Bloober Team’s caught us gamers’ attention with Layers of Fear back in 2016, a narrative horror adventure with an eerie setting. From that moment, they focused on horror adventures and increased their game catalogue with Observer, Layers of Fear 2 and Blair Witch.
With the launch of the new generation of consoles comes Observer: System Redux, an improved or remastered version of the title they released three years ago. The remastered edition not only proposes enhanced visuals, but it has new missions, so if you missed playing this cyberpunk horror adventure during the last-gen, here’s your chance to experience it on new generation consoles with more content.
We play as Daniel Lazarski, an elite detective voiced by Rutger Hauer, the best dutch actor known for his character from the original Blade Runner. I have to say the developers truly got me, as the game starts with our character in a car, which looks almost identical to Harrison Ford’s character in the original Blade Runner, it almost feels like this will be a video game remake of the movie, but the story unfolds differently in the end.
We are Observer in a very dark future, and we have the ability to get into the minds of suspects, dead or alive, to extract clues and evidence. Hence, the adventure starts with a murder notice in an apartment building that needs to be investigated and to make things worse, that victim turns out to be our son. Switching between two views, one to search and analyze biological clues and the digital, we use to sweep the scenarios while looking for information, interviewing suspects and getting into the minds of some characters, in nightmarish scenes that are spectacular, similar to those we experience in Layers of Fear and similar scenes in Blair Witch. These sequences perfectly merge terror and cyberpunk in awe-inspiring rarely seen moments. The whole adventure takes place in this building, with several floors, basements and houses, in a rather maze-like structure and with a very claustrophobic setting, and it simply gives you the chills.
Observer System Redux is a graphic adventure, and you are not going to find any hard puzzles. The game always gives you hints to find some clues or passwords and know where to use them because the scenario where it takes place is quite large and is easy to get lost. There are also certain moments you need to master stealth, but you will rarely come across these, and I believe the developer put these moments to change the game’s pace, so it doesn’t feel repetitive.
The story touches to themes such as transhumanism, is a prevalent subject for these type of cyberpunk horror adventure type games. However, the title’s team could have given more on the story as it feels like a missed opportunity. The remastered version comes with three new secondary missions, and it shows that now they have new ideas and that some of them are more complex and interesting. It is not the usual thing for a narrative adventure to have secondary missions, but the game’s structure feels great. It is a pleasure conscientiously explore every corner of this apartment block, solving puzzles and meeting eccentric tenants, who portray very well that year 2084 in which humanity has definitely lost its mind.
There are so many changes and new features in this Redux version that it could almost be considered a remake, so we were surprised that they had not fixed some details that hinder the gameplay. For example, the unnecessarily confusing mission tracking menu, a bit chaotic to know what you are doing or what objectives you are meeting. The worst thing is the interaction with the environment elements, which require you to be at a distance with a minimal margin of error, neither too close nor too far, right where the game wants, which does not make much sense. This becomes a problem because until you are at that exact distance, the interact icon does not appear. It is straightforward to be exploring rooms, which are full of details and miss something important because you did not get to the right distance one too concrete. The story, along with its secondary missions, takes roughly eight to ten hours to finish.
As an exclusive to the PS5, some of the functions of the DualSense, are used, such as the haptic feedback in different situations or the use of adaptive triggers to interact with the different elements, such as doors or other objects that we go touching or moving, something that is done constantly. The Bloober Team has taken advantage of the new consoles and put them into good use to enhance the experience.
System Redux is the spectacular graphic facelift that the original title has received, in every way. The original version was already an amazing-looking game when it was launched. Still, this version comes with new textures, lighting, ray tracing, rain, smoke and fog effects, new models and animations for the characters, settings with more details. The team hasn’t ignored anything and achieved the graphics overhaul of a true next-gen title. Observer System Redux is one of the most stunning graphics we’ve seen on the new consoles.
On PS5 and Xbox Series X, it can be played at 1080p and 60fps, totally stable, and then there is the better graphics mode, in which PS5 can play with ray tracing 1080p and with a highly variable image rate, ranges between 30 to 50fps. There is no ray tracing on Xbox Series X. Instead, there is a 4K mode, with 40 to 60fps. Playing the game at 1080p and 60fps still looks great. They have already said that they will incorporate ray tracing in the X / S Series version at a later update.
Due to both the technical aspect and the elaborate art direction, in some specific locations, the amount of detail and sophisticated lighting is such that it becomes photorealistic. Observer: System Redux has made us see that we can expect great things from the narrative or horror adventures genre over the coming years because all the power of the new consoles and PCs dedicated to closed and narrow stages, in which a lot of detail can be put on screen, developers can achieve amazing things, and Observer System Redux is the proof of what’s possible.
The original Observer was an amazing title. And with System Redux, we get new content and enormous graphic improvements. They make it a truly nextgen looking horror adventure in a cyberpunk setting, and there is nothing similar to Observer on nextgen systems yet. If you like the cyberpunk setting and horror adventures, Observer System Redux will not disappoint you, and a must buy if you already adopted a next-gen system.
We prepared this review by playing the game on PS5 with a digital review code provided by Evolve PR.