Review: Observer (Switch) - Japan-based Nintendo Podcasts, Videos & Reviews!


Wednesday, February 20, 2019

Review: Observer (Switch)

by Danny Bivens

Let’s got on a dystopian tour of Poland with our pal Rutger Hauer.
Observer has been available on other platforms such as the PS4, Xbox One and PC since the summer of 2017. Getting inspiration from movies like Blade Runner, the game has seen high praise since its release. Now, the game is out on Switch. For those that don't know, Observer is a first person adventure game set in a dystopian, cyberpunk futuristic version of Poland in the year 2084. Governments are dead leaving room for corporations to rule the world. Players take control of Dan Lazarski, who works as an observer - basically a detective that has the ability to break into your thoughts to help solve crimes. Observer starts out with Dan searching for the whereabouts of his son.

Controls in the game are a bit complex, but you’ll get used to it after a short time with the game. You control Lazarski with the left analog stick and use the right analog stick to look around and move around a reticle that is used to help do things like opening doors, cabinets, as well as investigate the surrounding area. Observer contains a number of basic puzzles to solve, too. These range from gather clues to figure out passcodes to open locked doors to creepy things like dragging around a floating, laughing TV to various plugs to proceed. These elements aren’t hard per se, but if you’re like me, it might take some trial and error to figure out where to go next.
Lazarski is equipped with a few different sensors that can help aid in his investigations. Using the R and L buttons activate a bio and electromagnetic vision sensor. These help you track down clues that are scattered throughout crime scenes, whether they be organic (blood, body parts, etc) or mechanical or electronic (computers, wiring, implants, etc) in nature. One of the coolest ideas in Observer is the ability to essentially hack into the minds of victims or assailants - alive or dead. Doing this brings you into trippy, surreal versions of the real world as seen through the target’s mind. A lot of information can be found in these sequences, as well as some of the creepiest moments happen here in the game. I found myself enjoying these segments the most. I never really knew what to expect going into these, which I saw as a good thing. They can be incredibly strange and terrifying, but fun and interesting.

One thing that I noticed right off the bat was how slowly Lazarski moved. Fortunately you do have the ability to run by pressing in the left analog stick, but this doesn’t alleviate the issue. Even after initiating the run, it still feels as though Dan is a power walk rather than a run. Since you’ll be spending the majority of the game walking around (you won’t find any combat here), this will be a little frustrating for players.
Graphically, Observer on the Switch is interesting. While the art direction in general is excellent, the game does look a little bit muddy on Nintendo’s hybrid console. The character models that you’ll find in the game look particularly blurry. Environments and other effects also appear to be washed out - things just don’t look too sharp. There were also some issues with slowdown, however, I couldn’t tell if that was because the game was pushing the engine too hard or because of some of the trippy ambiance the developer was going for in a particular scene. There are plenty of games that perform better on the platform, but Observer remains in the middle of the pack on the visual side of things.

The sound is perhaps one of the best aspects of the game. The voice acting by Rutger Hauer is top notch, and other audio effects mixed with some of the visual craziness come together nicely. While visuals play a big part of the experience, the conversations and overall story are what you’ll want to come to Observer for. There’s a lot going on and you’ll probably ask yourself, “What the hell is going on?!” multiple times throughout your time with the game.
Observer on the Switch is a trippy experience that features some great sound design and art directions. The story is dark, the setting is really cool and the game can just be flat out creepy at moments. On the downside, character models are a bit blurry, movement is slow and the pace of the game can drag on a bit as well. It’s still a good game that will scratch that survival horror itch.

Final Score: 7.0

[Review code provided by the publisher]

No comments: