Observer Review

Posted August 24, 2017 by Kyle Simcox in Video Games

Developer: Bloober Team

Publisher: Aspyr

Release Date: August 15, 2017

Platforms: PS4, Xbox One, PC

Observer is set in the year 2084. After a nano-plague swept across the world killing thousands of augmented humans and a great world war followed to end major global powers, the Chiron Corporation established the Fifth Polish Republic, where the populace is divided up into three classes. In this new world you play as Daniel Lazarski, a detective with the ability to dive into the minds of other augmented human beings. It’s this ability that has earned him the moniker of Observer.

Just one of the many grizzly scenes you’ll have to investigate.

While napping in his car, Lazarski is contacted by a woman who is concerned about his vital signs. Being an Observer is a mentally stressful job and he runs the risk of going berserk (according to Lazarski’s snide comments). During this call, his long lost son Adam contacts him and Lazarski tracks the call to a Class-C district known as “the Stack,s” a run down slum in Krakow where life is at its worst. It’s not long before Daniel meets up with the building’s cyborg Janitor and eventually stumbles upon a gruesome murder. A lockdown leaves Daniel stranded inside the building with no way to contact the police and with certainty that the dead man isn’t his son, he is propelled onward, determined to discover who is behind the murder and find Adam.

The society that has developed around the run down hovel in this C-Class slum is a creepy, yet beautifully crafted one with wonderful sound effects to keep you just a little on edge. The apartment is held together by bubble gum and duct tape. The floors creek and the halls are lined with garbage. Lights flicker in and out as loud banging can be heard just around the corners. Daniel’s augmentations paint his surroundings with overlays and the neon reach of Chiron can be found all around the apartment building. As Daniel explores the rancid apartments, it quickly becomes apparent that the murder was not an isolated incident. Terrified civilians will occasionally reach out to Daniel offering insights into what they go through on a day to day basis or information about the murders. As you discover more crime scenes, Daniel also has the option to scan for clues and investigate his surroundings.

The creepy janitor isn’t so bad….

However, the real fun begins when Daniel needs to use his “Dream Eater” technology to dive into the memories of those he investigates. This is where the line between real and a memory begins to blur. Daniel’s memories blend with the memories of those he’s investigating. The memories are often fragmented and Daniel is witness to horrifying events that have taken place in the lives of these C-Class citizens and the desperation that drove them escape their situations.

These sequences are exhausting and there were times when I couldn’t wait to be out done with them (in a good way). When one was over, I found myself pushing deeper into the mystery. Searching every bit of my surroundings to find collectibles (which I’ve failed miserably at) and to keep Dan’s supply of Synchrozine up as time and using his “Dream Eater” augmentations caused Daniel to slowly de-synchronize from his body enhancements. Its no wonder the Observers are watched closely as they dive into the brains of a broken and shattered world.

You’ll have to use your Dream Eater augmentations to discover the mystery of Pieta and Paulina…

I played Observer on the PS4 and experienced some slight performance issues. Walking through the apartment complex causes the framefrate to stutter here and there, especially when walking through doors. One time after completing a side quest, the game crashed on me and I was forced to redo the memory I just finished before completing the quest. Another issue I have with the game is that the gameplay is pretty simple. You’ll spend most of your time just walking around and interacting with the environment. In very few cases however, Daniel will run into an instance where he can fail and you’ll have to restart. While its a scenario most people who play horror games expect, its not exactly explained when those moments come. Some are obvious, others are not.

If you’re a fan of Blade Runner or the Cyberpunk genre in general and Horror games, then Observer is an obvious purchase. Its a cautionary tale of humanity’s over-reliance on technology and the corporations that blur the lines between Man and Machine. Despite its simplicity, the Bloober Team does a fantastic job of melding two genres together perfectly to create a very wonderful experience.

About the Author

Kyle Simcox