSPs that I see regularly, and I'm not so certain they'd be foolish enough to drop thirty bones on this game.