In 2009, Hydravision Entertainment came back to create a sequel to 2004’s ObsCure. ObsCure II (or ObsCure: the Aftermath) follows characters that survived the horrors that occurred two years prior at Leafmore High School alongside some new faces.
ObsCure 2 was originally released on Microsoft Windows, the PlayStation 2, and the Wii, with a PSP version that followed some time afterward. The game was published by Ignition Entertainment (NA) and Playlogic Entertainment (PAL) In 2014, ObsCure II was made available to play on Steam.
This installment of the ObsCure series features an improvement of nearly all of the hang-ups that held the first game back. Co-op gameplay returns with some new characters to play as, alongside new character-specific abilities that get utilized much better than prior. Other improvements include new enemies to face, new weapons to defend yourself with, much better puzzles and secrets to find, and a whole fistful of quality-of-life improvements.
The ObsCure series is beloved by a niche group of players, so this review aims to take a present-day look at a PlayStation 2 survival horror classic. With the game still available on Steam, let’s dig into ObsCure II to see if it still holds up in 2023.
The Nightmare Continues at Fallcreek College
Following the events that unfolded two years prior, ObsCure II opens with a view of Fallcreek College. Soon after the intro sequence, the player gains control of Corey and Mei, who are late to meet up with their friends. On their way, they meet a handful of the cast who all talk about getting into a frat party.
While they hang out, they indulge in some ground-up black plant which causes Corey to pass out. When he wakes up, he and Mei find themselves in a dark cemetery littered with cadavers. After a nightmarish dream sequence that features horrifying monsters and shadowy illusions that depict their friends, Corey regains consciousness and finds himself bent over a toilet.
Inhaling random black flowers found growing on campus is probably not the best idea.
Something about the plant seemed very off, and without much time to ponder, he goes to catch up with the others for the party. Night falls and much like what occurred at Leafmore, students begin shifting and turning into horrific beasts. The young adults now are challenged to face another nightmare and uncover the truth behind this second outbreak.
The story in ObsCure II isn’t groundbreaking and a bit more all over the place than the first game. Often, the story splits into multiple short scenarios that follow different pairs of the cast which sometimes don’t add up to anything when each sequence is completed. An example is when two members of the cast are racing against time to save another character who has a scripted death at the end of the sequence. The game tries to have impactful moments like this, but it’s hard to sympathize with a character’s death that had only a couple of lines and hardly any screen time. It may be an attempt to show how helpless and dire the situation is for the cast, but the execution fumbles the bag and makes it difficult to take seriously.
It’s kind of bad but in a fun way. Nostalgia certainly does a lot of heavy lifting for the story so newcomers to the series may often be left scratching their heads. It’s nowhere as deep as Silent Hill and the more you take ObsCure II at face value, the better of an experience you’ll have with the game.
History repeats itself. Once again, students begin transforming into bloodthirsty beasts.
On its own, you can piece together quite a bit on your own and through character interactions that you almost don’t need to have played the first game. That being said, with some characters making a return in a sequel, there are still a few moments that will be slightly more impactful and make more sense if you know the story of the previous entry.
Overall, the story is a little messy, but it’s campy enough to be enjoyable. Your mileage may vary as a player trying out the series for the first time. It’s a fair claim that the story is the game’s weakest link.
New Monsters and New Weapons
While the story isn’t Oscar-worthy, ObsCure II does improve on its previous formula of combat, puzzles, and unique character abilities. The biggest positive change is that character abilities are now required to progress through certain points of the game and to solve puzzles, which makes characters feel a lot more important and have weight to them compared to the first game.
Another change is that you’ll receive a game over if any of the characters die this time around, which makes sense due to their required abilities to progress certain parts. This makes certain sections of the game feel more tense due to making sure everyone is healed up. If the party member you need is badly wounded and has to make a dangerous trek to unlock a door, you are in for a bad time.
At least they had the sense to lock up the gun at a frat house full of drunk young adults.
Saving the game is also different. In ObsCure, you were given Save Disks that acted much similar to Resident Evil’s typewriters, except that you can use Disks at any time. In ObsCure II, you can only save by using large black flowers and they can only be used once.
Most of ObsCure II is very straightforward, but there are a few sections where it may be best to wait a moment before using a flower as soon as you encounter it. While this doesn’t carry the same type of tension as carrying save disks and rationing them, it does attempt to give the player something to look forward to while surviving ambushes of monsters.
Combat is still a bit clunky in this game, but the player is given much more options to deal with foes. Some weapons can be found pretty easily as you progress, with more powerful weapons hidden inside ‘item boxes’. There is also the addition of weapons that consume energy, like the battery-powered chainsaw, which gives the player another resource to manage.
As for the actual combat, it’s mostly the same as in the previous game with a major exception. The ‘Alan Wake’ flashlight beam mechanic has been removed completely. This leaves combat feeling less complex than the first game.
These buggers are quick to move, making it difficult to shoot at… and capture screenshots of them.
Shooting and melee combat is as simple as it gets in ObsCure II, making it accessible to players who are unfamiliar with the survival horror genre. For veterans, however, combat can get stale pretty early on in the game. If ammunition runs low, melee combat offers very little strategy besides trading hits with your enemies, or using a friend to bait attacks while the other strikes from safety.
Enemy variety helps shift up your tactics, especially when facing quick foes paired up with slow and tanky ones. Variables such as speed and health are the main differences between each of the monsters you’ll face in ObsCure II, besides from their obviously different appearances. The game does ease you into combat as you build your arsenal, so you’ll often have just enough ammo and healing items to handle monster attacks.
