From the mind melting horror creators of game First Person "Layers of Fear". "The largest and most frightening world yet from Bloober Team! Lose yourself -- and your sanity -- in the dark dystopia that is 2084. >observer_ is a horror experience meant for mature audiences. What you see will disturb you."
Welcome to the world of ">Observer" a futuristic tale of a world where we have interrogated with technology to prolong our lives and better our existence. Some replace their eyes, others their legs and some augment themselves to even become a mythical beast. "The year is 2084. If you somehow survived the Nanophage, odds are you were killed in the War. Those who live have turned to drugs, VR, neural implants— anything to distract themselves from this new reality. But they can’t hide from you."
You play as Daniel Lazarski "an elite neural detective known as an Observer, and part of a corporate-funded police unit whose purpose is to hack and invade suspects’ minds. In this future, anything you think, feel, or remember can be used against you in a court of law.." For those of you older folks you might recognize the voice and the face of the game. It is none other than 80-90s action star Rutger Hauer. He's acted in many movies like "Blade Runner", "Split Second", "The Hitcher" and "Hobo With A Shotgun". He's a well known Sci Fi actor who has earned his stripes in the genre.
"When you receive a mysterious message from your estranged son, a high-level engineer for the almighty Chiron Corporation, you journey to the seedy Class C slums of Krakow to investigate. But as you hack into the unstable minds of criminals and victims to look for clues, you are forced to relive their darkest fears. How far will you go to discover the truth?"
I picked up this game on a whim on sale for $20 dollars on steam. After playing and beating this game on twitch last night. [WATCH HERE] I have not stopped thinking about it. While this may not be a game for everyone it is a surrealistic nightmare journey that will undoubtedly seep into your mind. Very much like the neural link that Lazarski interrogates minds with. You will be thrown into dreamlike/nightmarish visions throughout your play. Which, I am sure might make that a confusing "trip" for some and it's exactly that. A mind melting digital brain trip via video game with an overall onslaught to your ears, eyes and brain. "As you hack into the unstable minds of criminals and victims to look for clues, you will relive their darkest fears, forcing you to question your own reality -- and your sanity. "
The game does take some time to get started though. For those who are looking for a run and gun cyberpunk adventure this is not for you. A lot of the beginning is setting up the story and soaking yourself into the environment of a lower level apartment complex. For those who do not like to soak in lore by reading. I urge you to push past it and continue to play. It does pick up. There is a lot of lore tucked into the emails, data files and computers in the game. You learn a lot by interrogating the tenants of the complex. Lots of little stories that help you better paint this bleak future. If you like that sort of thing I urge you to try and soak it in as much as you can. I found that it was a much better experience that helped me to sort of solve a few clues faster and understand the world. It even has a mini game called "With Fire And Sword: Spiders" which adds a silly atari like game in the computers around the complex. It has it's own strategy and tasks but.. I gave up on them after the 5th level.
Observer is part first person investigation game, part puzzle and part survival horror with heavy notes of a digital "layers of fear" approach. Imagine being in someone else's mind and seeing visions of nightmares dance around you while shifting around the scenery. It's rather unsettling at times and has it's fair share of creepiness and a few jump scares. Which I didn't mind. You have a certain loss of identity at times and I found myself often forgetting that I was linked neurally to a hosts brain. The nightmarish experiences and dreamlike happenings start to blend into the real world or is it the real world? The game does this tactic very well and makes you wonder what layer of reality you are currently in.
During the game you are presented with several response choices while interrogating the tenants of a building in the C block slums of Krakow. I'm not 100% sure if these choices affect the outcome of the end game but I can assure you that there is a rather heart wrenching head scratcher of a choice to make at the end. This choice will determine how the game will end. I only played through one of the two choices at this point. A rather tough choice to make as well.
If you want to see the second choice you could after beating the game. Well.. You will have to play the game a second play through as the game does not offer a chapter list or continue from the last save. Which was a little disappointing. I decided that I had to see what the other ending was and looked it up online. A quick search made it happen very easily but I'm fairly certain the developers of Blooper Team would rather you play through it again. I hope they add some sort of chapter list in an update to allow you to relive and experience some of the sections again. I think this would be a great edition to the game.
As I mentioned previously about the scenery suddenly changing around you while interrogating neurally. There are some puzzles that may make you a little confused but if you soak up the environment you should be able to navigate out of them. Most of the puzzles were not extremely hard but they did help to make the experience a bit more fun. I wasn't frustrated by it in the least. It was more of an experience that made you feel more entrenched into the psychological environment. Each interrogation is it's own mind adventure with different rules and different environments. At one point we even jumped into a world that in some respects reminded me of the newer Wolfenstein easter egg dreamscapes. Each link I partook in lef me looking forward to each neural link throughout the game. As I think this is where the game shines the most.
The story can at times be a little hard to follow if you are not soaking up the lore or paying attention to the story. Look at this game as a Sci Fi Mystery that unravels as you investigate. It will help you to better appreciate the end game a lot more.
Observer is a unique experience of a game that looks pretty great and truly messes with your head. The world is that of a sci fi wet dream turned on it's head with artistic & beautiful to nightmarish visuals that change the environment at a moment's notice. You are narrated & led by Rutger Hauer for christs sake.
It plays well and changes up the rules to keep it interesting. The story is pretty damn good and the rides you will go on are fantastic. I enjoyed them thoroughly. It has a little bit of a slow beginning but it finishes strong. I've seen other reviews point out that they felt that the world was too small and that they wanted it to be more of an open world cyberpunk adventure. That's not this game. This is a story driven, mind melting, sci fi adventure with notes of survival horror and puzzles. It's better to be experienced than ever explained. Its also left me thinking about it all day. I've never written a game review before and this game made me want to write one when I woke up. If that gives you an idea. Although this game may not be for everyone if you enjoyed "Layers Of Fear" i'm pretty sure you can enjoy this and know what to expect.
I am certainly glad I took the chance and bought the ticket for this psychological acid trip of a game. Definitely worth the price of admission. I suggest you do the same but just remember... Like Hunter S. Thompson said .. “No sympathy for the devil; keep that in mind. Buy the ticket, take the ride...and if it occasionally gets a little heavier than what you had in mind, well...maybe chalk it up to forced consciousness expansion: Tune in, freak out, get beaten.”
Observer is available on Steam, Xbox One & PS4
8.5 out of 10
Check out the trailer