Obey Me Review- Devil Without A Cause
Developed by Error 404 Games Studios
Published by Blowfish Studios
Available on Nintendo Switch, PS4, Xbox One, Steam
I have a few things I value most in games. Other people may disagree, but the most important aspects are a tie between gameplay and story. I can love a game with a terrible story if its fun to play, such as Call of Duty. And I can love a game with an incredible story in spite of its shit gameplay, such as Mass Effect. Once in a blue moon, you get one that has both, like Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance. In the case of Obey Me, this is unfortunately neither.
In Obey Me you play as Vanessa and Monty, a half-demon lady and her hellhound partner. You are tasked by a wealthy businessman named Ammon who is obviously a demon (and not just because he works in finance) to perform various missions in an attempt to win the demon war. Heaven and Hell are at odds, as per usual, and it seems that Ammon is keen to usurp Satan from his throne in order to do uhh demon stuff. Ammon has such an interest in you because you are capable of being a vessel for souls, and can use them to grow in power. I don’t know. The plot is not very important. It’s there to give you cause to fight, and there are no twists or turns that you would not immediately suspect already.
The writing for Obey Me is very much a weakness.The dialogue between Vanessa and Monty is weird at best. The same jokes are reused over and over and over again. Vanessa, a very angry woman, is always talking about how angry she is and how she doesn’t want to ruin her boots (granted, she does appear to be wearing a pair of Timberlands, so I can’t fault her for that). Monty, a not very serious dog, is always talking about how hungry he is, and how he wants to eat the gross demon viscera. It’s like the writers for Obey Me thought “Okay, what do women like? Buying shoes, obviously. And dogs like to eat. So there we go.” These are about as in depth as we get for character development.
And though I mostly credit it to the unfortunate writing, I can’t help but feel that the voice acting for Obey Me was not done as well as it could have been. Vanessa’s voice seems to have one tone, that of someone who is very agitated, and never seems to deviate. I suppose you could rationalize that it’s just the character’s personality, but all the same it makes the jokes seem less funny. Monty’s voice seemed out of place as well. The voice actor sounded a lot like Seth Rogan, which doesn’t seem to fit the character for a demon from Hell, even if that demon is a Doberman Pinscher. But like I said, with better writing, I would have had no problem with the voice.
I can handle the unfortunate “women be shopping” dialogue. In fact, I’m willing to accept that maybe it was all bad localization. But there’s more to it than that. The pacing in the cutscenes for Obey Me really do a number on the game as well. The not very witty banter between Vanessa and Monty goes on way too long. On top of that, they frequently interrupt the actual story content of their conversations, the interesting parts, to continue the banter, which I found frustrating.
Pacing is a recurrent problem with Obey Me. The gameplay cycle is not ideal either. Obey Me is a top down beat-em-up, where you fight through labyrinthine areas in order to get to the end of the level. This boils down to running down corridors before getting locked in a room and fighting off various enemies. I may prefer the Diablo style of fighting unmoored to one area, but this style is not inherently bad either. That said, the gameplay flow for Obey Me is certainly weird. I can’t quite put my finger on why, but it is definitely impacted by the hallway sequences in between the fights.
The corridors in Obey Me all have weird traps laid out. The first level has large tumorous growths that bounce you off like a pinball machine, the second level has a similar obstacle that both bounces and damages you. There are explosive mines in many areas, and some places have floor spikes as well. The mechanics don’t really work well for trap dodging, and I frequently found myself too slow to make it work. Vanessa’s movement was not fast enough, and her teleport dodge move only shifts her like four feet away. This one isn’t a huge gripe, but the mechanics felt a little too awkward for this kind of gameplay.
Really the biggest issue I had is with the combat mechanics. Obey Me is a brawler, a genre I really love. But one of the things that is necessary for this style of game is mobility. Obey Me has very slow and awkward combat. Attacks can’t be cancelled and they rarely stun enemies, so you are often left vulnerable to unstaggered enemies. Even the starting weapon, a glowy blue dagger, is still very sluggish. Doubly so for the second weapon, a large tumor covered hammer. Even the fastest weapon I found, the powerfists, seemed to have an attack that lasted just a half second too long. The weapons can be upgraded and can unlock new combos, but I found that most of them weren’t that useful.
The weapons have a similar output of damage, the main variance being the secondary attack they have. Blue dagger lets you throw ethereal daggers, gunk hammer lets you summon little gunk friends, sword and shield has a shield, etc. You can swap between them with ease as you fight, supposedly to get better combos, but in practice it was not seamless enough a transition to make it work. On top of that, combos for many of the weapons require a strong attack. Strong attacks can only be done by holding down the attack button, and render you completely immobile. But getting hit in that state will stagger you, so I rarely was able to pull them off well. Increased movement and attack speed and the ability to cancel an attack with a dodge would do wonders for this game. Obey Me could have been a top down Bayonetta. There is a lot of potential here, and unfortunately it does not reach it.
Really, that’s all that can be said for Obey Me. It didn’t reach its full potential. All the ingredients for a cool game are here, and yet, each of these aspects is lacking in some regard. I could probably forgive one or two, but all together, the game is just a bad experience. I really wish the devs the best of luck because this was clearly a game made with love, but somewhere along the line, bad decisions happened that was this game’s undoing.
What can one say? I will not obey
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