Looking at Observer (the official name >Observer_ leaves me with some questions as to pronunciation) Blade Runner immediately springs to mind. The cyberpunk sci-fi setting, with run-down city streets littered with neon signs is a backdrop for what starts out as feeling like a detective-themed adventure game and winds up a horror title like no other.
The game’s main character, Dan Lazarski (played by Rutger Hauer), is an Observer – a ‘neural detective’ elite police unit, a machine/human hybrid capable of using his Dream Eater implant to jack into the implants of others to explore their memories and figure out what really happened at a crime scene. It’s this memory exploration that sets the scene for terror as Lazarski explores minds and memories that are damaged or broken, with no way to know what will happen next.
Lazarski’s mind-meld ability isn’t his only implant, and there’s some real-world detective work to do as well. Optical implants provide an augmented reality view of the world, like a biosensor that allows the detective to do in-field work like analyzing wounds that would normally be done in a lab, so there’s some flipping between views to fully explore the environments.
I must warn you, if you aren’t into jump scares you need to give Observer a wide berth as not only are they plentiful, they’re incredibly effective. Once you’re an hour into the seven to nine hours that the game lasts, the ominous sense that something is about to happen becomes a palpable force nagging at you.
Observer accomplishes this even though there are very few sequences where you can die or fail, it relies almost solely on atmosphere and audio to put the player on edge and then – all too frequently – push them over it.
4.5/5 – Observer features incredible world building, with a wealth of detail to explore and lore to learn. Good luck enjoying that while trying to avoid the next fright, though. Available now on PC, PS4, and Xbox One.