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Obitus (PC) artwork

Obitus (PC) review


"A-MAZE-ingly bad."


Obitus (PC) image


Obitus is an RPG of sorts, made by Psygnosis back in ye olde 1991. I actually owned a copy of this game, and for the life of me I can't remember why. The box art had a strange-looking alien eagle on it, which really wasn't much of a hook. I think I might've bought it because I just happened to tagging along with my brother when he went to the game shop and I didn't want to leave empty-handed, so I just picked up any old thing. Such random acquisitions can be risky, however, and in the case of Obitus I certainly paid the price in boredom, tedium, and frustration. To say that this is a bad game is a bit of an understatement. There are many reasons why this game is lacking, and as you will soon see, they will comprise the main body of this review.

First things first though, let me tell you what this game is about. You play as some modern-day schmuck from Wales whose car breaks down during a thunderstorm. You decide to take shelter within the ruins of a crumbling old tower, only to find that you are somehow locked inside. You fall asleep, and when you wake up you find a key that has been placed surreptitiously on the floor. You use it to escape the tower and, to your shock, you are no longer in Wales, but in an ancient realm from long ago! Also, there's magic and wizards and stuff.

Obitus (PC) image


Anyway. The flimsy premise aside, the majority of this game is spent navigating mazes. This would be fine if they were done well, but unfortunately they are not. No, these mazes are the most boring, tedious and confusing things in the world. They are presented in first-person, but lack proper three dimensional perspective, so when you turn, the next wall or corridor simply slides into view without any change to the perspective at all. Since every chamber in Obitus is octagonal instead of square, you always end up staring at a flat wall or a straight corridor with no other reference points that could help you get your bearings. The effect is very strange; it almost feels like the entire game is presented to you upon a two-dimensional roll of film. This is incredibly disorienting. In fact, it is utterly impossible to find your way through the mazes on sight and intuition alone.

This is one of those games where you are encouraged to make your own maps on graph paper. In fact, you must do this if you want to have a hope of progressing through the game at all. As far as I'm concerned, there's no excuse for this. Games like Wizardry and The Bard's Tale implemented 3D perspective years before this game was released, and Obitus' willful decision to discard this convention is a step backward for the genre in every way.

Regardless, even if you are the kind of person who likes making his own maps, you will still find yourself bored to tears with Obitus. Occasionally you will find an object lying on the ground or a monster to fight, but really there is very little of this. The few monsters that you do encounter are dispatched easily by walking up to them and clicking the mouse button repeatedly, shooting your arrows at them until they're dead. As long as you have enough health and ammo, you will probably win. If not, you can simply retreat and come back later, as all of the monsters in this game are completely stationary and will not pursue you.

Obitus (PC) image


The NPCs are similarly lacking. They usually impart a few lines of pretentious olde English at you before disappearing, leaving you to scratch your head as you try to figure out what the storyline is supposed to be about. Sometimes they also give you an item before they go, because of reasons. Usually these are puzzle items that must be used at specific points within the game, but unfortunately there are no item descriptions, so it's anyone's guess as to when they are used and why. Good luck figuring it out!

Aside from these encounters, there is not much else to discuss about the mazes; you will simply spend most of your time traversing bland, featureless corridors until you finally reach an exit. Then, and only then, does Obitus become slightly more interesting because - surprise! - it actually has two other game modes.

The first is a side-scrolling "parallax" action mode where you run in a single direction and shoot arrows at enemies. There's nothing wrong with these sequences mechanically, although they can be a little dull. You can run, jump, and duck, and that's about it. They do have nice music, at least.

Obitus (PC) image


Then there's the "interior" sequences, where you explore important locations such as castles. These sequences are structured a bit like point-and-click adventure games, except that they still have an element of combat to them. There are also traps to watch out for, as well as more NPCs to interact with. These sequences are actually quite well done, although they do have their share of problems, too. Namely, glitchy hitboxes on the traps and some occasional unresponsiveness when trying to use your inventory items on things in the environment (for example, keys that fail to unlock a door despite being the right key).

These mildly entertaining sequences are brief though, and once you're done with them you're back to the mazes again. As aforementioned, most of the game is spent within these damn things, and it makes me wonder why the developers didn't design the majority of the game around the other sequences that were actually somewhat enjoyable. I suspect that it probably has something to do with the fact that it takes far less effort to code a highly repetitive game element (like a maze) than it does to create unique assets like the ones used in the interior and parallax sequences.

Cutting corners like this really hurt Obitus, though. The main attraction of this game seems to be the mazes, but they're just plain awful. It also doesn't help that the developers decided to pick the worst possible music track to play during every single one of these sequences. Seriously. The pedantic, annoying loop is about as fun to listen to as your teeth being cleaned at the dentist's office.

Obitus (PC) image


So why did I decide to review such a lackluster, forgettable title? Well, I've already reviewed quite a few PC hits from the 90s already, and I figured it would only be fair to point out that there was plenty of crap released back then, too.

If you're interested in playing this game, it can be easily found on abandonware sites, or it can be played for free on the web at archive.org. I can't imagine why you would want to, though. You have been warned.

1/5

Nightfire's avatar
Featured community review by Nightfire (June 09, 2016)

Nightfire is a reclusive dragon who lives in a cave with internet access. Steam ID here.

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Nightfire posted June 09, 2016:

Good gravy, I actually found a .PDF of the manual for this game. I highly doubt anyone will want to play it, but in the off chance that anyone out there wants to see this thing for themselves, the manual is pretty much indispensable.
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overdrive posted June 10, 2016:

I vaguely remember this game being ported to the SNES via Nintendo Power, but for some reason, I never had any real urge to play it, even though I've tended to be a junkie for RPG games (or games with RPG elements, even). Looks like those instincts might have been right after reading this.
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Nightfire posted June 10, 2016:

Yes, it was available on SNES. The versions have some minor differences but they are basically the same in most respects. I can assure you that your instincts were definitely correct.

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