Observer analysis. Dirty and cyberpunk mystery

Written by Kamran Haider

The creators of Layers of Fear offer us a new experience as ephemeral as attractive and full of mystery. The observer is a very special adventure that relies on a very powerful narrative, as distressing as it is well worked. We analyze what you propose.

With the interesting Layers of Fear, Bloober Team demonstrated his talent, there is no doubt about that. Consecrated as one of those cult jewels or author video games belonging to the horror genre, many users discovered in it a very original proposal within their genre. A year and a half later this same team brings us a new production called Observer, a very dark game that I found fascinating in many aspects. But I advance that it is not a current or traditional video game, and in fact, it costs a bit to include it within a specific genre.

Neither walking simulator, nor horror game, nor conventional first-person adventure. It is very difficult for me to encorse this work in any of these three categories because it has a bit of all of them but, also, it suffers from some of the main ingredients that are normally part of each of these genres. And in my opinion that speaks very well of the magnificent personality with which this absorbing and disturbing history offered by this small Polish studio has been graced, which bases much of its interest in its strong narrative and the character of the central protagonist.

Our task is to assume the role of Daniel Lazarski, a policeman who must investigate a really tricky case (not to say otherwise). The action takes place in a tremendously peculiar apartment building that is a true reflection of the society in which the world in which the protagonist lives has become, in this case, Poland. The rich have more and more money, but the vast majority of society lives in the most absolute poverty and, worse, they live in fear. Fear to fail. Fear of suffering some kind of physical or psychological violence. Fear of establishing contact with other people outside your circle of acquaintances. Afraid of … practically everything.

Its history is as absorbing as it is disturbing.

However, the most imminent and terrible threat facing this society has a name: autophagy. A virus that has its germ in defective or poor quality augmentation or implants that many people are forced to settle in their bodies and that, in fact, has been responsible for many deaths. But it seems that this autophagy is not responsible, much less, for the murder that has been carried out in the aforementioned depressing and dirty apartment complex that we must investigate and that gives rise to an even more suggestive and traumatic story. And so that nothing is missing, this well-designed script adds the appearance of the protagonist’s son and an organization that controls everything, Chiron, elements that add even more depth and interest.

As you can see I have bothered to present the plot on which the game revolves because, clearly, it is the strong point of the game. In fact, if what I have told you so far in this analysis does not call your attention, it is not worth it that you approach the title because the rest of its ingredients will also not convince you since they become secondary in comparison. And with that, I mean the gameplay itself, which in the end is quite simple and easy to explain.Turbulent research

Turbulent research

From a subjective perspective we have to investigate all the grotesque scenes we encounter, some of them really shocking. The way to do it is another of the differential notes that the video game treasures since the protagonist is endowed with certain eye augmentation or implants which allow you to analyze the scenarios in several different ways. Night vision, biological and electromagnetic, apart from the “normal”, of course, are all the possibilities we have to analyze each square centimeter of the sets. And we must make use of such technology because many of the clues that allow us to advance in the plot (blood, brain implants, drugs, cards, computers, etc.) can only be properly analyzed with a certain type of vision

The only problem we must have is the lack of synchrony that our protagonist can suffer or experience when using so much technology. But to solve it we can use a kind of drugs that are called synchronize and that are spread across the scenarios, which allow us to placate these symptoms.

And what else should we do in the Observer? Well, talk with the characters that have scattered across the bottoms … although many times we will do it through a door, wall or any other similar obstacle since they are not very social for the reasons I have mentioned at the beginning. The talks are quite interesting and are developed in English with Spanish subtitles (although the translation is not the most perfect I have ever seen), being able to choose between two or three different questions and answers as often happens in this type of adventure.

It is one of those adventures that keep you tense constantly

Nor are the puzzles missing, which are as scarce as they are easy to solve, as well as a curious minigame that bears the name With Fire and Steel: Spidersto which we can go playing at their different levels as we access the different computers that are distributed throughout the apartment. A title whose mechanics, aspect and playable disposition are very reminiscent of what the microcomputers of the 80s offered us. And there is no action? Well, without wanting to reveal anything transcendent, some scene really animates things in this field, but I already tell you that in general it is a very slow title (or relaxed) … and since we are, quite easy to overcome given That doesn’t put our ability at all in check at any time.

Even so, and in spite of everything I have already told you about the Observer, the most interesting of all that he proposes in the playable matter are the neural connections that we must establish with certain characters. That is when we get into their minds to try to revive in an incredibly distorted, paranoid and extremely curious way the memories of each subject, many of them really unstable. These sequences are tremendous, sometimes very visceral and offer us continuous visions of which it is difficult to distinguish between reality and fiction, dream and deception, lucidity and lack of control …

All this I just explained is combined in a very accurate way to shape a very striking and tense gaming experience. And it is that in my opinion, more than a horror game as many have cataloged it, it is rather an adventure of those that make you uneasy and keep you very tense constantly. Yes, some scare you get from time to time, but they are rather sporadic. What prevails is the atmosphere of oppression, the feeling of loneliness and the fact of not knowing well what we face or, worse, what awaits us behind every door or every thought or memory in which we must dive into A permanent anguish that becomes a drug that is difficult to resist during the four or five hours that the adventure lasts.

A duration something meager but, believe me, it is the ones that are enjoyed a lot while it lasts, at least if you are interested in its plot and you know what to expect from this type of game where the action shines by its absence. To put some buts, in my opinion, it is somewhat annoying to have to use up to three different buttons to use each type of specific vision. Something tiresome and I think they could have merged all or, at least, more than one at a time. I don’t know, I think that with a kind of detective mode similar to the one enjoyed in titles like the Batman Arkham series would have been enough. Changing constantly from one to another has made me tired even visually since the color filter varies greatly from one type of vision to another. But come on, it is not a serious defect, much less.

Another virtue of the Observer is found in its aesthetics. The designers give us an incredibly well-conceived staging and that swims between several glasses of water. The cyberpunk touch intermingles with a dark, dirty and turbulent alternative reality to unsuspected limits. One of the most laudable artistic works that I remember in an independent game that, in addition, is not exempt from enough technical quality thanks to the use of Unreal Engine 4. Yes, some characters are somewhat rough and the title suffers from certain falls in the frame rate at specific times, but in the case of a leisurely adventure, none of these problems reach any significance. And finally, the sound is not bad either, with a very good dubbing and purely environmental melodies that give life to a very special atmosphere.

Recommended: Yakuza Kiwami analysis. Yakuza Extreme


The creators of Layers of Fear return with a fascinating, short but incredibly interesting and claustrophobic adventure, which leaves us with one of the most suggestive indie experiences of how many have appeared during this summer. A very well recreated and disturbing story is reinforced by very well characterized characters, a very remarkable dark, and cyberpunk setting and the occasional little playable surprise. It could have been deeper, more extensive and perhaps varied, but in spite of that, it is a really recommended adventure.

  • The plot is followed with much interest. It is magnificent
  • The atmosphere is disturbing as few. Give up grima
  • Neural connections with other characters leave us incredible sequences
  • The adventure is short and easy to overcome
  • Switch between so many different types of vision sometimes “tide”

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Kamran Haider

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