Observer PC Review
Observer is a cyberpunk psychological horror game from Polish development company Bloober Team, the same team that brought you Layers of Fear.
The game is set in the year 2084 and follows the story of Daniel Lazarski, played by the actor Rutger Hauer (Blade Runner and Sin City), set in the city of Krakow. Lazarski is a detective working for the Observers police unit, who are tasked with hacking augmented targets memories and fears with a device know as the Dream Eater. The world is mostly in ruin after a plague wiped out thousand of augmented humans, with a major war taking care of the rest. Chiron rose for the ash of the ruined world as the authority and major manufacture of pretty much everything people need.
Lazarski is equipped an Electromagnetic Vision, which is used for scanning electrical devices and to locate the augmented areas of humans that have survived. The Bio vision Lazarski is equipped with is also used to scan the environment for biological objects such has wounds and hair. These go hand in hand with his ability to hack into people memories making him a force to be reckoned within this dystopian society.
The game starts with Lazarski sitting in his patrol car when everything goes dark and he receives and abrupt call from his son, which leads him to the slums of Krakow known as the Class C district which is where the criminals and drug addicted citizens of the society are living. You quickly arrive at an apartment block which where the bulk of the story unravels.
In essence the game is a detective story set in a insanely detailed environment. Talking to the denizens of the apartment block in Class C district, examining crime scenes and locating clues make up a variety of gameplay aspects here that leave the game feeling well round and fulfilling. Jacking in to the memories of the dying or dead trying to make sense of the crime scene you’ve stumbled across whilst trying to locate you son, leaves reality feeling all to fleeting. There is augmented reality displays everywhere, and just as many augmented people leaving this dystopian city scape feeling surreal.
The memories you jack into are far from pleasant, full of hallucinations and fractured aspects that tell the stories leading to the victim’s demise, these leave you on edge and looking around every corner waiting for the killer to find you. The memories are full of loops, puzzles and challenges that make you feel like you will never escape back to the reality of Krakow. Each time Lazarski makes the jump, he comes back leaving himself more and more mentally exhausted with the need to push onwards to find the truth.
The cyberpunk genre serves as a reflection of where we are heading in society, with more and more technology integrated into everyday life at the cost of our humanity. The game is visually stunning and sets a new bar for the genre of Cyberpunk games. The voice acting from Rutger Hauer is perfectly casted, and he delivers the role spectacularly. Observer is overall pretty short, but it will have you playing until you push on to uncover the truth – it truly is a captivating game. The sound design is fantastic, too, from the impressive soundtrack, written and composer by Arkadiusz Reikowski, to the noise of creaky doors, all lends itself to a truly great psychological horror game.