With Observer, the Bloober Team launched a dystopian horror cyberpunk game in 2017 that was convincing for a long time, but overall was anything but perfect. Now fans can slip into the role of Daniel Lazarski again, the future detective who gave actor Rutger Hauer face and voice. The game makes the leap into the next generation and is available with the subtitle "System Redux" for Playstation 5 and Xbox Series X | S, among others. This not only promises a much better look, but also a much denser atmosphere - because that's exactly what the original version was able to score.


The 2017 version of Observer was already able to score with the visualizations. Games were confronted with productions that were unique up to that point in time. The Bloober team played to their strengths and turned the cyberpunk game into an intense, albeit playfully shallow, psychological horror. Fundamentals have not changed at Observer: System Redux, here and there there has been a bit of tweaking, there is a little more content - however, the developers achieved the greatest coup with the graphic presentation, which made some already intense scenes from back then even more intense power. We tested Observer: System Redux, by the way, on the Xbox Series X.

2084: a hundred years after “Big Brother”

First of all: Oberserver: Redux looks terrific and conveys a cyberpunk feeling, as one would hope for from Cyberpunk 2077. The surroundings are dingy, gloomy, uncomfortable, exude this strange atmosphere with a mixture of high-tech glamor and gutter. You know that from film settings, here you can lend a hand yourself.

In the game, we write the year 2084, which takes place almost exactly 100 years after the events of George Orwell's novel 1984. Hardly a coincidence, especially since the player encounters the literary work early in the cyberpunk world, here in the futuristic version of the Polish city of Krakow. The story unfolds slowly: Daniel Lazarski is sitting in his car, throws himself a pill, then the phone rings ...

10 a.m. in Kraków: time for a break? Source: Spielpunkt

10 a.m. in Kraków: time for a break? Source: Spielpunkt

Observer: System Redux can be classified as a classic psycho-horror game, even if you are confronted with only a handful of jumpscares in the course of the game. However, they also sit accurately. Otherwise it's more the subtle thrill and the mixture of the futuristic-clean locations and dirty Gore elements, but in a "light" version. What is particularly positive about this work is the progression among the developers themselves: For example, if Layers of Fear was a good, but classic and therefore thematically despondent horror game, Observer: System feels like an experiment.

The Bloober team apparently wanted to bring a breath of fresh air to the horror genre with the cyberpunk game as early as 2017 - and this impression has now become even stronger. Basically there was no need to revise the game for next-gen consoles, unless the developer wanted to try to get even more out of the idea by upgrading the look. The creators succeeded in doing just that: everything looks high-resolution and with HDR a bit more threatening. The danger of nanophage, a digital epidemic, is more noticeable in the technological settings and gimmicks at Observer: System Redux just looks even better, looks even more advanced and thus corresponds much more to the basic theme.

On the new consoles - here on the Xbox Series X - the new version of Observer looks pretty impressive. Source: Spielpunkt

On the new consoles - here on the Xbox Series X - the new version of Observer looks pretty impressive. Source: Spielpunkt

 The Observer as a synonym for the modern Big Brother, from whom you can't hide anything, not even your thoughts, is scary. The game draws its psychological horror a lot more from the setting than the gameplay, the latter being comparatively shallow. In the first person perspective you roam around, explore locations, solve puzzles, hold conversations and learn step by step what Observer is all about.

The title is most comparable to a classic detective game, in which searching for and finding clues drives the story and character development forward. There is no action, nor are there weapons - the focus is on a leisurely process with many repetitive elements. This can be annoying in the long run, but you should accept it, then you have fun with Observer, whose basic storyline revolves around finding Daniel Lazarski's son. Because the residents of the slums are not particularly willing to provide information to observers, you will often immerse yourself in the thoughts of others. Otherwise you are left alone, in two respects: On the one hand, because you are on your own as an observer, are not liked and are confronted with the constant isolation of other characters; on the other hand, because the game takes you by the hand a little. Especially at the beginning you have to find your way around, wander around, thereby sinking time with senseless actions that you could save yourself if you had been better informed about the basics of play.

