Observer | Bloober Team
Upon close observation.
by Oscar Portillo
I have had my eye on Observer since I heard about it in the summer of 2017. Developed by Bloober Team, Observer released back on August 2017 for PS4, Xbox One and Windows. Part C.S.I., part Blade Runner with a sprinkle of Silent Hill, Observer seemed like a game that was right up my ally. Does Observer deliver on those aspects, or does it ultimately fail? Please read and Observe the following review.
I will start off right away and say Observer is essentially Blade Runner the game. You are Daniel Lazarski (voiced by Rutger Hauer) a detective in 2084 Krakow, Poland. You start off the game receiving a call from your estranged son, and you trace the call to an apartment building. A murder takes place, locking down the entire building. More killings happen and it is up to you to figure out who the serial killer is while tracking down the whereabouts of your son. The main tools you will use, are two different versions of the detective mode pretty much ripped from the Batman games. The first tool is the ability to hack into locked doors. The second tool is a connection feature giving you the ability to "jack" into the minds of the victims. There is no combat and no open world to explore, this is strictly a Point A to Point B experience folks.
The world of Observer is dark and grimy. As with any cyberpunk game, it is always night time and it is always raining. There is a lot of detail that went into creating the building and its corridors. You would think walking inside of a building for an entire game might get boring but there is enough variety here to push you forward. Another facet to the building is its unseen inhabitants. Every door has an intercom system but this doesn't mean that everyone will respond to you, this adds to the dark and grimy setting of Observer. Most will interact with you via a dialog tree. The people in question are diverse and interesting. While this actually does not advance the story, it adds life to the crumbling but detailed building. As the player you want to talk to everyone just to hear what crazy or mundane story they have. Rutger Hauer does his job really well here. Lazarski you sense has seen some stuff in his day while even talking to himself at times piecing together clues. Adding that nior feeling to the game.
Observer | Bloober Team
Using the detective modes, Lazarski investigates murder scenes within the building unlocking clues about the victims. The player scans body parts or blood by holding L2 or R2. I did not mind the detective mode portions, but I did wonder why we needed two different versions of the same mechanic. Leaving me to wonder which one I should be using. Not the biggest gripe but a gripe nonetheless. If the
detective mode does not work. Lazarski then has to "Jack" into someones brain via what looks like an aux cable called a dream eater. He then plugs in the cable into the brain of the victim.
This is where Observer truly shines. The mind of the victims are pieced by hallucinations or seemingly entire fantasy levels. This is where the horror aspect of Observer shows itself. The scares are not that amazing but it is the overall cyberpunk setting with not knowing what is going to happen next. There is a lot of psychedelic images or teleportation. There is even a little bit of a 4th wall break that I personally always enjoy. Some of these sequences involve traumatic experiences from the victims point of view. Or just silly things that really make you wonder what kind of game is this? The least enticing aspect of these parts is where you need to avoid a roaming enemy in an office and a corn field. The player has a run button and crouch but the game is not made for any type of stealth missions.
With all that said the game is not perfect. Observer seems to suffer from its own weight. With all the detail I praised about earlier. The game at certain times starts to really slow down frame rate wise. And I cannot help but to think this is because of all of the detail within the world. The game twice also crashed on me. Luckily I did not lose any progress or save data. And also while the story is interesting the ending is quite predictable and it kind of just ends abruptly. My time with Observer was good and I do not regret finishing it. It is tough to recommend this to a casual gamer or if you're regular Joe schmo, it is to niche for its own good. That being said if you enjoy the genre than by all means pick this up. Other than that we do recommend to give this game a Try.
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