I’m calling this a Pre-Review because I don’t think I have gotten far enough in the game to give a full review, but instead my thoughts on the early gameplay.
When I first received a review code for Observer: System Redux I was thinking it was some kind of spooky lost in space adventure game. I thought of a trailer of a game that was like if they had made the movie Gravity (Sandra Bullock/George Clooney) into a game — I was thinking of Observation. Instead what I got was a spooky cyberpunk adventure with Observer: System Redux.
I never played the original Observer so I had to look up the differences between the original and System Redux. Observer: System Redux is basically a Director’s Cut version. The new additions were better graphics, gameplay and some new story missions.
In Observer, you play as “an Observer” named Daniel Lazarski. The year is 2084 in a dystopian, cyberpunk future where the world seems to have been fractured by some sort of virus (not too far from our reality today). I definitely got some 90’s future movie vibes from this one (movies like Demolition Man, Judge Dredd, Blade Runner and many others).
The game takes place in first-person view which adds an extra layer of spookiness. The visuals feature a sort of cyberpunk/grunge filter. I still don’t know if that’s a creative choice or if Daniel is some sort of cyborg and sees the world this way. There were many moments in the game where I wasn’t sure if something actually happened or if it was a Lazarski hallucination — which I think is pretty cool.
What’s the Story?
Observer is a murder mystery where you uncover new and sometimes valuable information as you progress. The story begins with a murder in an apartment complex. After a blackout Daniel is stuck in this building searching for clues and a killer, while the residents are locked up in their apartments — some helpful, others not so much.
You interrogate and speak with many residents, through their intercoms. The conversations go from anywhere to normal, strange and troubling. Daniel must search for every single hint, clue or piece of intel that will help get closer to solving the puzzle.
I didn’t get to spend too many hours in this world. Each night I played I ended up playing for about an hour or so before getting stuck. I would come back the next night and do the same. Somehow each night was like a fresh start where I would explore and learn a bit more about the story.
Something small that I found enticing was the way you open doors in Observer. To open a door you must first check if it’s unlocked by holding R2 (PS4), next you must either push or pull, using the thumbstick to open the door in the proper direction. This has most likely been done in games before, but for some reason it felt very cool to me.
Anytime you do come across an open apartment you usually find something creepy, weird or horrible. Also, most apartments have a PC lying around. Daniel can interact with these to search recent emails, documents and more. It was a bit strange that every PC you come across in Observer has the same With Fire and Sword: Spiders video game on it. Each computer also saves your progress in the game. It’s like a big, building-wide LAN party.
One of my favorite moments so far was “being an Observer.” This means plugging into someone’s brain and seeing the most interesting and disturbing parts of their life, mixed with some possible hallucinations. The video below may be a bit of a spoiler, but it will also give you a taste of “Observing.”
It’s important in this game to take your time and look at every object in this game, which can become a bit of a chore. I’ve returned to rooms multiple times and found new items each time.
There are four distinct vision modes in Observer. First, of course, is normal vision. There’s also Bio-vision and EM Vision — when searching for clues and blood. And last there’s Night vision for when things are too dark. It becomes a bit of a chore when surveying each area in multiple vision modes to see what you find.
While this game takes place in First-person view, it is not a First-person shooter. Daniel has no gun or weapons. The entire game may take place in this building, and I think that’s fine. There are tons of apartments to check, and secret doors and areas to unlock.
Although I found myself stuck many times, after taking a break I always found something new. I like that the game doesn’t seem to be a linear adventure. Daniel is able to explore the building as he chooses, uncovering each clue as he goes.
Observer: System Redux does a great job of building suspense throughout the game. Overall not much scary stuff has happened, but with the music, visuals and overall game design I’m just always expecting some jump scares.
If you’re into spooky, but not horror games. More of a suspense/thriller than this game could be for you. I can see it as a good game to play while someone else watches too. If that other person loves suspense and thrillers.
I do plan to continue my journey as Daniel Lazarski. I really do want to figure out this murder mystery.
myVGBC.com was provided a game code for review to Observer: System Redux. It is currently out on ______ right now.