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Obscure II

Smells like teen spirits.

There was a time when gamers with a fetish for horror could enjoy a new blood splattered title every few months. Think back two or three years and we were pretty much spoiled for choice, with two new Silent Hill games in quick succession, three Project Zero games released in just over three years, a fantastic Resident Evil renaissance, and a ton of other interesting titles vying for attention.

And it's in among the likes of Haunting Ground, Forbidden Siren, Clock Tower 3, Cold Fear, Call of Cthulhu and Condemned that you might find Hydravision's forgotten gem Obscure. Released by Ubisoft on PS2, Xbox and PC way back in 2004, it was a pretty decent stab at applying the teen horror movie formula to a gaming context. Complete with drop-in-drop-out co-op play and light-based combat, it made a pleasant change to play a Western horror game for once, after all the super-serious, arty Asian horror we'd been immersed in for years. But with a title that positively screamed 'self-fulfilling prophecy', the game slipped under the radar completely. We certainly weren't expecting a sequel.

Listen to Iron Maiden baby

But with emerging Dutch starlets Playlogic picking up the publishing duties, Hydravision has had a second chance to establish its mini-niche with another intriguing attempt at teen horror, co-op style. The game's set two years after the first one (which in itself is curious, given it's three years since the original Obscure...), with life seemingly back to normal after a mysterious plant wreaks havoc with the populace of a high school and kills almost everyone within it. But clearly that wasn't the end of it, with another bunch of teenage dirtbags finding themselves trapped in a living nightmare thanks to trendy new 'drug' that takes them on the kind of trip they wished they hadn't embarked on.

A real water cooler moment.

The game kicks off fairly innocuous fashion with Corey and Mei bantering about the upcoming party in a nearby college dorm. Full of typical teenage bravado, they end up a few doors down ready to ''get pissed' and 'hang out' with their 'buds'. Pretty much straight away, though, they both end up wishing they had listened to those boring old grown ups who warned them about substance experimentation. After taking what they thought was nothing more than a herb, they end up in a Silent Hill-esque void, with warped limbless torsos writhing menacingly, grainy monochrome visuals and crazed, indefinable creatures thirsting for their blood.

The next thing you know, you're back in the 'real world' with a blinding headache, back in the room where you started. Corey stumbles over to Mei's room, grabs an energy drink along the way, and finds her stricken on her bedroom floor, feeling much the same as him. Clearly something's gone very wrong somewhere. And via a process of short, sharp chapters, you discover that whatever's invaded your nightmares is, in fact, quite real, and killing everyone one by one.

Day of the Triffids

Without going into too much detail, suffice to say those 'orrible plants are at it again, and once again you have to work together with your college buddies to solve the mysteries of this unfathomable, deadly curse that's making them all too horny for their own good. As with the 2004 original, each character has their own particular speciality - which, in essence, means they can access bits of the environment that others can't. For example, Corey's acrobatic abilities make it possible to leap up to otherwise inaccessible areas, while the burly Sven can shift objects around that are too heavy for anyone else.