Observer (XBOX One) Review
Game Name: Observer
Developer: Bloober Team
Release Date: 15 August 2017
Platforms: Microsoft Windows, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Linux, MacOS and Nintendo Switch
I am back with my game reviews and this week we will look into a game that I just finished on my Twitch channel, Observer.
I did not want to play a scary game in October but it ended up being the case. I had watched the trailer a while back and it looked quite interesting. So I decided to give it a shot. Here is the trailer.
The game puts you in the year 2084 in Poland after a Nanophage outbreak. Nanophage is a disease that effects augmented individuals.The feel of the game is Deus Ex meets Blade Runner. I would say it leans more towards Blade Runner, but there are elements of augmentations that are very similar to Deus Ex. You play the character of Daniel Lazarski, who is a detective in the Observers Police department.
Daniel receives a distress call in his car from his son Adam. Answering the call by isolating where the call came from, you realize that you son is dead.
The rest of the game is a detective game and you want to find your son's killer.
The gameplay is from a first person perspective. At first there is not much that you can do as you are just going through the introduction. However, it does lead to a mini training so that you can learn how to use your hub and controls.
In your hub you cannot really do much other than to take Synchrozine that will help stabilize your implants due to stress.
Sample of Hub
As you can see in the hub you can do the following:
1) See stress levels
2) See current objectives and side quests
3) Take a pill (Synchrozine) to calm down the stress from your systems (Not shown in picture above)
You also have 3 modes that you can enable while investigating.
1) You can scan area for biological substances (Left Button).
2) You can scan the area for electronics (Right Button)
3) You can activate night vision (Pressing right thumbstick)
The game is a pretty linear with a few side quests. However, guidance is to a minimum. The game chooses to let you determine what the next step is. Sometimes the objectives help but sometimes they do not.
One of the strong elements of the game are the times when you mind meld (plug in) with the host. As an Observer you can go into a person's mind and see their deepest fears and memories. You quickly learn that most people have twisted minds.
As the player, you can also read terminals.
In the terminal, you can do the following:
1) Read emails
2) Look at news articles
3) Read documents
4) Play a game called With Fire and Sword: Spiders.
5) Log out
This leads to some interesting reads. It just adds to the lore of the game but in most cases it does not really add any value to the investigation at hand.
The last thing that you can interact is with the neighbours. it adds a little more to the story. By diverging from the main story, you can ring everyone's door. Some answer and some do not. However, there are instances where these can lead to side quests. This is fun to just get to know random characters and see how they behave in those times.
Since finishing the side quests gives you a rare achievement, I assume most players did not even try the side quests. They stuck to the main story. You are not penalized for doing so.
Observer is a Cyberpunk game that plays like a TellTale game. It is very linear with very few reasons to go off course.
I would to like to first talk about the look and feel of the game. The atmosphere and the sound are very spooky. If you like creepy games, this game is for you. There are many times where I got jump scares and I had the light on. This is especially true when you go into the basement of the apartment building.
The graphics of the game look good. You do not really ever see the outside but the graphics are nice and add to the already spooky atmosphere. However, there are times where the frame rate would drop randomly. Apparently, this is something that has existed since the release of the game. It is annoying especially when you are in a dream sequence and you cannot take any Synchrozine and everything is fuzzy. It adds extra complexity to the game for no reason.
The story is good but I feel the ending made me feel, meh. There are 2 endings possible. However, in either case, I felt like the ending was rushed and I would have liked to know what happened a little more.
The part that I loved the most in the game is talking to the neighbours. Some of them are funny and others seem pretty crazy. No matter what though the characters were well voiced. This is especially true for the title character Daniel, who is voiced by none other than, Rutger Hauer. He was a perfect choice. I think he added a lot of value to the game. Too bad that he passed away recently on July 19th, 2019. I would have liked to see another of these games with him voicing it.
One aspect of the game that I was not always a fan of were the mind melds (plug in). Many of these parts had some puzzles. However, the clues to help you are very subtle and trying to figure out what to do was not always clear. I understand that we do not want to tell the player everything, but clearer clues would have been nice. I spent in one area for over 45 minutes before realizing what I needed to do to complete the section.
Having said that, these sequences are the scariest in the game. I think the sequences were very well done and were cool. Just like a regular mind, you can see how memories work and how distorted things can be. Although the puzzles were sometimes puzzling, I do wish that there were more of these.
I also found the game kind of short. These types of games normally are but I would have liked to visit other areas or do more cases. There are 2 side quests but that was not enough. I would have liked more.
I finished the game in about 13 hours. If you are a completionist, it can take about 15 to 20 hours depending on how fast that you play. Some people finished it in 8 hours. I always double that for me and I was right. It was about that. If you know what you are doing, it will easily the player 7ish hours.
In the end, this game had a lot of potential, but there are parts that just fall flat for me. The atmosphere was cool and fun and great for this time of year. The idea of the game and the storyline were pretty cool. However, it is clear that is a game that values the journey over the destination. Getting to the ending is the coolest part, as the ending I think for me fell flat. It was too abrupt and I would have liked to know a little more about what happened.
I think if you want to have a game with some interesting scares with a Blade Runner vibe, then I recommend it. It is on XBOX Game Pass and that is where I got it from. It is worth it and it is not super long. So you can potentially finish this within a week if you have the time.
let ms know what you think? Did you play this game and did you like it? Let us know below.