The year is 2084. You are Daniel Lazarski, an elite neural detective known as an Observer, and part of a corporate-funded police unit whose purpose is to hack and invade suspects’ minds. When you receive a mysterious message from your estranged son, a high-level engineer for the almighty Chiron Corporation, you journey to the seedy Class C slums of Krakow to investigate. As you hack into the minds of criminals and their victims to find clues, you are forced to relive their darkest fears. How far will you go to discover the truth?
In the year 2084, Daniel Lazarski receives a sudden call from his estranged son, which leads him to the slums of Krakow known as the Class C district which is where the criminals and drug-addicted citizens of the society are living. You quickly arrive at an apartment block where the bulk of the story unravels. Along the way, Lazarski passes through some degrading memories and nightmares of several murdered victims.
The memories you enter into are far from pleasant, full of hallucinations and fractured aspects that tell the stories leading to the victim’s demise, these leave you on edge and looking around every corner waiting for the killer to find you. The memories are full of loops, puzzles, and challenges that make you feel like you will never escape back to the reality of Krakow. Each time Lazarski makes the jump, he comes back leaving himself more and more mentally exhausted with the need to push onwards to find the truth.
Soon after, memory and reality become blurred, and horrific revelations emerge from the depths of hell. You will follow the story of Daniel Lazarski, which by the way is played (voiced) by the actor Rutger Hauer in the city of Kraków. The world is mostly in ruin after a plague wiped out thousands of humans, with a major war taking care of the rest. Lazarski is actually a detective working for the Observers police unit, who are tasked with hacking augmented targets memories and fears with a device known as the Dream Eater.
Examining crime scenes and locating clues make up a variety of gameplay aspects here that leave the game feeling well round and fulfilling. Jacking into the memories of the dying or dead trying to make sense of the crime scene you’ve stumbled across whilst trying to locate your son, leaves reality feeling all too fleeting. There are augmented reality displays everywhere, and just as many augmented people leaving this dystopian cityscape feeling surreal.
Overall, the game is a bit short, but it will have you playing until you push on to uncover the truth. It truly is a captivating game. The sound design is awesome too, from the impressive soundtrack, written and composed by Arkadiusz Reikowski, to the noise of creaky ass doors, all lending itself to a truly great psychological horror game.
About the product
- From Bloober Team, the creators of Layers of Fear, >observer_ is a cyberpunk horror game designed to disturb you.
- Steam account required for game activation and installation
Genre: Psychological/Survival Horror
Release Date: August 15, 2017
Developer: Bloober Team
Game Engine: Unreal Engine
Platforms: MS Windows, PS4, Xbox One, Linux, macOS, Steam
Mode(s): Single Player
Reviewed by: Chad Bartlett
Our Rating: 3.4 /5
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