Observer: System Redux Review
Looking to build on the success of 2017’s Observer, studio Bloober Team hopes to bring the psychological horror experience to next-generation platforms. Boasting new graphics, improved lighting, additional content, and improvements to the overall gameplay, does it warrant enough for a remaster only a few years down the road?
Observer: System Redux Review
Set in the year 2084, Observer: System Redux offers a glimpse into a dark, dystopian cyberpunk future where a digital disease killed thousands, war ravaged the world, and seedy corporations seized power – enslaving the population through virtual reality, cybernetic implants, and augmentations.
You take on the role of Daniel Lazarski, played by the late, legendary Rutger Hauer (complete with upturned collar), as an Observer – a futuristic cop, controlled by the corporations and used as a tool of fear and oppression to control the populace. Armed with cybernetic implants, Observers are the perfect interrogation tool, using a Dream Eater device to directly infiltrate the mind of a suspect, withdrawing any and all information – regardless of the cost.
The story begins as Daniel Lazarski receives a bizarre call from his estranged son Adam. Concerned for his safety, Lazarski heads to the Class C District, where the dregs of society are forced to live. When he arrives, he learns of a murder that took place in Adam’s apartment. Unsure of his son’s fate, he sets out to solve a series of murders in an apartment building sealed off from the outside world – under the guise of a potential outbreak of the deadly Nanophage.
Observer: System Redux is almost entirely story-based. Unraveling the mysteries of Adam’s murder takes Lazarski to strange and bizarre places, from the dirty basements of the apartment building to the subconscious of dying suspects. I won’t go into specifics, as spoiling any single part is likely to have a detrimental impact on the experience. Nevertheless, it’s a fantastic story that is dark and seedy in places, supported by an interesting cast and solid voice acting throughout. It will disturb you, it will frighten you, and it will entertain.
The core gameplay mechanics of Observer: System Redux put you in the shoes of a cyberpunk detective, examining crime scenes, hunting down clues, questioning witnesses, and trying to locate suspects. Much of this is a very logical and methodical experience. You discover a body in an apartment and use your cybernetic implants to look for clues. Lazarski has two main tools at his disposal – EM Vision and Bio Vision – which are used to analyze biological and technological clues, respectively.
This approach to the detective experience can often be very hit and miss in video games. Playing detective is an exciting prospect on paper, but rarely do games deliver an experience free of frustration. If you’ve played other games attempting something similar, you’re sure to be familiar with the dreaded “final clue.” You spend 20 minutes searching a room or a house for a single objective you’ve yet to interact with, or a poorly placed item hidden somewhere obscure. Thankfully, Observer: System Redux avoids that wall of frustration nearly entirely. There’s are a couple of locations that can feel puzzling, but for the most part, it’s a fluid experience that adds to the overall design, not hindering the concept.
The original release of Observer showed a lot of promise, but struggled with certain aspects of gameplay, hindering the flow of the narrative with poorly designed stealth sequences that left a sour taste with our original review. Alongside many other improvements to the overall gameplay and content, the stealth aspects have been massively improved and no longer serve as an irritating brick wall to an otherwise flowing experience.
Observer: System Redux’s gameplay improvements have helped propel the game from pretty good to fantastic, but the visuals are where the benefits of the remaster really shine. It’s something you really have to play to experience, but the directional lighting, audio, and cyberpunk infused visuals make for an immersive feast for the senses. It is currently the best looking game I’ve played on the PlayStation 5.
Observer: System Redux combines a psychological thriller narrative with psychedelic visuals, terrifying chase scenes, and next-generation graphics to provide one of the most impressive remaster packages I’ve played in ages.
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