More of a sleeper hit the first time around for developer Blooper Team, Observer is one of those games that really deserves another chance to make it on to your console’s hard drive and with this new System Redux remaster, it should.
Partly a throwback to the FMV games of the 90s, with the late Rutger Hauer taking center stage as titular Observer Daniel Lazarski, the game uses old adventure tropes, observation of your surroundings and stealth sections to produce something original for the modern age.
Playing as Daniel Lazarski, the game focuses on finding your son, piecing together evidence and delving further into the murky futuristic dives that lay beneath towering structures that only hint at how the other half live. Thankfully, Daniel is a detective and a future one, at that. This means he has a bunch of cybernetics to help him sniff out the truth, but not if other shady characters can help it.
But this isn’t your straight forward tale of good vs bad, it’s far more psychological. As well as using his enhanced detective skills to do the usual by-the-numbers work of finding clues and working out how someone came to be laying on the floor in a pool of blood, Lazarski can also jack into the minds of people in the city. This is where things take a more horrific turn. It’s no surprise that the Layers of Fear developer delves into the horror of future tech, but the way this is realised in the game really surprised me. As you’d expect, there are dangers with entering someone else’s mind and you can double that for some of the citizens trapped in their own special kind of hell here.
The story is tightly told with a gradual decent into cybernetically-induced madness before things finally become clear and spoiling it here would be a bad idea, you really need to witness this game for yourself. Needless to say, not everything is as it seems.
Adding to the immersion of the story, the graphics and environment do a great job of giving you the atmosphere of a Blade Runner-esque future where the advance of technology for the rich has created a society where the poor are forgotten and the physical world below the shining towers in the sky is left to rot alongside them. There are a nice selection of different game styles that mix up the gameplay, especially in side quests that don’t follow the main story route but instead serve to enhance the experience of this gritty future world.
The Xbox Series X upgrade in this System Redux version is well worth a visit, even if you’ve already played the original. The stealth and adventure elements have now been tweaked and streamlined, with Blooper Team obviously taking the small criticism from players into account and it’s a much smoother game as a result but it’s the graphical design of the game world that has seen the most improvement here. This game really does look great and even more closely matches the Blade Runner aesthetics that it originally tried to produce.
Observer: System Redux is another well designed tale of psychological terror from the team behind Layers of Fear, but with a message about the march of technology and erosion of the self in the process. It’s well worth a visit in its new updated form, especially if you’re new to the game.
Editors Note: This review features some elements from the review of the original Observer game.