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    dkirschner's Observer (PC)

    [April 14, 2021 11:05:45 PM]
    This is soooo much better than Layers of Fear, the other Bloober Team game I've played. Everything clicks here, and all that I remember disliking about Layers of Fear was improved upon. The setting--holy shit, it's so dystopian cyberpunk. The whole game takes place in these awful, run-down tenements full of drug addicts and people addicted to virtual reality. Your character himself needs a drug to stay sane; if you don't take it (and it's optional!), screen effects like tears and pixelation make it difficult to navigate. Plus, your software (you're heavily augmented) keeps letting you know you need to take it (which, irritatingly, interrupts any audio recordings you might be listening to).

    The tenements are on lockdown because of the outbreak of a virus that wreaks havoc on augmented people. So you, a detective, are stuck in there, and of course, there is a crime to solve. Not any crime! You find the body of your son, missing his head. You follow a trail of murders, eventually confronting the killer, and then, well, then the story gets really, really good. But the whole game until then is intriguing, largely thanks to the tenements that you can explore, knocking on people's doors and chatting with them. These were some of the most entertaining parts, learning that there is some religious cult, talking to a woman trapped by an abuser, talking to the addicts or criminals who freak out when you say you're a police officer, talking to a VR addict who thinks he's woken up captured by the enemy and locked in a dingy room, and even completing a couple little side story quests.

    But after the confrontation with the killer, some puzzle pieces fall into place, and then from there the story gets meaningful, largely, I think, with some parallels to transgender identity and issues around transitioning, as well as themes like digital consciousness and genetic modification. I liked the main character and thought the voice acting was fantastic. The visuals are creepy and beautiful with a ton of horror effects like screen distortion. The end part with the trees in the pond in particular was beauuuutiful. The audio is phenomenal. Like I said, all the elements work together.

    Gameplay wise, you're mostly walking around looking for what you can click on. You can activate two types of detective vision, one to examine technology and another to examine biological matter, which are especially useful for investigating crime scenes. You can pick up objects and look at them, and sometimes you'll need to solve puzzles, which are never too bad. I think I looked at a walkthrough for one that I was stumped on, and one time because I was tired of trying to figure it out (my least favorite part of the game, the forest that masked a warehouse).

    Occasionally, there are stealth sequences with a monster to avoid. These are bland, as the monster is easy to avoid. They can just take a little while because you have to go so slowly. Plenty of these stealth sequences (and other locations) are really messed up, like bad dreams. The main character is not entirely in touch with reality, and there are four or so really interesting sequences where you have to hack into the brain-chips of murder victims, where you get to see their own lost grips on reality. These were always very cool and changed up the gameplay. There was a bit of a pattern--explore, follow clues, find victim; hack victim and play through their memory/consciousness; learn some info, and then explore, follow clues...

    Definitely worth a play through if you like cyberpunk, detective stories, and horror. Great merger of the three.
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    dkirschner's Observer (PC)

    Current Status: Finished playing

    GameLog started on: Friday 19 March, 2021

    GameLog closed on: Wednesday 14 April, 2021

    dkirschner's opinion and rating for this game

    Atmospheric. Cool digital cityscape. ---------- Great environment, visuals, audio, and narrative.

    Rating (out of 5):starstarstarstarstar

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