When it comes to depicting images of the future, the entertainment industry is a pessimistic bunch. With diseases, famine, and technology the bane of our lives, these dystopian ideas don’t fill me with hope. Observer: System Redux paints a grim picture of what’s to come, so buckle yourself in as the future is a rough place.
Developed and published by Bloober Team and supported by Anshar Studios, this is a dark horror-thriller title. You are a cop, an “Observer” who uses his abilities to jack minds to solve crimes and murders before him. With a range of tools at his disposal, crime scenes have never been easier to map out and extract evidence from.
Observer: System Redux is suspenseful, grimy, and bleak.
The year is 2084 and the place is Krakow, Poland. A terrible digital plague called the Nanophage has ripped through society. It cost thousands of lives, divided the world between rich and poor, and allowed a new power to take over. Chiron, a megacorporation, forms the Fifth Polish Republic and the Observers are born. Denizens were split into classes and those addicted to drugs and holograms are labelled Class C and cast off to live in Tenement buildings.
These run-down hovels are depressing and dangerous places, and here is where the gameplay resides. You are Daniel Lazarski and, out of the blue, you receive a call from your estranged son. He’s in trouble and you track his call to a Class C building. Fearing the worst, you race over to discover a horrendous murder scene. The building is locked down and the whole story is restricted to the confines of those walls. Or is it? With the ability to hack minds, you will free yourself from the oppressive prison while solving the crimes before you.
Crime-solving has never been so tense.
Bloober Team balanced the story and gameplay mechanics perfectly, mostly. A tense and slow-paced tale is supported with creepy imagery and silent moments. Every scene is charged with suspenseful energy and the anticipation of what may not come was well-delivered. Less is always more, and I was on the edge of my seat while searching the maze-like building and questioning suspects.
You must befriend the Denizens as they are your only hope of solving the many mysteries. Their hatred of authority and distrust is apparent during every interaction. This beautifully depicted the political landscape and matched the nods to George Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four. I adored how the plot and gameplay intertwined key points from the novel and there was the odd Easter Egg to bring a wry smile.
Observer: System Redux infuses hacking minds, special vision, and stealth mechanics.
The core premise of solving crimes through conversations, hacking, and searching scenes was well-conceived. Observer: System Redux allows for many tools to aid you in your job. You have three visors that enhance your vision; Electromagnetic to pick up electronic signals, Biovision for biological clues and then there is night vision. The latter is extremely useful, especially when you explore the creepy basement.
Much of the gameplay was great, with the exception of the bizarre stealth moments. They are tedious, slow, and don’t match the rest of the gameplay. I can see what Bloober Team was attempting, but its execution was poor. Instead of adding fear and tension, it was just annoying and felt as if it didn’t belong. Fortunately, these moments are sporadic, but yet they still stick in your mind. If these moments were avoidable, I’d have chosen any other path. Sadly, they are not.
The oppressive Class C building is a horrific place to explore. Fortunately, mind jacking allowed you to escape the claustrophobic confines for a short time. These colourful and surreal experiences broke up the gameplay nicely while using the detective mechanics. It was fantastic to see through the eyes of each interrogated resident.
Mysteries upon mysteries and multiple choices.
Much of the pleasure found in Observer: System Redux is found in the many unexplained mysteries. Your choices impact the story and create many outcomes. This freedom plays on your mind and you constantly question whether you’ve made the right decision. This uncertainty was fantastic, and it added a sense of morality to a dark and cold plot.
The story proves you don’t need an evil protagonist chasing you to create fear. The stillness and emptiness can be just as scary, and Observer: System Redux builds this into its gameplay perfectly.
Observer: System Redux tells a fantastic story.
Observer: System Redux excels in its storytelling mechanics. Combining fantastic graphics and a wonderfully awful environment with excellent audio and brilliant acting was a great experience. The stunning futuristic imagery is masterfully delivered and complements the dystopian world. The claustrophobic labyrinthine building creates tension, and you wait to be scared senseless as your mind plays tricks on you.
I’m not a gamer who obsesses over specific actors, and I’m happy as long as the quality is good. However, I can’t ignore the acting that supports the protagonist’s speech and inner thoughts. Rutger Hauer, the actor behind many cult classics, adds his gruff tones to this Cyberpunk world. The tough Observer role matches Hauer’s perfectly delivered script and I admired the developers for attracting such high-quality talent. Alongside the excellent acting was an atmospheric soundtrack that had heavy futuristic undertones.
Designed with PC in mind.
Observer: System Redux suffers from inaccurate controls when selecting interactive objects. You’ll jostle and edge closer to each hitbox as you try to open doors or turn on electronics. It was annoying, especially as I know it works perfectly on PC. Other than this problem, the controls are straightforward and flitting between visors is quick and easy.
I didn’t expect a detective horror-thriller to have much replay value, but this one surprised me. With an array of dialogue choices and never knowing if you made the right selection, there’s plenty to make you come back. Its moderate achievement list takes time to complete. It proves to be great value for money, and gamers will play for hours.
Observer: System Redux is the future I don’t want to experience.
None of us can predict the future, but if Observer: System Redux is anything to go by, I don’t want any part of it. A torturous tale where the rich stamp on the poor and leave them to fight and die like rats. I thoroughly enjoyed this dystopian tale and recommend you to buy it here! Use your powers of deduction and well-honed questioning to solve the crimes you find. The future is bleak and you are but a cog in a powerful and oppressive machine.