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Uhmmm... pretty similar to Layers of Fear, in that it's a cyberpunkish "haunted house" kind of deal, with the late Rutger Hauer doing his best with some dodgy writing. It's... alright? It has its moments for sure, but I can't say I recommend it to those looking for a coherent experience.

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I like the style, I mean, it looks as authentic and dark as cyberpunk could be (compare it to a glamorous Human Revolution for example), but I think the plot and characters could be deeper, and the gameplay could be... well, could be present.

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The interesting thing about Observer is that, in theory, I really like it: you play as a detective or "observer" with mind hacking and augmented vision to analyze your surroundings.  The Observer is voiced by the late Rutger Hauer who is tasked with solving a murder case and it's all done against a Bladerunner-esque backdrop.

 

In practice however, it's just a baffling experience.

 

The game world is well done and has a fantastic atmosphere. It's a dark, dystopian, cyberpunk style where the events of the game feel like it would be going on in the background of the upcoming Cyberpunk 2077 game. It ultimately left me wanting to see more of the world, beyond just the apartment complex that the game is largely set in. The game also nails it in the horror department. Between dismembered and eviscerated bodies and other grotesque scenes, Observer clearly understands horror.

 

The investigative/crime solving mechanics are pretty rudimentary. It's just a matter of cycling between your two augmented vision modes and waiting for a clue to light up which allows you to scan and analyze it.

 

The mind hacking part is where the game really loses me, which is unfortunate, since that's a decent chunk of the core gameplay loop. They're incredibly trippy and obtuse sequences that are just really tedious after a bit. It reeks of style over substance.

 

The game's frame rate is also pretty up and down. Sometimes it runs buttery smooth, other times it drops below 30fps and just chugs along. The game is also on the shorter side in terms of run time and can really only be experienced once.

 

Overall, I'd give this game a rating of Love/Hate.

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Slightly mixed feelings about this one but overall a positive impression. On one hand, the story is a complete mess that feels less like a coherent narrative and more like a bunch of loose plot elements and sci-fi tropes that the developers weren't sure what to do with (although it at least feels like they cared about it, whatever it is). On the other hand however, the visual style, graphics, sound design and general atmosphere are all superb, and it seems that I'm in the minority on this but I found the dream sequences very well done and interesting. "Style over substance" is probably an apt description but I don't think that's necessarily a bad thing.

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