Developer: No Code
Publisher: Devolver Digital
Genre: Adventure, Horror, Simulation
Platform: PlayStation 4
Audience: PEGI 16
Release Date: 21/05/2019
Price: £19.99 – Rapid Reviews UK was very kindly provided with a review code for this title.
What The Developer Says
Observation is a sci-fi thriller uncovering what happened to Dr. Emma Fisher, and the crew of her mission, through the lens of the station’s artificial intelligence S.A.M. Players assume the role of S.A.M. by operating the station’s control systems, cameras, and tools to assist Emma in discovering what is happening to the station, the vanished crew, and S.A.M. himself.https://store.playstation.com/en-gb/product/EP3643-CUSA09849_00-OBSERVATION00000
You are met with nothing but darkness and the sound of an alarm sounding off in the distance and a low rumbling sound all around. Then a beam of light splits the night showing what seems to be a space station with miscellaneous items floating in mid-air. Then the light goes as the space station spins away from the sun, allowing the player to get the sense that something is not right.
It is about now that you will be wondering why can I not move? What has happened? Where is everyone? It is at this point a voice can be heard talking asking for help. Asking for S.A.M. you reply, you are the A.I. of the space station. There is a reboot sequence and you are met by Dr Emma Fisher. The screen shows strange images, and the words Bring Her.
It is now Dr Fisher and S.A.M. to find out what is and has happened in the space station. It is here I will stop with the story as I will do not only a disservice to the developers at No Code but also you the player, as I would need a lot more than this review. Moreover, I need you to experience this story for yourself.
Observation is a puzzle simulator whereby you as S.A.M. are both tasked to make parts of the ship accessible, get systems up and running.
The gameplay is intuitive and straightforward to get to grips with but makes everything flow. The puzzles are mixed in with the narrative, making the tasks set by Dr Fisher make sense. I do not want to go into any real detail about any puzzles as that is the big part of the fun. I will stick to different aspects of puzzles.
S.A.M has two ways to navigate the station, passing through the network and using the cameras to view each room and switching between the cameras to see the room and interact with the room. There is also the small ball from the promo artwork. This allows for a full 360-degree range of movement within the station. To start, it is a bit of a pest, but it will become second nature as you play.
S.A.M must relink with the electrical equipment within the station to interact, and this is a small mini-game. There are some timed events, along with a plethora of puzzles.
Audio & Visual
Observation is a narrative based games with Dr Fisher and S.A.M. having interactions with each other, the voice acting has to be amazing. In short, it is. The voice actors, in general, do an outstanding job throughout the game, especially Dr Fishers. Combine that with the static sounds of a radio being used, for example, and it is something any A.A.A. game would boast.
Ambient noise is used to perfection here, the creaking of the station, the propulsion of S.A.M’s orb and even Dr Fisher typing on keys all sound amazing. Along with that, the strange absence of sound makes everything creepy and alien. What I mean by that is the typical background noise., chatting, car, birds etc.
Visually, Observation is one of the better-looking games on the PS4 that has come out of a small Indie studio. While playing, it is sometimes hard to remember that this is a game and not real life. The use of the HUD is just breathtaking, giving the player the feel of being an AI.
The static effects, the images flashing, looking at the Space Station it is too good to be true, No Code have mastered how to immerse players in their world.
Being an AI leads to using lots of computer interfaces. One I like is the station map as it zooms in like the Nostromo mother ship computer and with the green wireframe pictures to boot.
Observation is something words can not provide adequate descriptions of, this has to been seen to see the world No Code has masterfully created. It was like seeing Avatar in the IMAX for the first time sort of wow.
Observation is a great and fantastic experience that everyone that can play should. Unfortunately, like all games of its type, story-driven puzzlers, there is never much in the way of reply value as once the story has been told and the puzzled solved there will be nothing new, unlike GTA where different things can happen at different times. This is just a product of the game type, unfortunately. However, this is not enough to stop you playing Observation in any way, shape or form.
Maybe one of the best games this year with its graphics and audio scope. There is no negative to highlight, and Observation is a masterpiece for a small Glasgow Indie Dev team (just up the road from myself) that needs to get some significant praise from the gaming world for what they have managed to achieve.
Rapid Reviews UK Rating
You can purchase Observation from the PlayStation Store on the following link, https://store.playstation.com/en-gb/product/EP3643-CUSA09849_00-OBSERVATION00000