Games in the style of cyberpunk, there is quite a lot: Deus Ex, Snatcher, Shadowrun, Watch Dogs, Syndicate, System Shock. The list is long. But how many of you can remember video games, which are based at the same time cyberpunk and horror? I like tried, and did not recall a single one. Polish Studio Bloober Team has released their new game that combines a fantasy world in the spirit of “Blade Runner” with elements of the survival horror genre. Pass up such an unusual project I just could not.
Platform: PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Linux, OS X, Windows
Genre: Survival Horror
Release date: 15 Aug 2017
Developer: Bloober Team
Download link to Steam
Read another review
About the Studio Bloober Team became aware of only last year, when the sale of their great horror Layers of Fear, telling the story gradually descending from the mind of the artist. Intertwined in this compelling psychological insight and visionary approach except that some famous film Directors. Poles by the special art-making were able to recreate on screen the process of the confluence of the human mind when it dreams, love, fears and other emotions intertwined in a terrible whirlpool of illusions, and then fall on the heads of the players. Audience and critics relatively well received the game, and the poles began to work on the next project.
This game turned out to be Observer – futuristic horror in the style of cyberpunk. I mentioned at the beginning of the cult film directed by Ridley Scott of “Blade Runner” (1982) because the role of the protagonist of the game played Dutch actor Rutger Hauer. Yes, Yes! The one that played in the movie Replicant Roy Batty. In the game he got the role of “observer” — the employee of Chiron Corporation, engaged in investigating various crimes, searching and questioning people, as well as removing from their minds valuable information in the case, if they don’t want to meet the authorities.
The big picture the developers painted a very depressed, as befits the genre. According to the history of the game in the next few decades, most people will volunteer for the modification of their bodies with the help of augments. And all would be well, in the same series Deus Ex, but only in 2047 happened to the epidemic of digital virus “nanotag”. The virus has caused severe disruptions in the work of nanomachines, linking the living tissue and electronic components. Defective electronics caused severe damage to the carrier, eventually killing it. Digital plague wiped out millions of people and utterly defeated its scientists and failed.
The misfortune of humanity is not over. In 2052 started another world war between China, USA, and Russia, which lasted seven years and was called “the Great decimation” (the decimation in the Roman army called the execution of every tenth by a lot). A large part of the planet’s surface became uninhabitable due to the nuclear bombing. In 2059 on the territory of the former Europe, a Fifth of the Polish Republic, whose population was 62 million people. It is ruled by one of the most powerful corporations Chiron, who survived the war. Observers of the Corporation are trying to prevent uprisings and fight with any manifestations of dissent in the country.
One of the observers is the protagonist of the game – Daniel Lazarski. He suffers from the digital nanotag virus, but suppresses it in his body, taking expensive medication, “Synchrotron” issued by the Corporation to its employees. The history of the Observer starts in 2084 when the main character gets a call from the son of Adam, with whom he lost contact many years ago. Daniel feels that his child is in danger and traced the call, it appears in the old apartment complex for the poor. In the suspected apartment of the son of Daniel discovers someone’s headless body then rushes to find the killer, hoping that his son is still alive.
Unfortunately, the result is a mysterious system failure, the building is cut off from the outside world, so the further the game takes place exclusively within its limits. Neither of which open world do not even dream. Developer Bloober Team is no stranger to working with confined spaces, so especially do not worry about diversity. With him here, everything is in order. Oppressive atmosphere, combining high technology and endemic poverty, the frightening realism with which she embodied on the screen. People do not trust each other and hate the employees of the Corporation Chiron, but the main character has long been accepted. Work is work.
In the Arsenal of Daniel, there are two essential tools. The electromagnetic shield allows him to explore different mechanisms and electronic devices, including implants. And thanks to the natural buffer the observer can analyze, for example, blood stains, torn hair, and other tissue found at the crime scene. Switching between the two visors, the player will find clues and get out on the trail continually eludes him criminal, to find out what happened in the apartment where he lived the son of the main character.
Another essential tool of observers is the ability to enter the minds of other people, provided that their brains are implanted with the corresponding augmentation, and it is compatible with existing observer equipment. If you wish to penetrate even into the mind of the deceased person, but company rules strictly prohibit it, as the operative could eventually hurt me. Inside the people’s consciousness of the observer every time it appears in an entirely new place, not subject to the laws of physics and logic. What the time passes is not so, their own rules propagate gravity, light, and sound, and indeed one gets the impression that you are trapped in someone’s nightmare.