The moment when the game really picks up speed comes quickly... Source: Spielpunkt

The moment when the game really picks up speed comes quickly... Source: Spielpunkt

One of the things Observer: System Redux demands from players is patience. The path sometimes leads from A to B, back to A, back to B - then the structure of the locations, which is understandable in terms of the setting, but is uniform, is not very helpful. What mostly compensates in such situations is the cramped feeling that creeps into the player when you go from door to door, nobody opens it, you can only contact the residents via a communication terminal next to the door. The fear of the observer is always palpable, that makes you feel powerful, although the alternatives for action are limited over long distances.

Basically, the gameplay is divided into two parts: you walk around, scan objects, collect clues. It works, but it's not very exciting. But then there are the moments when you hack into the heads of other characters: Then the game feels completely different, if only because of the strange atmosphere. It feels even better in the new version, because it feels even more immersive - the optimized graphics create a mood, make the psychological horror even more tangible and, above all, make excursions into the minds of other characters look even more strange, wacky and frightening. 

Images for Observer: System Redux

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Infobox

Number of players: 1
Age: USK 18
Difficulty: medium
Long-term motivation: low
Genre: horror game
Sub-genre: Cyberpunk detective game

Developer: The Bloober Team
Official Website: Link
Year of publication: 2020
Platforms: Xbox Series X, PC (Steam, Epic, GOG, GMG), Playstation 5 
Language: English voice output, German subtitles
Cost: 29,99 Euro

Summary

With Observer: System Redux that's one of those things. Once you've really got into the game, the end is already approaching: With a playing time of a little over eight hours, the Psycho-Trip doesn't last that long, and the three new missions don't change that much, which now lead the way with the adapted version Found the game. On the other hand, the gameplay is no longer good: Each additional hour would probably feel inappropriate, artificial, superfluous. It's good that the developers created a comparatively short but intense experience. 4K, HDR and ray tracing are doing the game extremely well.

You like to follow the story: At the beginning you are completely in the dark, you first have to find your way into your role as a digi-detective, but then it gets gradually more exciting. You come across various crime scenes, conduct investigations, wander around the multi-story complex, sometimes also solving a few secondary tasks; You can even discover a mini game with a retro look. It's all solid, sometimes more entertaining, sometimes less. Last but not least, this is due to the consistently uniform gameplay: You use your various scanning methods to discover clues - this is bulky at the beginning, but works well after a familiarization - and thus pushes the story forward. 

Observer: System Redux always has highlights when it comes to delving into the minds of other characters. This is always fraught with a subtle horror, feels wonderfully strange and shows the player images that one would rather not have seen, especially in the evening. It is no coincidence that this play element in particular works so well: it is basically the main components and the central skill of the observers. The Bloober team succeeds in a terrific way in transporting the Psycho-Trips in an audiovisually impressive way. Some pictures are disturbing, seem to be meaningless, then suddenly everything comes together. 

Observer: System Redux benefits from the generation leap: The world looks even smoother. This makes the setting, kept in typical cyberpunk manner, even more believable. Games are seldom so scruffy. The biggest advantage of the next-gen versions, however, is the increased performance. While Observer was still struggling with himself and his technology in 2017, everything is now running smoothly: You switch between the scan modes and you almost seamlessly latch onto the memories of others. The fact that the rather solid gameplay - with some quite boring passages - cannot keep up with the presentation and the setting, is negligible in view of the good story. At Observer: System Redux, the game is basically not the star - the highlight is what this title can do with the player. Often you are preoccupied with yourself because of what is presented, puzzling, wondering what you are actually seeing on the screen. Observer: System Redux is more psychological than horror and more experience than game, but this project consistently brings its few strengths to the fore. 


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Xbox Series X Xbox Series X* 499,00 EUR

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Last updated on 25.09.2022/XNUMX/XNUMX / Affiliate Links / Images from the Amazon Product Advertising API. * = Affiliate links. Images from Amazon PA API