Developer Interview: Hydravision Entertainment – Obscure (XB, PS2, PC)

Publisher: DreamCatcher / Developer: Hydravision / Genre: Survival Horror / Release: 03-29-05
No one has made a Teen Slasher Survival Horror video game in a very long time. But thatâ┚¬â”žÂ¢s all changed with the release Hydravisionâ┚¬â”žÂ¢s Obscure for Xbox, PS2, and the PC. Having enjoyed success in the European market, itâ┚¬â”žÂ¢s hitting North America courtesy of publisher Dreamcatcher. Inside Pulseâ┚¬â”žÂ¢s Geli Warner recently had the chance to chat with Hydravision Entertainment about their latest unquie take on the Survival Horror genre.

Geli Warner: Obscure derives its theme from teen horror flicks and slasher movies such as â┚¬Å”Screamâ┚¬Â, â┚¬Å”Buffyâ┚¬Â and â┚¬Å”The Facultyâ┚¬Â. What made you decide to pick this particular type of survival horror?

Hydravision Entertainment: First of all, we loved these films and series where we can see teenagers hunted, ripped, and decimated. This choice truly made the unanimity within the team as much for the universe that pleased us as for the different elements that inspired us at once, such as the typical situations, the stereotypical characters, and the backgrounds.

Besides, we especially did not want to make a clone of what already exists. This theme stuck very well to our will to create a game having its own identity through the multiplayer mode on one hand, but especially by its teen-movie side, which is original for a survival.

GW: Effectively managing and keeping all your players alive is an important part of the game’s team-based system. Word has it that if all five of your party members survive you get a nice bonus. Are there any other little Easter eggs that you can hint at for us?

HE: In Obscure, you manage a group of five students you can play with and make them survive all along the adventure with more or less losses. Each one has his own nature, background, and specialty. A thug can lockpick, a quarterback runs faster, there is the clever one, the little sexy nurse, and the cheerleader chief is a gunfight pro!

You can finish the game while having saved one person, but you can also finish it while having saved the whole group. The bonuses you win at the end of the game, such as additional weapons, a making-of video clip by Sum 41, and new clothes all depend on how many characters you managed to save in the end. Many players start the adventure all over again to win all the bonuses!

At last, according to the playerâ┚¬â”žÂ¢s actions, certain events donâ┚¬â”žÂ¢t always happen in the same way. For example, one of the enigmas can be solved partially causing the death of a member of the group, while if it is solved completely, no character dies.

GW: Many of the monsters shrink away from the light. What are some other weapons that players can create from items found in their environment?

HE: Enemies are surrounded by a dark aura, which is a sort of shield. Dark aura is sensitive to intense light and dispelling the creaturesâ┚¬â”žÂ¢ black aura can also weaken them or repel them. During day, you can kill the creatures by using an element of the game, daylight, by breaking a window near them. But itâ┚¬â”žÂ¢s not always so easy after dusk.

If elements of the background are used during a fight, they are not useable anymore as that has been thought of from the beginning of the project. However, these background elements remain, nevertheless, and can be used during the enigmas, for example a piece of furniture that you can make fall against a wall to open a door way.

In fact, we decided to orient Obscure towards a more action type game and for that, nothing is more efficient when you are facing a monster than to burst it with a shotgun while using a light source especially at night.

So, torch lights can be used to fight: they have a boosting mode, which amplifies their effect upon this aura. Doom 3 players will also enjoy gluing lights on their guns.

GW: Because you’re trapped within a school, the availability of guns would normally be limited or non-existent. While the game does feature guns in some capacity, how hard was it thinking of other ways to combat Obscure’s deadly armada of creatures without always heavily relying on firearms?

HE: Yes, normally guns are limited at school, but to tell the truth, it would have been very difficult not to use weapons while keeping this fun. Especially knowing that we wanted more action than in other survival horror titles. Even in some puzzles, we added combat.

Indeed, we have worked as much as we could on a realistic aspect so that the player is immersed into the game while accumulating weapons within places suited for them, even for a school, safe, and superâ┚¬â”žÂ¢s lodge. These weapons are always confined before you find them; therefore, they are not available at first for the students who calmly come to class. But as in the movies of this genre, when the situation slips and the students are chased, they are inevitably brought to get to the same safe or the superâ┚¬â”žÂ¢s lodge, for the playerâ┚¬â”žÂ¢s biggest relief survival!

Besides, the entirety of the game does not necessarily happen in class rooms, and it is up to you to discover Leafmore Highâ┚¬â”žÂ¢s other faÃÆ’§ade!

GW: We know that a second player can enter or exit the game to assist the first player. Can you go into more detail about the co-op mode?

