Review Observer: the right horror for Halloween?

Who I am
Steven L. Ken
Author and references

On a dark night let's warm up with the cyberpunk horror of> Observer_: let's find out in our review if the Bloober Team game is worth the purchase

The scariest night of the year is coming and everyone is eager to disguise themselves and go out on the street to scare passers-by and throw rolls of toilet paper at the houses in the neighborhood. Or not. Maybe you prefer to stay under the covers, with the lights off to make the children believe that the house is empty. However, Halloween demands a sacrifice, a scream of pure terror or even just a shiver behind your back: why not pay the pledge with a good video game?

Just on the occasion of All Saints' Night, Bloober Team has decided to release a bundle containing Layers of Fears (you can find our review here) and, indeed, >Observer_. We therefore offer you our review of the PlayStation 4 version.

2084: 2+2=cybernetica | >Observer_ Review

The year is 2084. We are an Observer, an enhanced police officer with grafts that allow him to enter people's minds and wander their memories, looking for clues. It all starts on a rainy and barren night of events, at least until we receive a call from our son, Adam, with whom we have not been in contact for some time. The call is disturbed and we are not sure what is happening, but it does not matter: we know that we have to help him and that is enough for us. Traced the phone call, we reach a dilapidated apartment building in one of the poorest areas of the city. Our feet will soon walk in blood as a trail of murders leads us to our goal.

> Observer_ is a narrative adventure, with horror tones, based on cyberpunk themes. 2084 (a date not chosen at random, of course) offers a dark world, dominated by a dictatorial corporation that has control over every aspect of everyday life. People are alienated, locked in their hovels with their heads in front of holographic screens. Social classes are distancing themselves more and more and a (fake) freedom is paid for with poverty and nanophagy, a digital disease that affects people's implants.

Although the work follows the events of a father in search of a son, it takes the time to deal with various issues, putting the protagonist himself and his past into play. The world of> Observer_ is readable on several levels, but in any case we will find some rot waiting for us.

You were not made to live like machines | > Observer_ Review

The beauty (or ugliness, in a certain sense) of> Observer_ lies in the work done in the creation of the game environment: not only in the elements that surround our character, but also in what it allows us to imagine. The decadence we see around us inspires disgust and this disgust evolves over the course of the game from the material to the conceptual.. Initially we will have to deal with garbage, drugs, collapsed walls and dead animals, but as we continue our focus will shift to ethics and justice, between war veterans left to themselves and multiple consciences merged into one body.

This dualism will also apply at the gameplay level. Our task will be to explore the building, passing from one apartment to another in search of clues, to be found through our enhanced vision (a sort of "detective mode" that signals us the clues to be analyzed). Next, we will have to explore the minds of the unfortunate victims we will come across. These sections are based on occasional and very simple puzzles, short stealth sections and long "walking simulator" phases.

We use this term, which hides a derogatory sense, as the player often finds himself walking and walking in undefined places, dreamlike collages of reality that only sometimes tell something useful: the visual power of these phases is undeniable but probably more of an occasion you will start thinking “isn't it over yet? Another corridor? ”. The purpose is clearly to increase the longevity of the work: we will easily reach 7-8 hours of play, especially by exploring the intriguing secondary missions that will ask us to make choices of a moral nature. These won't have any impact on the game, but the quality is enough to keep us from abandoning them.

The main plot is also interesting: the exploration of the building, from floor to floor, accompanies us both visually and narratively in a slow descent into decay and madness. Too bad that the narrative suffers from the opposite problem of the gameplay and undergoes a sudden acceleration in the finale, adding up too many revelations of a certain weight in a few minutes. > Observer_ leaves no questions unanswered but, after building tension and doubts, throws every answer at us, denying us the pleasure of understanding more slowly what lies behind the disappearance of our son.

Another significant problem is the frame rate. In the PlayStation 4 version,> Observer_ visibly drops below thirty FPS on many occasions: given the limited size of the environment, it is not justifiable. At least, the artistic quality of the work is undisputed: the futuristic condominium is beautiful to explore and the dream sections quickly become disturbing and macabre. Note of merit for the sound component which, between excellent effects and dubbing (Rutger Hauer in the role of the protagonist is a certainty), helps to constantly create the right mood.

What remains of Adam Lazarski | >Observer_ Review

> Observer_ is a good level horror adventure that will thrill everyone, without falling into a banal sequence of jump scare. The setting is not content with being disturbing but tries to tell the story of a world and its sick society. An imperfect rhythm management and some technical problems are not enough to not recommend to all lovers of the genre a trip to 2084 imagined by Bloober Team.

8 For lovers of the genre

Points in favor

  • Atmosphere
  • Sonoro

Points against

  • Not perfect pace
  • Frame rate incostante
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