A game with many problems that doesn’t bring anything new to the genre
Type: Singleplayer, Coop Multiplayer
Developer: Error 404 Game Studios
Publisher: Blowfish Studios
Release date: 21 Apr, 2020
Obey Me is an action brawler game where you impersonate Vanessa Held, a soul hunter, and her infernal hound fighting the eternal conflict between heaven and hell. In your journey you will explore a city destroyed by the war and fight hordes of enemies, eventually collecting their souls to gain more power and unlock new combos and skills. The game is playable in coop with a friend (one player controls Vanessa, the other controls her hound, Monty) or in singleplayer with the computer AI taking control of the companion.
A clunky brawler
The game can be summarized by saying that it is composed by fights interconnected by long corridors filled with traps, with a story acting as a glue. There are a total of 12 different chapters, each one taking place on a different map with its own theme and enemies: thus, the slums are an area filled with cancerous growings and monsters covered by tumours and other biological horrors, the mall gets instead an infernal theme with fire demons and so on. This makes for a sufficient variety of enemies that, unfortunately, follow the same archetypes of similar games, making them rather flat. At the end of each chapter there’s a boss fight: these, while never breaking new ground, are way better than normal encounters and are more differentiated from one another.
In order to fight the hordes of demons she has to face, Vanessa Held has a plethora of different weapons and skills, each one having its own set of skills, combos and power-ups. You start the game with a short sword and gain one new weapon at the end of some chapters (for a total of four): a giant bio-hammer capable of spawning creatures, rapid-hitting vambraces capable of harpooning the enemies and a sword and shield with special block capabilities.
Fights have two main problems: for starters, the combat mechanics feel clunky, probably due to the game not letting you cancel an action once it has started. Thus, if you are starting a blow with the hammer, a very slow weapon, you can’t dash to evade an enemy attack. This creates frustrating situations where you start spamming the dash button in order to get away from a group of enemies as soon as your current action completes. Also, there are a number of enemies with very fast attacks which force the player to run around them and wait for them to strike, before actually attacking them. The second problem is that fights tend to take place in tight places, often filled with traps, bouncers and explosive barrels. Combat sessions in these situations are often frustrating, as you have to carefully move around, evading enemy attacks, not stepping on traps and not making anything explode with your strikes, while enemies can step everywhere without getting any damage.
Combat areas are interconnected by (usually) very linear and tight corridors filled with traps. There’s very little exploration to do here and it mostly consists of small branching passages that lead to health, energy or souls pick-ups, sometimes even pieces of lore. Apart from that, the game literally consists of travelling from point A to point B without looking back. Even when outside of combat, you are not safe and you’ll have to jump over spike traps, mines, dodge laser beams and, in general, traps that get repetitive after a short while, especially since new areas add very little variety.
An hellish technical side
Obey Me has one of the poorest graphics I’ve seen in some time: for starters, even at 2K resolution with the highest graphical settings, many elements on the screen often look blurry and aliasing is all over the place, making more complex scenes look messy. A lot of different textures are low-res and many different models are made by a low number of polygons. Environments and enemies look really uninspired and are generally relegated the classic design of the category they fit in.
Other noticeable problems are an ever-present stuttering and a framerate capping that just didn’t work. The game also has some bugs and sometimes it happens that the character gets stuck between elements of the level, but it’s rare and the game never crashed or froze on me.
Obey Me isn’t a terrible game, but it has many problems and it also doesn’t make any new contribution to the genre. While this alone would be PAUSE for me, the addition of a non-optimal technical side can’t but strengthen my opinion on the game.