After watching the trailer for the Switch Version of Observer I was left excited. It looked dark, gritty and full of the sci-fi inspirations I love. It had Blade Runner influences, it had the dystopian look of a Bioshock game and I could not believe this was running on the Nintendo Switch. For a console known for its cutesy platformers and farming games, it definitely looked different for a Switch title. It was nice to finally see an edgy adult game on Nintendo’s portable console hybrid.
Observer is set in Kraków, Poland in 2084. In a time where a digital plague known as the nanophage has killed thousands and has sent the human race spiralling into drug use and war. Chiron, a massive corporation has taken over Poland and uses the Observers as a special police force to take control of the civilians and have a licence to hack their minds. Early in the game, you get a call from your son, who, judging by the conversation, you have a very fragmented relationship with. It’s a strange call and it ends up with you tracking your son’s ID chip to his living quarters. You are greeted with a bloody body, it could be your son but it also might not be. This leads you to be thrust into an investigation into the deaths of many people, including possibly your sons.
You play Daniel Lazarski, who is played by Rutger Hauer of all people. Dan is a detective with fascinating abilities and who often uses his skills to trawl peoples minds for information and evidence. You can hack civilians brain implants and live their memories. This leads to some very outrageous and disturbing scenes in the game. Also in Dan’s arsenal of tools are two forms of augmented vision, bio vision and electromagnetic vision. These tools are used to survey crime scenes, piece together information and hack terminals. Armed with these tools you set out on a gruesome journey of intrigue and murder.
In Observer, your main duties will be scanning the environment for objects and interacting with them accordingly. It’s all quite basic but paired with the dystopian environments and the bleak surroundings it makes a very interesting experience. You have to open doors with your analog stick, you have to move wooden planks and even open draws yourself. It’s all very tactile. During your investigations, you will be using many terminals, keypads and various technological outputs. You will be reading emails and reading news articles a lot in your investigations. There may even be games installed on certain computers for you to play in between grilling suspects. The whole game is a basic point and click experience really but its the presentation that makes it shine.
This title also has a slight horror game feel to it. The dark corridors, the freaky sounds and some of the mind sequences all give you an uneasy feeling. I quite often felt alone and slightly scared. TV’s turn on as you walk past them, eerie sound effects play at the worst times and some of the scenes are set up to keep you on edge. I don’t play many horror games but it was fun, even though I walked through some of the games scarier sequences very slowly like a wuss.
The whole game has an edgy, gritty look that kind of makes you forget about its low resolution. The environments are very nicely designed, it’s dark, dingy and run-down. There are neon lights everywhere and walking around the world was a constant joy for a sci-fi fanatic like me, buildings are falling apart and the world has fallen into squalor. There is a constant eerie glow from the terminals and lights, it’s all beautifully dreadful to look at. Observer also some very good visual effects in play, your view will often get pixelated as your implants malfunction or you use them to hack terminals. It all adds to the cyber future being depicted, I really loved the overall presentation and design of Observer.
Sound-wise, Observer was excellent, quite often the game was slightly off-putting. You could hear whispering in peoples rooms, you could hear strange noises in corridors and it quite often had me on edge. The soundtrack was very good and fitted the game perfectly. The sound design in some of the mind-reading sequences was freaky and once again, really left me feeling uncomfortable. The pairing of great sound and excellent presentation is this titles greatest asset. I was totally immersed in it’s disgusting, yet fascinating world.
On the whole, the title performed well. Although, there were a few times where doors would not open properly or interactions with objects failed. The framerate would also take a dive here and there but both of these issues were not immersion breaking and not too jarring. Apart from these issues the game performed well enough to keep you grounded in its fantastic world.
This is a title like no other on this platform. It’s not the type of title normally seen on the Nintendo Switch but it’s definitely a welcomed one. It’s a gritty adult title that has an amazing sci-fi dystopian style to it. The gameplay may be basic but it makes up for it with style and its presentation. Even though the resolution is quite low and there are slight framerate issues, I really enjoyed playing through this game’s story. If you like sci-fi tales or exploring a possible look at our cyber future, you will enjoy this title. If you like mysteries and point and click gameplay, you will also enjoy this game. It’s not perfect by any means but it is like no other game on the Nintendo Switch and it’s worth your time and money.
*Code kindly provided by the publisher for review*