by Henry Stockdale
reviewed on PC
It’s a good time to be a beat ‘em ups fan right now. We’ve seen the Yakuza Remastered Collection and Streets of Rage 4 finally releasing, but Error 404 Game Studios are bringing us Obey Me on the indie front. Marking their debut title, you play as Vanessa Held, a demon soul huntress accompanied by her hellhound companion Monty both embroiled in a demon war. Obey Me is a stylish 3D brawler that proves quite enjoyable but gets let down by its story.
Set amidst a war between Heaven and Hell, humanity’s souls are at stake and we find Vanessa under Lord Ammon’s employment. Tasking this lowly huntress to track down a traitor known as Ors, Ammon wishes to end his rebellion within the city’s slums. Setting off with Monty, Vanessa fights her way through no end of corrupted mutants and hell-fiends alike. It quickly becomes clear however that a wider conspiracy is afoot, one Lord Ammon is keen to keep quiet from his demonic siblings.
Initially, you can only play a solo campaign, which is split between chapters, but you’ll quickly unlock local two-player co-op, making Monty a playable character. Co-op is undoubtedly a highlight of Obey Me, creating an interesting team dynamic between this demonic duo. There are three difficulties available, which for struggling players can be changed mid-campaign. Some achievements are locked on lower settings however and reduce your highest obtainable chapter ranking, so there’s a trade-off here.
Beat ‘Em All
In terms of combat, you’ll begin with a blade but unlock further weapons as you proceed, catering to different playstyles. Alongside a standard attack, Vanessa can warp to dodge attacks and utilise a weapon trick, such as throwable daggers. These tricks change depending on your equipped weapon and require a cooldown, so they can’t be spammed but she’s got a good variety of options. In single player, Monty’s AI will assist you during battle but within co-op, player two will be able to dash, use heavy attacks against enemies and launch fire orbs, which Vanessa can strike to launch against them.
Alongside their standard health bar, each enemy also has a spirit gauge, which can be overloaded by continuous attacks from Vanessa. Once filled, Monty is then able to use a trigger action, which proves advantageous as it releases spirit energy, damages them and can also inflict negative status effects, such as staggering them. Collect enough spirit energy and this demonic duo can fuse together, allowing them to deal more damage, regenerate health and use a new ranged attack. The spirit gauge is split up, so upon collecting three bars of spirit, they can instead launch a devastating fusion attack with significant area of effect damage.
As battles proceed, individual fights are ranked and this is based upon time taken, damage sustained and an efficiency meter, which increases by x0.1 with every enemy death. To keep it active, Vanessa must keep landing combo attacks where upon finishing combat, you’ll get ranked. Chapters implement this same scoring system upon reaching their end and it’s a good way to encourage replayability for high-score chasers.
A Little Bit Moody
Error 404 have done well here in terms of gameplay, but undeniably its biggest problem lies within Obey Me’s writing. Vanessa is needlessly abrasive and whilst it can’t be fun dealing with demonic hordes, she’s very edgy, always in a mood and it quickly becomes tiring. By comparison, Monty is a lot more carefree and likes joking around, but their shared dialogue often felt quite forced, never feeling natural and it’s the same when conversing with other characters.
Otherwise, combat is mostly satisfying but if you’re playing solo, you’ll find this quickly drags out in longer playthroughs. You can unlock different character skins for Vanessa and Monty, requiring you to meet different criteria like finishing the campaign which further boosts replayability. It boasts some nice artwork, backed up by an atmospheric soundtrack that fits the game’s darker tone but in-game, it’s 3D graphics aren’t particularly exciting.
Upon defeating enemies, they’ll release soul cores, which are used to upgrade each character’s abilities via a skill tree upon collecting enough. Trees aren’t particularly expansive but assist in expanding upon preferred playstyles. Occasionally, you’ll find larger crystals across the map, white crystals providing a large stash of soul cores and red crystals recovering health instead. It pays to explore, as doing so leads to finding purified astral crystals and collecting three permanently upgrades Vanessa’s health. You can also uncover notes from Professor Crowley, adding to your codex and expanding upon Obey Me’s lore.
The Night is Dark and Full of Demons
Obey Me is a solid debut from Error 404 Game Studios. It certainly has its flaws with its script and playthroughs can become repetitive, but there’s a lot to enjoy here. Combat is satisfying, its darker aesthetic works well and holds a lot of replay value, though it’s a game best experienced in smaller playthroughs. If you can get around its flaws, brawler fans will find a lot to like here and if you can play with a friend, it comes recommended.
Satisfying combat, Co-op works well, pleasing visuals
Unnecessarily edgy, poorly written story, repetitive in larger playthroughs