Oh boy oh boy oh boy. I would just like to start off by saying that this game will actually mess with your head a little bit. It takes a lot to make me jump and there were moments during this play through that I actually did look around in-game when there was a sound or something that seemingly came out of nowhere. This is another title available through GamePass on Xbox Live.
That being said, it’s not really a horror game. >observer_ is set during the year 2084 (that year is not lost on me, and you’ll understand as you go through the game) which is definitely a dystopian future. Have you ever watched Blade Runner? One could certainly draw comparisons between that movie (or the book Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep or even 1984) and this game.
Let me start out by saying this: Take the photo-sensitive seizures warning seriously. There are plenty of moments during >observer_ that use flashing images and lights. I cannot stress this enough, so please take that into considering before you download and play!
You play the part of Dan Lazarski (voiced by Rutger Hauer), a detective who works for largest corporation in the Fifth Polish Republic, Chiron. Your area of work is in Krakow, and it is not a pretty place to be. The world has gone to ruin after a digital plague killed thousands of augmented people (the nanophage) and a war wiped out the global superpowers. Dan’s official title is Observer, and he is able to jack into the minds and memories of people who are either dead or alive. Using this technology he is able to solve the crimes that he is investigating. You can also use his Electro-magnetic and Bio-Vision in order to search for clues which comes in handy when you’re on the case.
The visuals are dark both inside of buildings and out. There is almost constant rain, and it all adds to the overall feel of the game. Now, the visuals are not as top-notch as some other games, but that’s actually okay. It fits in with everything. It all blends together very well once you factor in the storyline itself.
Now, visuals aren’t everything when it comes to a great game. The storyline itself and how the game plays are equally important. For some, those are much more important that the graphics. This is actually true for me. While I do love and enjoy a beautifully crafted environment I also love a game where everything just works together. That’s what I’ve found in >observer_.
Audio! The audio is absolutely amazing and may just cause you to physically turn around at times when you hearing those footsteps behind you. Well, I may have looked around a few times both in my living room and in game, but I do have a working surround sound setup as well as some pretty good headphones. The audio environment is top-notch and really adds to your immersion.
The movement does feel somewhat clunky at times, but that’s not a huge turnoff. Dialogue is interesting (mature audiences to be clear), and the other characters that you interact with, whether it’s through an intercom type system or face to face, truly do seem alive and a part of this cyberpunk world. Okay, so you don’t actually interact with very many characters face to face, but there are probably more interactions with others than you might realize, and they all have different personalities. It’s actually quite amazing.
The story moves along well enough, though there are some lengthy cutscenes that have you sitting there watching. However, those scenes can be absolutely enthralling and may just have you sitting on the edge or your seat. They add to the story itself, and they get you moving along.
There are nanophage patient cards that you can college while you play through. It seems as though most games have something like this so that you can complete another achievement and that’s okay. Some people absolutely need those extra things to do. Even I need them on occasion, but if I am enjoying the game, then I will completely forget or miss most of those collectibles. Guess what? That’s what happened during my play-through. I only found 19 of those stinking cards. I believe there are as many of 60 of them scattered throughout the environment.
I don’t want to reveal any spoilers as I believe that a good game is definitely much better experienced than explained. I will, however, say that you will be presented with two choices at the end. Choose how you want or feel, but be aware that if you want to see how the other choice would have ended, then you will have to play through the game again in order to find out.
Overall, >observer_ really is excellently crafted from the visual and audio environment to the mechanics of the game itself. Everything about it makes me suggest that you give it a try if you enjoy a good single-player mystery. There really are no major downsides other than the fact that the game crashed on me after a couple of hours playing. That’s annoying, but it’s something that I can live with.
Verdict? 8/10 crazy implants.
Give it a go! I promise you that it’s worth it.
>observer_ was created by the Krakow-based bloober Team. You can find more info on the game here.
Oh! If you have any suggestions as to another game to review whether it’s a free or a GamePass game, then please leave a comment below! Constructive criticism is also welcome! Thank you!