ObsCure II does not offer a difficulty selection, but there is a system implemented to balance out your supplies. The game will check your current supplies and spawn more or less when you enter a new room. Players who are new to the survival horror genre may feel a bit challenged, but veterans will have no problem tackling the challenges in this game.
Overall, the combat is standard for the genre and the balance is well enough to keep most players on their toes.
Exploration, Puzzles, and Character Abilities
The game has a small handful of locations to explore, with very limited backtracking required. Unlike the first game, ObsCure II takes place across several smaller set pieces rather than one large location that spans the entire game. Players will find themselves running around at a frat
house, a hospital, a creepy house in the woods, and even the inside of a dam.
I guess climbing on the side of a hospital is easier than going in through a window a couple of stories below.
While exploring areas, players can search for supplies, like ammo and healing items, as well as solve puzzles to progress the story. Some characters can access areas that offer more supplies, like Mei who can hack into rooms, or Shannon who can clear out spore clusters that block doorways.
There are also hidden small keys that can be found that open special item boxes. Each box requires three keys, and inside players can find more powerful weapons, like the flare gun or crossbow. Some of these keys are hidden in some clever spots, which encourages players to search everywhere they can if they want some upgraded firepower.
Overall, ObsCure II’s gameplay is straightforward enough to satisfy the survival horror itch, but not deep enough to satiate players who want more than a standard experience.
ObsCure II’s level design is mostly a railroaded experience. Players will find themselves moving from location to location much more quickly than they would in the first game, with the exception of a couple of larger locations like the hospital or the dam.
Different pairs of characters may pass through the same locations as other members, due to parts of the story causing them to split apart from each other. This ends up allowing players to access different parts of a location, depending on which characters they are controlling. The locations get a bit more depth through these moments and more opportunities to discover secrets that were previously unobtainable.
Enemy placement and puzzles are much better in ObsCure II than they were in the previous entry. Enemy ambushes often occur in larger locations, which gives the player more time to react accordingly without taking cheap hits. Pacing between combat and exploration phases is balanced evenly, without too much downtime for players to get bored.
The frat house location ends up feeling much like a castle towards the end of the level.
Puzzles aren’t too difficult but offer much more than they did in the first game. Often the solution requires players to explore areas more fully to search for clues or hints. Aside from puzzles required to progress, there are a couple of ‘mini-games’ that have been added as an additional challenge.
Mei can hack things, which opens up her phone where you’ll then have to crack a passphrase in Wordle fashion. Amy can decipher things if she analyzes them, which makes her able to piece together ripped-up scraps to reveal crucial information, much like putting together an actual puzzle.
Overall the game is set up in a way to prevent players from getting bored too early. With all of these additions to ObsCure’s formula, it makes for a game with just enough depth to be unique on its own. By the time things start to feel stale, the game’s conclusion is just around the corner.
ObsCure II arrived a couple of years after the first, and the art design has improved considerably. Characters look a bit better and have more animation than the first game. Some combat animations, like melee attacking, are a little janky but are passable for the time the game was released.
One immediately noticeable improvement is that the mutated frat boys look much more threatening, with grotesque skin folds and sharp and deadly appendages. The new enemy types are a step up, and their appearances keep the game spooky by providing unique horrors for players to overcome.
The bloody walls and abandoned school are a nice nod to the design of Silent Hill’s ‘Other World’.
The textures in the game are decent, with some of the locations having very detailed models to fill out empty spaces. While you may blast through some of the areas in the game, if you take your time and smell the (non-mortifilia) flowers, the attention to detail is great.
Sound Design and Voice Acting
While a clever ear can hear some recycled sounds from the first game, ObsCure II does have a stronger sound design this time around. Enemies have specific screams, groans, and grunts that act as a warning sign of what danger lies ahead. In some instances, you can even hear them stomping around in rooms just ahead of you.
Alongside enemies sounding quite terrifying, the soundtrack features more chilling Latin choir music like the first game. Background ambiance for locations is better and holds up very well in the present day.
One minor drawback is the voice acting being just a little rough around the edges, but it ends up giving the characters a bit more charm. Unfortunately, the dialogue lines have much worse writing than delivery, but campiness aside, it’s fine. There are a few moments where the delivery of lines doesn’t exactly match the mood. An example is when a certain character dies, the characters still have chipper tones and banter while exploring seconds after their friend dies.
It can be goofy at times, so it makes it difficult to take the game seriously. That being said, the voice lines do very little to detract from the fun of the game itself.
Who is ObsCure II for?
ObsCure II does not offer any other game modes after completing the game, so there isn’t much in the way of replayability aside from just playing the base game. Most of the game plays out the same, so there aren’t different endings to earn. Ultimately, the main difference between playthroughs is how you handle threats and how many weapons you can find each run.
Players who are new to survival horror would have a good experience playing ObsCure II, even today. The game holds up well to provide a thrill, challenge, and interesting enough story for most players who are somewhat experienced at games.
Veterans and hardcore players won’t be challenged too much while playing ObsCure II, but the story and gameplay offer an experience that’s worth trying out at least once. If you drag a friend along to play with you, you may end up having more fun than expected.
ObsCure II isn’t the greatest survival horror game, but it’s good enough to be loved by many. On a more critical level, the game has a few things that hold it back from achieving the successes of other survival horror franchises. ObsCure II offers the depth that the first game in the series needed, but not much more than that.
At the end of the day, it’s just dumb fun with a spooky coat of paint.
- New mechanics that the first game lacked
- Co-op play that is just as good as the first
- Combat can get repetitive
- Low replayability
- The story is hard to take seriously