That’s just here the same “horror” that I talked about above. Surreal scenes that you have to contemplate in the maze of someone else’s mind, it can permanently get you out of balance. Frankly, the poles managed to create such a virtual spooky atmosphere that from time to time I deliberately turned off the game to recover. Sometimes I had the feeling that I’m about to go crazy along with the main hero of the game. And what in the second was Daniel Lazarski, I’m even afraid to imagine. Creepy allusions, nightmarish imagery, fixated space, oppressive background sound – this game can be easily used to torture inmates at Guantanamo Bay. And that she is beautiful.
Out of another’s consciousness is not so simple. You have to solve various puzzles to move through a psychedelic nightmare, focusing on the not always clear prompts that activate crazy mechanisms using, for example, flying TV, crying like a child. In General, very difficult for me to explain to you all this psychedelic variety of simple human words. I’ll never know where the poles were inspired to create their game, but all this gives the player a lasting impression. Nothing like I have in my entire life not seen anywhere else.
While in reality, you will eventually have to communicate with tenants via individual intercoms built into doors of their apartments. Still, after all, no one is eager to open the door to the corporate tracker. Dialogue system rarely gives a choice, often merely giving the protagonist the necessary information. The people with whom you can communicate face to face, in the game you will find almost no that only reinforces the sense of loneliness and helplessness. There are some rats; pigeons are stupid, robotic cleaners, and the ubiquitous digital advertising.
Periodically you will come across on personal computers and terminals, in which you can find many exciting things. This private correspondence, and the most recent issues of periodicals, and a variety of applications, one of which is a video game With Fire and Swords: Spiders. With each new found computer you will be able to pass it to a new level. As a knight you have to collect all the gold coins scattered throughout the maze, to escape from giant spiders and get to the gold-hungry Princess. If the first levels are passed very quickly, the closer to the middle of the game the puzzles become incredibly tricky.
The game has stealth elements. In some locations, you have to covertly sneak past enemies unnoticed to merge information from computers and to seek out virtual mazes at a time as you wanted. Not to say that the stealth in the game is diverse and multifaceted. But it adds tension to the already extremely nervous gameplay. Do not have time to recover from the previous shock, as you are waiting for a new test of the nervous system for strength. The developers skillfully played with the emotions of the players, and they are, perhaps, no equal.
From a visual point of view of the Observer is commendable. The artists managed to create on the screen at once frightening and impressive world of the near future, while paying tribute to such works as “Blade Runner”, “1984”, “Nirvana” and “Brazil”. The core of the game is the graphics engine Unreal Engine 4, allowing developers managed to implement a lot of really cool visual effects that enhance the already powerful impact of the game on the psyche of the players. In the Observer there are also great sound and music. They complement the visual component and multiplies it, making your adventure even more atmospheric.
The main disadvantages of the game lie in its optimization. Sometimes I had 10 seconds to stand there and repeatedly poke the door handle, waiting until you see the next location. But most of all, of course, annoyed me with constant freezes for no reason. I passed on the PS4, so can’t say anything about versions for other platforms. Once the game just hung tight and refused to obey any commands with a game controller. Had to reboot it and start to pass all control points. And, of course, sometimes I lost my temper when I could not find a way out of another’s consciousness. Developers sometimes put the player in such a position that he does not understand what to do next. This, fortunately, does not happen very often.
- A fresh mix of cyberpunk and horror.
- A solid immersion in the gameplay.
- To be inside someone else’s consciousness is unique.
- Great design endlessly bleak future.
- Great acting Rutger Hauer.
- A great work of composer and sound designer.
- Not everybody can stand such pressure on the psyche.
- From the labyrinths of the mind are sometimes tricky to get out.
- Too long loading between locations.
- Periodically, the game significantly slows down.
The observer is a perfect example that even a relatively small team of developers, not having a multimillion-dollar budget, can create something remarkable. Cyberpunk horror expertly engages players in a dizzying and perilous journey through the world of the future and other minds. Unusual terms of visionary production and eerie psychedelic in its versatility, the game probably will still be dreaming of you after the final credits. If you feel ready for such a test of your nervous system, you should have a 100 grams for bravery. Let’s assume that you’ve been warned. For its uniqueness, the game gets from me 9 out of 10.