Everyone can agree that brawler games have come back into popularity. With each new title dropped brings up the question, what did they do to get this genre right? What was added to create a new unique feel? This is why when given the chance to check out Obey Me from developer Error 404 Game Studios and publisher Blowfish Studios I jumped in feet first. I had really high hopes but slowly as the hours ticked away I realized it just didn’t meet up to the standards of others before it. In the end I was left with a long list of things I wish had been done better rather than singing the praises.
Be mindful that that down below there will be more spoilers than annoyingly angsty one-liners from Vanessa.
They Make it so Hard to Like Their Main Protagonist
Obey Me‘s storyline is actually one I tend to find very enjoyable in games. The major battle between Heaven and Hell is meant to be a backdrop to the main protagonist’s own story within. Vanessa Held is a low tier Soul Huntress who is sent on a mission with her Hellhound companion Monty. Through their actions, it is implied that this duo can help swing the battle into their Master’s favor. We are all here for a badass female main protagonist but in the end Vanessa just becomes a teen with an attitude problem. It is nearly impossible to take her seriously or even like her.
It is completely possible to do an angsty teen that people like. Just look at Chloe Price from Life is Strange. But where Chloe had Max to balance her out, Vanessa just has Monty. Her Hellhound companion isn’t as bad as Vanessa but definitely doesn’t do anything to make things better. He is mostly used as a way to add comic relief to the game but the jokes fall flat in the end. My dislike for Vanessa and Monty led to skipping over cutscenes or ignoring conversations they had. In the end, the two of them alone nearly ruined the entire game for me.
Rough Gameplay Was Almost Decent Enough
Now it is possible to ignore bad storytelling for just base gameplay but in Obey Me‘s case, even that was rough. The first few fights felt alright but the more abilities you pack on the worse it got. This is a real shame as the weapons and abilities are well thought out and had such a wide variety. My biggest complaint is the inability to cancel your own moves in order to dodge enemy attacks. This alone led to just as much frustration I felt every time Vanessa opened her mouth. I actually spent a good half hour testing out abilities and timing how long they took. Then in fights I would focus more on short duration attack combos in case I needed a moment to dodge.
The other frustration came in the form of Monty. One mechanic that had me intrigued from the beginning is that Obey Me features a local co-op option. One player takes control of Vanessa and the other Monty. Cool right? That is until you realized just how underrated Monty really is. Anytime I would try and convince my son to play alongside me as Monty after our first playthrough he would just downright refuse. There isn’t enough to his ability kit to make playing him enjoyable. Instead, you are left spamming the same few abilities while Vanessa has more than enough. The good thing is that playing solo is completely possible.
General Lack of Guidance
A game doesn’t need to hold a player’s hand the entire time, but general guidance and cues are always a good thing to have. Obey Me started off well with this but then about a quarter of the way in it fell apart. Thankfully leveling abilities and their usage was pretty straightforward. The lackluster part comes in the form of preparing the player for enemies within the level. Every once in awhile Monty would spout some words of knowledge that somewhat helped explain an enemy’s ability or what to watch out for. The rest of the time it was just left up to random guessing.
This partnered with issues in animation and audio made fights more frustrating than they needed to be. Audio cues are so important in games where you don’t have the best view of abilities being used. I thought at one point it was a frame rate issue when I had a problem with a particular boss who would use an ability and the audio would come well after he was already done. But after finally finishing the boss fight I realized it was something wrong with almost every enemy. Throw in packs of multiple mobs with every single fight and you can really understand why this got really frustrating in the end.
When all was said and done and Obey Me finally came to an end I didn’t feel the satisfaction I normally do. There wasn’t even the ‘finally it is over’ feeling. Just disappointment that I would never get those seven hours back. Not to mention by the time the credits rolled I still had no idea what the story was really about as I had skipped so much just to ignore the bantering of Vanessa and Monty. Normally I would say that if you could ignore the storyline and just focus on gameplay to give this a try, but I honestly can’t recommend the game in the state that it is in. I suggest waiting a few months for updates to start rolling out before checking it out.