Observer (PS4) Review

Justin Celani

Observer the horror.

I’ve grown to love a good sci-fi story, some darker than others, because they give a scary look at what potentially could be in our futures. Sure we don’t have flying cars, but there have been countless elements to stories, movies, and games that we have seem come to fruition. Though in Observer’s cases, I truly hope we don’t ever have to experience what Daniel Lazarski goes through, because it can be absolutely terrifying.

First Person Walking Investigator 2.0

The player stars as Dan, an Observer, played wonderfully by Rutger Hauer. In this world, technology and humans have almost become at one with each other. Viruses that have run rampant, people that stay pure without mods, it makes for a very dark and grim future. Imagine something similar to the latest Dues Ex games but just ramped up to 11. What starts as a simple investigation with his son soon has Dan spiraling into a cocoon of electronic techno chaotic nightmare fuel.

MSRP: $29.99
Price I’d Pay: $29.99
Multiplayer: N/A
How long to beat: 7-10 hours

Gameplay is the standard exploration in first person, but the player will have to use their eyes and Dan’s different visions to analyze either electrical devices or organic material. Expect blood and lots of it. Finding the way to the next clue or puzzle and progressing can be fairly easy, as the game sort of pushes the player to proceed forward, but there are times I have been stumped and it took me a moment to realize what I was doing wrong.

When Dan isn’t exploring and investigating the case, he is jumping into the mind of dead victims, and as one would expect, a dying mind seems like a horrible place to visit. Memories fade together, victims screams, tentacles protrude from machines like some sort of animal meets machine. At times there are moments where monsters made of gritty metals, wires, and glowing pieces stalk Dan. Hiding is the best option at this point till the player can safely get Dan out of harm’s way. These moments were dread inducing for me, and some of this stuff leaks over into the real world making me question what’s around me. This is largely due in part to the amazing sound design and jump scares. Fair warning, this game will assault the senses as far as putting people on edge, and wearing a pair of headphones will test that. I literally had to stop playing at one point, it was just too intense for me.

A treasure of horror

I’ve always thought thinking of the future could be scary, but Observer takes it to the next level. The story should keep players on edge, and the constant assault of visual and audio overload go a long way to truly make this not only a game but an experience. From excellent world building, to fantastic sound, I was pulled into the game from the moment I hit start and the white words scrolling on black began. It’s bleak, dark, depressing, and twisted. The gameplay elements are typical of the genre, but never felt annoying to me, and require a bit more thought then most others in the genre.

The worst case offender as far as the PS4 version is the performance. It stutters constantly, it’s annoying, and a hindrance. Some moments in gameplay definitely feel like an intentional stutter or glitch, but this framerate is really a big blemish on an otherwise excellent experience. The devs are working on it from what I’m told, but it’s still a shame currently as is. I never knew sci-fi could be this scary, Observer proved me wrong.

Review copy of game provided by publisher.

Good

  • Fantastic Dark World
  • Sound
  • Investigation mechanics

Bad

  • Framerate stutters
  • Perhaps too many jump scares
8.5

Great

Justin Celani
Justin is a long time passionate fan of games, not gaming drama. He loves anything horror related, archaeology inspired adventures, RPG goodness, Dr Pepper, and of course his family. When it comes to crunch time, he is a beast, yet rabies free we promise.
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