May 27, 2015 10:56 PM | Sean Flint
For the past few months, I've been a member of one of the best multiplayer communities out there in OBEY. Almost every night I am kept up late by the intense and strategic matches that continuously pull me in for "just one more". It is a game of deception, yet requires much more than just lies if you want to be successful. Simply put, OBEY is one of, if not the best, multiplayer games I've ever had the pleasure of experiencing, and the reasons behind this are clearly detailed in this review.
OBEY was initially introduced to me by sole developer Dan Dez, who has over a decade of industry experience. Attempting to step out on his own and create the game that he has always dreamed of led to the development of OBEY, which features deeply political influences in terms of its design. Upon meeting Dez, I learned that not only is he an extremely personable and professional person, but one of the most dedicated and hard-working individuals I've ever had the pleasure of speaking with. My first game of OBEY was guided by Dez himself, who showed me the ropes and explained some of the finer mechanics in great detail. Ever since that very first game I knew that OBEY was not just a multiplayer game, it was a genre-defining experience that was not comparable to anything else I had ever played.
The main goal in OBEY is to gain control of the gigantic dictator-like robot on the map, which you can then use to attempt to convince other players (which will be referred to as bunnies from here on out, as that is what they are in-game) to listen to your orders. The victor is determined by whoever reaches the server-set currency value first, thus it is constantly a race to earn as much money as possible. The robot can purchase goods, but cannot deliver them to his or herself, meaning that he or she must use the bunnies as a delivery service of sorts. The bunnies have the option of whether or not to deliver the goods, which means that you must constantly keep them happy if you are in control of the robot to ensure that the goods are delivered.
Getting bunnies to obey may sound like a simple task, but it is actually a task that provides the greatest amount of challenge in the game. Even the most benevolent leaders will have bunnies that decide to disobey, for whatever reason, which means that you must constantly be on your guard as you are in the robot.
This brings me to one of the things that gives OBEY its charm. Each match is completely unique and different, as players possess their own personalities. OBEY is a strongly player-driven experience. While there are gameplay mechanics in place that are entertaining on their own, the real experience lies in the mind games that are played from player to player. There are no names above players' heads, meaning that the player who is saying he is in one area, may actually be running up to take control of the robot from you at that very moment. Taking control of the robot is a simple as walking into the front door, however the machine gun, flamethrower, and sentries that the robot has in his or her grasp assist in defending against subversion. Balancing these weapons is the idea that all but the machine gun require ammo that must be delivered by fellow bunnies, meaning that players can directly control how much ammo the robot is or is not getting.
Describing the basic mechanics of OBEY is a very simple task. One player takes over the robot, while the remaining players choose to obey and deliver materials while making some money themselves, or to disobey and attempt to work their way across the map and take control of the robot. Killed players will respawn on the dropship, which is where the purchased goods are delivered. If the player decides to crash the ship (which any new players will quickly learn is possible), then killed bunnies will respawn randomly on the map.
Being able to understand each and every strategy and nuance of OBEY is not something that I feel can be done. The game is constantly evolving as new players come up with different and genius strategies to get players to follow their rule. I barely ever play a game where I see the same strategies come into play. Some games are ruled by vicious and cutthroat robots, while others are controlled by a more benevolent soul who chooses to distribute wealth and rule with kindness instead of fear. The great thing about OBEY is that both of these strategies, as well as everything else you can imagine, are completely viable. It is entirely possible to win the game without ever setting foot in the robot. Intelligent delivery of goods as well as the occasional request for additional tips from the robot can easily set you on the path to victory.
Finally, we come to the psychological aspect of the game, the deception. A great example of the intense mind games in OBEY is that a bunny could be waiting right at the robot's door and telling him or her to purchase goods right before they take over. This ensure that they will have a fresh supply of goods waiting them that they didn't have to pay for upon entering the robot. Fun and interesting fibs such as this really give the game some flavor, and the most crafty players come up with some crazy schemes that make each game fantastic.
OBEY is not simply a new game, it is an entirely new genre. The asymmetry combined with the player-driven gameplay make for one of the best multiplayer experiences that I have ever had on PC. Typically I'm not one for competitive multiplayer, but OBEY is the type of game that I cannot put down. Match after match, I find myself lying and laughing in an attempt to secure my place at the top of the scoreboard. Winning a game is one of the most satisfying feelings that I have ever experienced, and knowing that you did it all through dishonesty and deception makes it all the better. OBEY is not just a game that I recommend, it is a game that you must play if you have access to a PC. What you'll find is one of the most innovative and unique experiences on PC and you will become a part of the most friendly and entertaining multiplayer community out there.