09 September 2017

Story

 Observer's story is going to strike you as incoherent sci-fi gibberish if you don't pay attention or read most of the notes. Doing so will unveil an intriguing noire story.

 Dan, our main character, receives a distress call from his son, Adam, they hadn't been in contact for years and after hearing his son's troubled voice, Dan pinpoints the source of the call and heads to a residential building in the slums of the city.

 

 

When he enters his son's apartment, Dan finds himself in the middle of a crime scene in which lays a body without a head.

 Uncertain of the corpse's identity he decides to inquire the residents for any suspicious behaviours. After a few moments the building is locked down and nobody could leave nor enter the building, this proves helpful to Dan, if the killer was still there then he wouldn't have anywhere to go.

 After inquiring the tenants a lead surges on a couple that was making a remarkable amount of noise. Upon his arrival to their apartment, another murder had already taken place but this time the husband was still drawing his last breath so Dan plugs himself into the man's head and "observes" his memories.

 

 

He learns that the victim's wife ran out of the apartment while her husband fought the killer. If she was still alive then she would be able to explain the reason behind the murders and their connection to Adam.

 Dan follows the woman's tracks and finds himself in her tattoo shop, located in the courtyard. There lays a female corpse, through her memories he learns that she downloaded a confidential file as a favor for his son and that the killer came after her because of it. This crime scene was stained with fresh blood from both the killer and the victim and after scanning the murderer's blood he then follows it to his lair.

 

 

Dan follows his lead through the basement and sewers. Upon reaching the killer's hideout he gets attacked and passes out after taking a fall. When he comes back to his senses he sees the killer tangled in high voltage cables, gasping for his last breath. After "observing" and giving him a through analysis Dan learns that the killer is a heavily modified individual that had suffered abuse from his father and peers when he was younger and that caused him to create a obsession with Little Red Riding Hood's Big Bad Wolf and that was why he had made himself look like a Werewolf, so that people would fear him and not treat him like a coward as they had done all his life.

 After searching the killer's hideout, Dan finds Adam's head atop a table, before connecting himself to it he receives a call from his son telling him not to do it and to come to a place called Sanctuary in which he would be able to contact him.

 

 

After joining Adam in a virtual reality world, Dan learns that his son is now a "digital ghost". He uploaded himself before dying in hopes of living through his digital mirror self.

 Dan also learns that the confidential information that had been stolen made the "Big Brother" corporation release a virus that would kill whatever was left of Adam and his peers.

 After causing major set backs to the virus that threatened his son's life Dan learns that the "ghost" Adam was the one that told the "Werewolf" killer to kill the real Adam and everyone that was connected to him.

 

 

He also learns that Adam didn't upload himself before dying, he did it weeks before, he believed that his digital self was getting too smart and that made him start to plan on deleting him. Then, digital Adam contacted the already disturbed killer and all was set in motion.

 In the end you're faced with the option to either save what was left of Adam (his digital self) by merging with him or you can destroy him.

 

 

Visuals and Performance

 Observer looks really good and like it's predecessor it performs very well.

 I didn't have any problem in my 7 hour playthrough and was surprised when I first started the game and the launcher asked me if I wanted to stream and link a twitch account. This streamer friendly approach should be a standard in this day and age.

 

 

Gameplay

 In terms of gameplay, Observer is very similar with Aspyr's previous game, Layers of Fear.

 You basically walk and explore the enviroment around you while also analysing crime scenes with your tech detecting vision and your bio vision. You also have to take synchronizing pills so that your body does not start rejecting the mods that you have installed on yourself (these pills were abundant and did not feel like a real threat, they were more like a useless mechanic that only serves to bother you).

 

 

Most of the horror factor comes from the visuals and the sounds. Observer is heavily set on the Shock Horror genre, there's plenty of gore and everything in the building looks absolutely filthy and messy.

 You also have the classic stalker monster that only shows up in a few parts of the game.

 

 

Impressions

 To me, Observer is a mix between 1982's movie "Blade Runner" and the detective mechanics from "L.A Noire" and Batman's detective mode in the Arkham series.

 In the beginning it was a little hard to learn the controls and it was frustrating to get through the first few minutes. I didn't know what to search for and where to go, after getting the hang of it a veil fell and I was looking at a fantastic Sci-fi Noir game that immersed me in it's mysterious story.

 The story is more coherent but the fear factor is dimmer in comparison with Layers of Fear. The filthy state of the building and the gore are the main ways to convey horror and discomfort to the player.

 

 

 There weren't many jumpscares throughout the campaign. The background sounds and suspense do most of the job at keeping you in edge. The moments where Dan is "observing" the memories were the ones that made me feel the most discomfort, it was as if I was living through a fever dream.

 One the biggest surprises of this game was it's minigame named "With Fire and Sword: Spiders", I think that it should be a standalone puzzle game in the steam store because it was surprinsingly fun to play and I found myself searching for other level stages that are hidden in the computers on the building.

 There's a really cool easter egg on apartment 202 that is very easy to miss but worth a detour. After hacking the lock and guessing the rest of the code (3690) you will be presented with a short "remake" of the demo for Silent Hill P.T., this was a really big surprise that I wasn't expecting to ever come across in Observer and it shows that the devs are big horror fans.

 

 

Remarkable Moments

 Observer has a few better of two evil choices, that you can make along your journey. The one that got me in a dilema was the following: You have a pig that is beyond its normal state, he's under sedatives and in a virtual reality world believing that he is free, meanwhile in the real world, he is being used as a organ farm, he is genetically manipulated so that he generates the organs needed and then he is harvested.

 After a power outbreak the pig is there, laying in pain and you have the choice to either restart the machine that gives him sedatives or pull the plug on him. The dilema is that the pig is providing organs to poor citizens (from old men to children), they wouldn't be able to get them otherwise because the costs of the procedures are to high, eventhough he's sedated you know that he is not really living and that if not for the machine he'd be in horrible pain. So, what would your choice be?

 

 

Final Thoughts

 The final taste left in my mouth by Observer was a pleasant one. I recommend you grab it either when it's on sale or at a reseller.

 If you like shock horror with tons of gore then this is your cup of tea but beware, you might get lost in the story if you're not paying attention to it.

 

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