Observer: System Redux Review (PS5)
Observer is a psychological horror video game played from a first-person perspective. The player controls Daniel Lazarski, a Krakowian detective of the Observers police unit. He can hack people’s brain implants with a device known as the Dream Eater, for interrogation purposes. Equipped with augmented vision split into Electromagnetic Vision—which scans for electronic devices—and Bio Vision—which scans for biological evidence —he can analyze and highlight certain objects in his environment. Objects can be interacted with and examined, while dialogue trees are used for speaking with non-player characters. Nanophage cards, patient records, radio-controlled cars, and roses serve as collectibles. A mini-game called With Fire and Sword: Spiders is accessed through computer terminals, which can also read documents.
Observer is set in 2084 Krakow, Poland after the nanophage, a “digital plague” that cost the lives of thousands, resulting in war and rampant drug use. After Chiron, a megacorporation took control of Poland and manifested the Fifth Polish Republic, a police unit known as Observers was put in control of the denizens with a license to hack their minds. Drug and hologram addicts were made Class C and cast off to live in tenement buildings known as the stacks.
The game kicks off with you getting a call from your estranged son Adam asking for help, which you head off to the stacks to aid however you can. There you quickly learn that things are not what they seem. You end up locked in the stacks due to a lockdown, and someone or something is murdering its tenants. It’s up to you to use your skills and abilities to figure out what is happening to Adam.
A game like this is a little hard to review without getting into the story elements, but I will not spoil any details here. The story is really what is driving this game forward as it’s largely a walking simulator with some detective work and a few stealth sequences. Almost the entire game takes place in the one apartment complex, which is pretty sprawling, to be honest. Filled with multiple floors, basements, nooks, and crannies to explore. It’s very easy to lose track of where you are and what you are doing. The apartments are basically a run-down version of apartments you’d see in any major city except for the cables, and wires everywhere. Due to the lockdown in-game, you can’t actually go inside many of the rooms but only communicate with the tenant via their screen on the door. But overall the game just gives you a sense of dread and uneasiness. Due to the nature of the building, a lot of it feels claustrophobic and with the use of the dual sense and 3D Audio the place literally comes alive and you hear every creak and feel every step as your traverse.
The detective work involved in the game is done in a few ways, to help you locate any electronic devices, including implants you use Electromagnetic vision to help find and use them. Bio Vision to look at blood, fluids, wounds, etc. And then lastly if you want to go in deeper you can jack into the other people’s brains which always ends up putting you in a crazy and unnerving alternate reality of their mind. The controls are pretty simple and easy enough to use, but one of the biggest drawbacks is the game doesn’t do much to tell you where to go or guide you even in what you are supposed to be doing, so there was some time wasted exploring for no reason on my part. Which did lead to a few cool side quests, but in this type of game, felt weird.
Visually the game looks fantastic and has a very cool vibe to it, that honestly felt more Cyberpunk, than well….. Cyberpunk (2077). There isn’t much hope in humanity during this game and the atmosphere certainly fits it. There are those oh-so-familiar neon lights and technology but all you see in this game is run down and decrepit which adds to the sense of dread throughout the game.
While not a hard game, it only took me around 7 hours to complete, you can easily get lost or confused as to what the objective is. The biggest flaw is the ending of the story for me, and I want to specify it was FOR ME. Others may enjoy it and the story kept me interested and going but the end let me down. There are multiple endings, so I checked those out to see if a different one would have satisfied me more, but it wouldn’t. Overall a great game, that is well done and shows what the Blooper Team can really do. So don’t let that discourage you from checking this out.