Observer: System Redux
Developer: Bloober Team
Publisher: Aspyr Studios
Genre: First-person, Psychological-Horror
Platform: Xbox Series X|S, PlayStation 5, PC
Age Rating: 18
Release Date: 10/11/2020
A code was provided for review purposes.
Observer: System Redux is a remake that just so happens to also be the first for this new generation of gaming. Blooper Team and Aspyr have decided to remaster the psychological horror of Observer to take advantage of the new technology and power available with the Xbox Series X and the PlayStation 5. This means that the cyberpunk world now features HDR lighting, support for 4K resolution, Ray Tracing and improved character animations.
Observer: System Redux also happens to feature the voice and likeness of the late, great Rutger Hauer. Fans of Ridley Scott’s Blade Runner will already be familiar with Hauer’s work. And if anyone can pull off a convincing cyberpunk performance, it’s Rutger Hauer.
Observer: System Redux is a cross between a point and click adventure and a walking simulator. With very little being changed for the remake in that respect. As we progress through the game, we have to examine the environment for clues as well as switching between two vision modes to uncover electronic devices and signals. Much in the same way as the original game, we also have to hack directly into the minds of suspects and witnesses.
The biggest and most noticeable change to Observer: System Redux is the way it’s stealth now works. Stealth was easily the most frustrating and disappointing thing in the original Observer. It wasn’t uncommon to get an instant game over screen when trying to hide from the strange monster that haunts our player’s dreams. Thankfully there now seems to be some level of leeway and we don’t have to get everything spot on. This also means that we don’t get immediately punished and forced to restart the section. The monster also has fewer places to hide all in part to the reworked lighting effects.
Observer: System Redux has also seen it’s hacking mechanic receive a well-needed quality of life upgrade. Hacking now plays as a sort of mini-game and doesn’t require us to have intricate knowledge of the game world. Hacking into systems now involves seeing which letters and numbers don’t change on a grid of switching characters. This way feels more appropriate to the game and allows us to stay more immersed in the world.
Random Access Memory
The story to Observer: System Redux has also stayed the same in this remake. We take control of Detective Daniel Lazarski, as he attempts to find his son Adam whos missing in the dystopian futuristic world. Set in 2084, the world is vastly different from what it is now. A plague called the Nanophage has decimated mankind, and in its wake has caused a rampant use of cybernetic augmentation. Detective Lazarski has modifications of his own and is called an Observer. As an Observer, Lazarski can police the citizens of this dystopia by hacking directly into their minds. Ouch!
What makes Lazarski such a memorable character is the late, Rutger Hauer’s performance. Hauer lends both his voice and likeness to Lazarski and plays the detective extremely well. I’ve always admired Hauer’s work and playing a video game as the late, great actor is a real treat. Naturally, with Observer it’s hard not to pick similarities with Hauer’s portrayal of Blade Runner’s Roy Batty. But, if anything his portrayal of Lazarski is more in tune with a gritty detective noir thriller, than sci-fi horror.
As part of the remake Observer: System Redux also features three entirely new side quests. These side quests fit seemingly into the overall narrative, rather than being tacked on to the games ending. These extra missions do a grand job of bringing more insight to the world of Observer and also give returning players of the original (like myself) a reason to return to the remake.
If anything the biggest improvement to Observer: System Redux is with its graphics. The cast of characters look incredible and far more realistic than before. These new and fresh character models work great to bring the techno-noir thriller to life, and the game wouldn’t be as good without them. Environmental textures have also seen a massive improvement, and as such, the higher resolution textures and fluid animations help build a visually compelling world. Lighting has also been vastly improved with extra contrast now added to various locations.
As remakes go Observer: System Redux is up there with the best of them. Not only has the gameplay and visuals been vastly improved, but it also highlights what the next-gen consoles can do. The graphical issues that plagued the original are now gone, and in their place is a crisp environment that begs to be explored. When combined all together, this makes for a compelling game that any sci-fi or thriller fan should play. For both fans of the original Observer, or if you’re discovering the series, Observer: System Redux is worthy of your time.
Rapid Reviews Rating
You can purchase Observer: System Redux on the Microsoft store by clicking here.
You can find and read our reviews on OpenCritic.