Observer: System Redux brings a huge graphical overhaul of the original Observer. In addition to adding more details into the environment, effects such as ray tracing and HDR increase the visual impact and immersion of the world.
Observer is a dystopian cyberpunk future where the Polish mega corporation Chiron has an iron grip on the rest of the world. Advanced augmentations on humans are commonplace as is crime and a malcontent citizenry.
You play the role of Daniel Lazarski, voice acted by the late Rutger Hauer may he rest in peace, an investigator equipped with a special augmentation called the Dream Eater. The Dream Eater lets you jack into the neural interfaces of other people and observe their memories but it comes at a cost. You must take does of medication called Synchrozine, otherwise you risk losing your own sanity, reflected by distortions in reality in the game.
The game begins where Daniel receives a mysterious call from his own son, whom he has not seen in many years. As he tracks his son’s last known location to a run down apartment complex, he finds a decapitated corpse and more questions than answers. As he investigates the tenants of the building and gathers clues, the mystery starts to unravel into a larger conspiracy.
The game play is rather straight forward. You walk around the environment and gather clues by talking to individuals, reading logs and emails on computers, and scanning possible evidence with your ocular implants. Once in a while, you will have to jack into someone’s neural interface and this results in viewing a distorted sequence where the memories of the victim as well as your own blend together into a corrupted mess.
Overall, Observer: System Redux is an incredibly immersive jaunt into a rather messed up world, not far off from our own. The pacing of the narrative is excellent and it really feels like you are an investigator as all the small bits of narrative start combining together to reveal a larger picture of the truth. The writing backed by the voice acting does a fantastic job of giving you enough clues to start piecing together things without foreshadowing too much.
I was not a fan of the sequences where you jack into another person’s memories, personally speaking. The parts where you observe the person’s memories mixed with Daniel’s owns were interesting and created more depth to the characters and the world but the other parts where random loud noises and visual effects were thrown at you felt a bit cheap and shallow. Other people will probably enjoy it, it just wasn’t for me.
The memory sequences aside, the game really felt like you were an investigator slowly unraveling a larger conspiracy in an immersive cyberpunk world.