Observer: System Redux Xbox Series X Review

December 11, 2020 by  
Filed under Reviews & Features, Xbox, Xbox Series X

Publisher: Bloober Team  Developer: Bloober Team  Genre: Psychological Horror  Players: 1  

Age Rating: 18+  Other console/handheld formats: PS5, Xbox Series S


I am not going to take the lazy way out with this review and simply copy and paste my previous review of Observer on the PS4. Observer on the next generation consoles has some new elements, as well as improved graphics thanks to the power of the new machines, and while I am already familiar with the game, it’s interesting to replay it to see whether impressions have changed.

To recap, the game follows Daniel Lazarski (voiced by the late Rutger Hauer), a KPD officer who receives a call from his son. Daniel heads to his son’s apartment only to find a dead body, and the hunt begins not only for Daniel’s missing son, but also a killer on the loose in the building. Set in the future during an outbreak of a deadly nanophage virus, which affects people who have received synthetic augmentations, the building Daniel finds himself in comes under lockdown after the detection of a new outbreak, trapping him inside while he uncovers the mystery.

Daniel himself is equipped with augments, including a Dream Eater, which allows him to connect to victims to view their memories, as well as night vision, Electromagnetic vision – used to examine electronics – and Bio vision, which allows Daniel to examine blood, hair etc. Any electronic items and biological material are highlighted for you to examine when using these visions. They are put to good use initially, used mainly during crime scenes, but unfortunately are used less and less as the game progresses.

 

Janus is the only other person Daniel can speak to directly in the game. All the others are behind doors, dead, or not human…

Graphically, and as is to be expected, the game looks a lot sharper (now bumped up to full 4K), with more detail in the environments and a lot less “smog”. The environment still retains the grungy feeling it had originally, though has definitely received some spit and polish. There are plenty of videos on YouTube that compare both versions of the game for those that have already played the game and who might not be able to remember what it looked like, and you can see a stark contrast between the two.

However, gameplay-wise I still feel the same as in my previous review. I still feel the “trippy” sections of the games are boring, and the creepiest sections are when you are simply walking around the grungy, litter strewn slum of a building the game is set in, speaking to residents, examining dead bodies and trying to piece together what has happened, and where the killer is (as well as your son). The use of lighting and distant sounds is still much creepier than in-your-face hallucinogenic imagery; I didn’t find it scary. These sections are supposed to be the memories of the people you can connect to and are a good way of finding out more about characters without having to do flashback scenes, but while playing through again, I was still glad whenever I got back to some more grounded gameplay.

Towards the end of the game, these trippy sections become very prominent. It all furthers the story – you learn more about Daniel and his own past during these moments – but these trippy sections felt like a slog to get through, and would have been best in small doses. It would likely work better in VR, putting the player in the world rather than having them watching it on a TV at a distance, but there doesn’t seem to be any sign that there is going to be a VR version any time soon.

 

The starting point for one of the newly added quests.

Some extras have been added to the Redux version, including 3 new optional missions (all of which I actually missed on my playthrough), and probably the best version of the game to play is on the PS5, as that version makes use of the DualSense controller and even has raytracing, which is currently missing on Series X/S. The game also features redesigned stealth (though I couldn’t tell the difference) and expanded gameplay.

You can still tell that a lot of effort has been put into the game, with story, characters and graphics; Observer has more depth than Bloober’s previous games, such as Layers of Fear, which were clearly trial runs for a more rounded game like Observer. Bloober have found their niche in trippy style games, and if anything, I still recommend playing this game for the experience.

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