Developer: Bloober Team SA
Genre: Horror, Adventure, Other
Platform: Nintendo Switch
Release Date: 07/02/2019
Price: £26.99 – Rapid Reviews UK was very kindly provided with a review code for this title.
What the Developers say
Observer is a cyberpunk, detective thriller set in the year 2084 in Krakow, Poland. The world lies in ruins with corporations seizing power after the fall of governments. You do their bidding. No lie will remain hidden from you, as you hack into the minds of those you interrogate. When your past catches-up, you must act on your own and unravel the mystery of your son’s disappearance. Your name is Daniel Lazarski, you’re an Observer.
The year is 2084, in Krakow, Poland. When you receive a mysterious call from your estranged son Adam, you decide to follow where the call came from and fall deeper and deeper into a rabbit hole of dread and mystery. >Observer_ is a gritty cyberpunk horror where you take on the role of Daniel Lazarski, a Detective with some added upgrades. I have been looking forward to reviewing this particular game because after playing Bloober Teams Layers of Fear on the Switch, which is set in a Victorian style era, I was curious to see what the team’s vision of the future would look like, the results were both terrifying and thought-provoking.
Looks and Sounds
Observer takes place in a Polish apartment building that you tracked your son to, only to be stuck in there after a Lockdown, maybe one of the impressive things to learn about the building that you are exploring is that this structure exists in our real world.
With the use of the Unreal Engine, textures have a realistic look, whether it is the muddy puddles below your feet or the tanned leather on a seat, but some textures can take a slight moment to fully res, this is really apparent when coming across the collectable Nanophage cards, which look a blur before the full resolution kicks in. The architecture of the crumbling apartment building is littered with revolutionary holographic signs flickering in the halls, wires intertwined with rotting wood and chain link fences. The building feels like a post-apocalyptic maze, with furniture of past decades and old tech littering the hallways, bringing an oppressing view of the future of these poor citizens.
Being an Observer gives Lazarski the ability to investigate peoples minds, where you discover there memories and fears. This part of >Observer_ is an absolute masterpiece of a psychedelic nightmare, where reality and hallucination are merged into a glitching apparition that you walk through to piece together the clues as to what is going on in this dark slum. Walking around in somebodies subconscious is filled with the unknown. Where it’s not merely looking at their past, but being submerged in their self-doubt and fears as the world twists and contorts in what is like a mad world of illusion.
The Cyber-Punk vision of the game has been given an ambient music score from Arkadiusz Reikowski that is subtlety fed to you as you walk along the empty halls with sounds of echoing screams and your hollow footsteps. The sounds in >Observer_ add immensely to the psychological horror as your brain tries to fill the gaps as to what the source of these sounds in both the mind hacks and the real world.
Which brings us to the Voice Acting in the game, and lucky for us, we are giving the rough voice of Rutger Hauer as our main character, Daniel Lazarski. Rutger brings a real sense of grit to this character as he talks to the trapped residence through there crackling door intercoms with some interesting conversations from the variety of cast.
Gameplay and Replayability
Observer_ has many different gameplay elements within when you find a crime scene, and you use both a Biological and Technical scanner to search for clues and solve puzzles. The intriguing story keeps you exploring the labyrinth of an apartment building and talking to the many residents for clues can give you significant insight into the world of 2084, where people are perhaps addicted to ether chemical or holographic drugs.
When you do come across a potential suspect to interrogate through the mind synchronising procedure, you are given a visual walk through a flickering nightmare of glitches and strange illusions that are genuinely mentally disturbed.
There are many different extras when playing through >Observer_ such as a mini-game that can be found through the computers called With Fire and Swords, where you must collect coins and destroy any spiders that block your path with a flaming sword (always works for me) as well as many hidden collectable cards littered throughout of Nanophage patents. With two endings to this game and some other cases to investigate besides the main story, I do believe I would play through >Observer_ a second time and try to find every hidden collectable that I can.
A Cyber-Punk horror masterpiece, this game has all the elements to scare and terrify, whether it is the odd hallucinations you observe while walking through the real world, the odd digital glitches and visions while hacking a mind or just the sadness and empathy that you feel for the many different residents throughout the game. It is an extremely intriguing story that pulls you into a dark digital world of depression.
There are a lot of people comparing this to the Sci-Fi masterpiece that is Blade Runner, but I also find >Observer_ to be much closer to the world of Katsuhiro Otomo’s Akira than Blade Runner.
That being said, If you love Sci-Fi and Horror and want to escape into a world that merges these 2 elements, I strongly recommend >Observer_ to you.
Rapid Reviews UK Rating
You can purchase Observer at the Nintendo eShop on the following link, https://www.nintendo.co.uk/Games/Nintendo-Switch-download-software/Observer-1507429.html#Overview