- Developer: Bloober Team
- Publisher: Bloober Team S.A.
- Release Date: 07/02/2019
- Price: $29.99 / £26.99
- Review code provided by Bloober Team
Things just ain’t the same for gangsters
I’ve never been much of a voyeur myself but I did really like the TV series Fringe, so I was admittedly very intrigued by this title. Much like the aforementioned TV show, >observer is equally weird and wonderful and just a little disconcerting. The year is 2084 and seemingly advancements in technology allow for modifications to the human body, be it a fancy new lung, a bionic arm or Samus style visor built into your very being.
Every time you let the animals out of cages
Having spent time in Krakow in the present day, I was interested to see what kind of dystopian future the games developer has envisioned. Unfortunately, very little time is actually spent outside as most of the games overarching narrative is told in an apartment building that is in a state of lockdown. Due to this, nobody is allowed to leave or enter and this acts as the game worlds barriers.
Make way for these new names and faces
>observer is essentially a walking sim, wherein you take control of the games protagonist, and after being lured to an apartment building by an intriguing and impossible phone call, must unravel the mystery of the most heinous of crimes that have played out in this hapless habitat. Using a combination of your biological abilities – various visors for scanning the environment and the ability to hack terminals the mostly utilised, along with good old fashioned police work (oh yeah, you play as a cop!!)
Keep us trapped in the same place
The pacing in >observer for the most part is very good, with the linear nature of the game allowing things to flow and progress organically. That being said, there were a few instances when bugs ruined the experience for me. In all instances I had to hard quit the game and was thrown back half an hour or so, the time that the game last auto saved. One of these moments took me back to before the lone stealth section, which was almost a double edged sword as it meant I got to play through that again, however it did seem tenfold more challenging this time around and I grew frustrated trying to progress through an area that I had already cleared.
I’ve seen them come, watch them go
Visually, this might be one of the most stylised titles that I have played in quite some time. >observer offers a cyberpunk futuristic aesthetic brimming with neon hues and overtures of disparity, which paired with the complex and isolated feeling, creates a genuine pathos that lingers throughout. Whilst the main game area are desolate and neglected, the ‘hacking’ areas are utterly eclectic and offer some truly dark, twisted and fanatical scenes the likes of which this simple scribe hasn’t ever experienced before. A special mention must go to the lighting in this game as, considering its overly dark feel, lights are used to great effect and offer clues to gameplay as well as an extra level of personality. The audio direction too is perfect for the themes offered in >observer. Everything is voice acted so walking down the corridors in the block of flats is a colourful affair to say the least. Because of all of this it is worth noting that the download file size is a whopping 18GB, certainly worth noting if you’re low on free space.
Zipped up in bags [..] that’s it!
All in all, >observer delivers a dystopian game world in stunning fashion, creating an experience that really plays with your senses and perception of reality along the way. Whilst some of the puzzles will have you feeling a little confused, generally >observer is a delight to experience, taking the humble walking sim and placing it in an utterly twisted and warped world. Some issues with bugs detract from the immersion slightly but overall >observer is definitely worth a look, providing you are of sound mind to begin with that is.
- Unique and stylised to the nth degree
- Gripping, suspense led narrative
- Stunningly presented
- Game crippling bugs
- The ‘hacking’ stages can be genuinely disconcerting