Our Rating: 8.5/10
Observer is a first-person police investigation game developed by the Bloober Team and published by Aspyr.
Observer: System Redux, the definitive version of the game with extra content and performance improvements. It was first released in 2017 and then again in 2020.
The game places you in the shoes of Daniel Lazarski. He is a ruthless elite detective; voiced by the late actor Rutger Hauer – known for his role in the mythical Blade Runner. Combined with the beginning of the adventure, (with a car whose interior is very similar to that in this film by Harrison Ford) this game gives the feeling of a tribute.
You are in the middle of 2084. A world devastated by wars and dominated by large corporations. Specifically, the Chiron Corporation.
Furthermore, people refuse to stop taking drugs and implanting all kinds of junk into their bodies. They live in filthy places where murders occur at all hours of the day and night. Organs or substances of dubious origin are trafficked, and the police are powerless to intervene.
To top it off, a disease called “nanophage” is rapidly spreading throughout the population. It is slowly killing anyone who has implants or augments in their body. Daniel Lazarski appears as an “observer” that is, a detective who infiltrates other people’s minds for clues.
The adventure begins with a murder notice. You will receive this in an apartment building that you must investigate. The victim is revealed to be your son, further complicating matters.
This is where the entire adventure takes place. There are multiple floors, basements, and houses on the property. It is unquestionably the best in the game, with a labyrinthine design and a very oppressive setting.
The story is full of cyberpunk-inspired futuristic adventures, with themes such as transhumanism. Secondary characters are uncommon in a narrative adventure of this type. Despite this, the game’s structure is fantastic. Exploring every nook and cranny of the apartment building is a delight. It’s crammed with perplexing and eccentric residents who perfectly capture the year 2084, when humanity has clearly gone insane.
More than meets the eye, the apartment complex has a lot to offer. Despite the fact that Observer is based on a Walking Simulator, it still provides the player with a great deal of freedom. While following the main plot, you can inspect the entire building to your liking. You’ll eventually come across the secondary plot lines.
A graphic puzzle adventure
You can also learn more alternate stories. To learn more, examine and read the data on the computers you’ll come across. You must sweep the scenarios thoroughly. Look for information, interview suspects, and get into the minds of some characters. Alternating primarily between two modes of vision. Search and analyze biological clues and the other digital, nightmarish scenes that are spectacular.
The developer is very good at this aspect. We saw this in Layers of Fear or in some moments of Blair Witch. These sequences perfectly merge terror and cyberpunk. Something that we have rarely seen so successfully, and offer very impressive audiovisual moments.
You’ll be confronted with what we could call a graphic adventure in the same vein as the others. While there won’t be any particularly difficult puzzles, you’ll need to find some clues/passwords and know where to use them. It’s important to note that the setting is quite large, and it’s easy to get lost in it.
Observer isn’t a title that’s looking for a fight (not even in survival moments). The game requires calm play in order for the player to recreate the story and details. For example, you can enter a room and spend some time looking around or investigating with forensic vision, and the best part is that the more you recreate, the more things and details you discover, which is without a doubt one of the Observer’s key points.
The GOOD, the BAD, and the OVERALL GAMING EXPERIENCE
Observer offers an impeccable and tremendous artistic section inspired by the darkest and most decadent cyberpunk movement. Said quickly and concisely: you’ve never seen anything like it and you’ll never ever see anything like it.
Each of the rooms you will visit will be a fountain. The aesthetic emphasizes dirt, decadence, and the unpleasant while remaining extremely beautiful and stimulating to the eye.
On all sides, the interior wiring of the building is visible. As if it were the very “entrails” of the structure. Monitors and bits of broken technology litter the corridors, often displaying disturbing images. There are destroyed walls, mattresses thrown on the floor and drug remains all around.
At every turn, filth, trash, and decay accumulate. Creating a constant sense of overwhelm among the players. Giving the impression that living there is the last thing you’d want to do with your life.
Game Aesthetics and Soundtrack
The technological elements (monitors, computers, televisions, or even the doorbells themselves) are displayed in a retro-futuristic aesthetic. Holograms on the walls often attempt to uselessly “beautify” all the decadence. All of this is done with apparent mastery of lighting and shadows. As well as a great deal of artistic direction.
In terms of graphics, this remaster far outperforms the original title on every level. This Redux version contains so many changes and new features that it should be considered a remake. However, it is surprising to see that some details that impede gameplay have not been addressed.
The overly complicated mission tracking menu, for example, makes it difficult to understand what you’re doing or what goals you’re achieving.
Then there’s the interaction with the environment’s elements. It necessitates being at a distance with very little margin of error, neither too close nor too far. You have to be exactly where the game wants you to be, which makes no sense. This becomes a problem because the interact icon does not appear until you are at that exact distance.
It’s all too easy to get caught up in the details of a room and miss something important because you didn’t get to the right distance. It’s a very silly lump failure that they haven’t detected, which we don’t understand.
On PS5, you can play with ray tracing at 1080p and with a highly variable image rate. This ranges between 30fps and 50fps, but sometimes drops to 20.
On Xbox Series X, there is no ray tracing, but you have a 4K mode instead. The rate of images per second ranges between 40fps and 60fps.
Because this is such a slow game, the drops aren’t too severe. However, optimization work is still in short supply. In any case, you can always play at 1080p and 60fps, which still looks great. They have also said that they will incorporate ray tracing in the X / S Series version.
There is no lack of Blade Runner influences too. You will see this at all times. Bloober Team has included a multitude of references to honor Ridley Scott’s film. But Mr. Rutger Hauer stands out at the top of the game. Specially with his voice, delivering a dubbing that is truly amazing and giving his character a strong “bitter detective” personality.
Observer: System Redux is not only an example of how to make a good remaster of a cult work. It is also a reference in the cyberpunk genre, science fiction and psychological terror. A work that is a tribute to the memory of Rutger Hauer, the leading actor of the game who died in 2019.
It’s a Walking Simulator that adds touches of other genres and gives a story with an incredible narrative. It has a unique artistic section with brutal graphics. Moreover, if you replay it over time, you will discover even more details.
Observer: System Redux is a title to play at ease and in full relaxation. Enjoy its history, setting, and details. This recreates the dark universe it offers.
The original Observer was already a good game. But now, with certain playable tweaks, new content, and the enormous graphic improvement it has received, makes it a really attractive graphic or narrative adventure.