Developer: Bloober Team
Publisher: Bloober Team
Release Date: 07/02/2019
Price: £26.99 / $29.99
When I first heard the gritty and dark sci-fi themed game Observer was coming to Nintendo Switch I was really excited as I felt the game would be served well by the home/hybrid console. Did this gritty thriller push all the right buttons or did it disappear like a thief in the night?
Well, I’ll be honest this game is fantastically dark from the storyline to the characters and setting there is simply no getting away from the grim world you find yourself immersed in. You take control of Detective Daniel Lazarski an Observer (more on this later), Who is technologically augmented and his world is about to be turned on its head as he gets dragged into a seedy world of run-down apartment blocks, shady corporations and murders (yes plural).
Daniel is a surly character who is reliant on his medication. Hollywood legend Rutger Hauer (Roy Batty from Blade Runner) plays our main character and there is no phoning it in here. You really get behind Daniel all the way through the game, the way he utters his swear words and delivers his lines help you believe in the character and you cannot help but warm to him and care what happens to him throughout the story. Observer takes many cues from the hit Hollywood movie Blade Runner, from the way the environments look to the dark dystopian look of 2084. The block you’ll be locked in during the majority of your investigation looks straight out of The Movie. A rundown slum filled with a myriad of different characters, the majority of which you’ll talk to by doing door to door questioning – don’t worry it’s really not boring it adds a level of intrigue to the story as you question the residents. What lies inside, I’m not going to spoil but the game holds a fantastic narrative that kept me interested right up until I finished the game.
Lazarski is a run down, beaten up cop who finds himself pulled into a bigger mystery when he is tasked with finding out why a run-down block of apartments has gone into an automatic lockdown during a murder investigation. As I touched on earlier Lazarski is an Observer, a neural police officer tasked with reading your thoughts and infiltrating your mind to use against you in evidence. You’ll find yourself hacking into the neural implants of people/suspects throughout your investigation, each one will test your sanity and take its toll on Daniel. Lazarski has scan technology that you can make use of during the game and will often help you solve different pieces of the puzzles set. You will find your tech and biological scanner systems will be used during the investigation.
This cyberpunk thriller really has you on the edge of your seat from the moment your investigation starts and if you think you know the answers then think again. The location will draw you in and you’ll start to know your way around this slum block in Krakow pretty quickly. Tonally the music really hits the right notes and helps to draw you in. This story really would be right at home in a blockbuster movie being released this summer. The cast of characters is rich and helps build the world you find yourself in, from the battle-scarred employees to the fighting husband and wife that you’ll encounter the world is filled with colourful characters to keep you on your toes.
One thing I really enjoyed was being able to choose lines of dialogue to lead an enquiry and it really helped me get into the character of Daniel whilst playing. Another thing that really helped put me into the game was if you had not taken your medication in a while the perspective from Daniel’s eyes would be affected and this wouldn’t change until you took your pill, a subtle but nice little addition to the game. I can honestly say I did not want to put this game down, I purchased this game Thursday afternoon and finished it in the early hours of Saturday morning I was hooked and really had to know how the story ended. The game kept me coming back which is a testament to how it was written and played out on-screen, I was invested and not since the fantastic State of Mind, released last year on Switch have I felt so drawn into a game world. It’s a proper character-driven story and it pays off big time.
Observer was certainly shorter than I anticipated and whilst I was shall we say addicted to the game I had hoped it would last me longer than a couple of days play time. Maybe I blitzed through the game but for the price point, the game is currently selling for I would hope for a bit more longevity. I paid nearly £30 for this game and whilst I adore the game I do feel that it’s a bit steep, especially as the game was originally released in 2017. I understand developers have cost to recoup but I’ll admit to being shocked by the price point and I’ll admit I managed to save a few pounds by using my American eshop account and some leftover coins. In all honesty, my only major gripe with the game is its price and whilst I’m happy to pay for quality I have seen this game go for less on Xbox. If you like your future dark and grim with a hint of murder in a cyberpunk world then this is the game for you and you can take it with you wherever you go thanks to the wonderful portability of the Nintendo Switch. In regards of controls don’t expect any COD type controls as this isn’t a run and gun type of game, you will find yourself using the L & R shoulder buttons to perform scans and hold down the ZR trigger to open doors etc. With a simple click of one of the analog sticks, Daniel will pick up the pace as he moves around the hallways of this dank and rundown building.
Whilst Observer takes its cues from movies such as Blade Runner and it’s sequel (the game has an opening crawl that looks familiar), Bloober Team have managed to make the game feel grand and fresh which should be commended in a modern gaming world and you can certainly tell the guys had a hand in Layers of Fear as the world and fractured memories of the suspects start to play havoc with your psyche. I keep hearing from others online they prefer handheld mode or docked mode is the way to go, as always these things are a personal preference and I won’t tell you how to play your game, suffice to say I enjoyed this most on my 50-inch screen with the lights down and the sound up. Handheld works well and the frame rate holds a little better but something about this game warranted the look of the big screen.
Check out the Observer trailer below:
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