HE: The co-op feature is a double feature. First of all, at any time you can switch between five characters at your disposal, by coming back to the meeting room. Each one has its own clothing, moves, hits, and way of speaking, and you can make your choice regarding these style features, or regarding their special abilities as well. You can also take another character, that will follow the character you control and help you in fights, in exploration or in enigmas.
At any time, you can switch between both of them if you want to control the other one and make the first one follow you.
But most of all, you can ask a friend to control your teammate, by entering the game at the point you reached at that moment. The screen is not split, and if you get lost, simply press a button to make the camera point on you. This is a simple and intuitive way to experience team play.
What many players appreciate, for example, is to be able to start a game alone and at any moment to continue this same game in co-op.

The multiplayer mode really is plug and play. You only need a second PAD, to connect it and to press a key. In the multiplayer mode, every player controls his own character, and as soon as the second player decides to quit the game, the AI resumes control of this character.

Weâ┚¬â”žÂ¢ve noticed the players donâ┚¬â”žÂ¢t react the same way when they play solo or in co-operative. In solo, they are really playing a survival game, focusing on the adventure. In co-op, they react exactly as the heroes in the horror films: “No, donâ┚¬â”žÂ¢t go out, youâ┚¬â”žÂ¢ll get caught!”; “Give me a torch light, quick!”; “Step back, step back!”; “Give me some munitions, munitions!”.

GW: Obscure has already been compared to the Resident Evil series. How do you feel about that description and is it accurate?

HE: Obscure is a survival horror game, like Resident Evil, and players of one game will without a doubt like to play the other.

This said, both universes are very different and what makes Obscure stand out is its teen aspect, very dynamic and quite unexpected in a survival.

WeÃÆ'”šÃ‚ created a fluid and spontaneous gameplay, based on the unexplored universe of teen horror games, and this feeling is quite new in a genre of complex enigmas and slow moves.
We loved Resident Evil and Silent Hill, but we wanted something more. Obscure has therefore taken a more action aspect than its competitors.

The movements are quicker, and the enigmas are less complex. I would say it is more spontaneous.

Besides, Obscure speaks to a wider audience thanks to this dynamic aspect and especially the multiplayer mode, which had an unexpected consequence to our surprise. Many players who had experienced playing with their girlfriend or their younger brother to guide them throughout the game, ended up having their game squatted.

GW: We know a little about the five teenage characters; can you tell us a little bit more about their teachers?

HE: In order not to unveil anything, letâ┚¬â”žÂ¢s sayâ┚¬Â¦Ã¢â”šÂ¬Ã…”They teach you things you never wanted to know aboutâ┚¬Â â┚¬Â¦ or â┚¬Å”donâ┚¬â”žÂ¢t trust anybodyâ┚¬Â

GW: Do you anticipate a sequel to this game or a strong following by other developers to break into this genre of the â┚¬Å”teen survival horror movieâ┚¬Â game?

HE: A lot of people asked us about a sequel, and itâ┚¬â”žÂ¢s really our favorite question because you never ask for a second part of dessert if you didnâ┚¬â”žÂ¢t like it. It shows us that we have created something new and weâ┚¬â”žÂ¢ve thought a lot about a sequel but we canâ┚¬â”žÂ¢t tell you anything for the moment.

GW: What is the team most proud of with the game’s finished product? And what would you have liked to include but got sent to the cutting room floor?

HE: An English magazine, PSM2, described Obscure as “The game Silent Hilll should have been”, we didnâ┚¬â”žÂ¢t ask for as much! We are very proud of the success Obscure has encountered in Europe. We improved the US version, according to the last reactions from the US press and from DreamCatcher; now we are impatiently waiting for reactions from the US market. Our only regret is that the GameCube version has not been planned. However for a first game being on PC, PS2 and Xbox, with voices in five languages and SUM41 in the soundtrack, we have everything to be proud of, of ourselves!

GW: Currently youâ┚¬â”žÂ¢re in development of a â┚¬Å”mystery gameâ┚¬Â known only now as your â┚¬Å”Project IIâ┚¬Â according to Hydravisionâ┚¬â”žÂ¢s official site. Can you hint at any details as to the genre or even the generation of consoles this newly planned project will show up on?

HE: Following the success of Obscure in Europe, we decided to specialize ourselves in the adventure-action genre, which naturally includes survival horror and possible Obscure 2. But it is still too early to unveil this project, letâ┚¬â”žÂ¢s just say that it is a big multi-platform project like Obscure.

GW: Thank you for your time.

Stay tuned for Inside Pulseâ┚¬â”žÂ¢s upcoming Full Review of Obscure, but in the meantime anyone who likes horror games really needs to pick this up. It looks good, the story is good considering the genre, and you have actual two player action in this game. This has all the earmarks of a sleeper hit/cult classic, and we hope you get the chance to play it when it first comes out.