Of all the launch lineup for the new-generation of systems, one title that seems to have snuck under the radar is Observer: System Redux.
It’s something of a reimagining of the Bloober Team’s 2017 game starring Rutger Hauer, perhaps best known as Blade Runner’s Roy Batty and the deliverer of this iconic monologue. (Major spoilers for Blade Runner if you’ve never seen it before, btw)
Blade Runner is a good comparison for Observer as both properties are very colourful and vibrant, while also managing to be quite dark and somber. It’s an interpretation of the future that seems pretty popular among sci-fi writers.
The difference this time is Rutger isn’t an extremely powerful Replicant who kills in the name of learning more about the essence and fragility of life, he is an Observer who analyses crime scenes and ventures deep into the subconscious of the dying to solve crimes.
Of course, he still has no shortage of great lines and a compelling story to work with, making for a fitting project to honor the legacy of a legend of stage and screen, but the role is certainly quite a different one.
Observer System Redux follows the original story of Detective Daniel Lazarski in the year 2084. Daniel stumbles across what seems to be an encrypted message from his son who he hasn’t heard from in years. It draws him to an apartment block where there are clues as to the whereabouts of Lazarski’s son, while the other residents within are harbouring their own secrets that leads to other unique stories.
System Redux is almost a complete rebuild of the game, adding in new side-stories to add more context to the wider world, while also building in new mechanics and secrets. It fills out the game much more than before and gives a reason for veteran players to jump back in.
There’s a ton of quality of life updates to make the experience less glitchy and buggy. And, of course, the game now runs in 4K, looking more crisp and radiant than ever before. The character models are among the most realistic and well polished of all the games at launch for Series X, which is quite an accomplishment for the studio.
Observer offers one of the most immersive, intriguing and enriching sci-fi worlds in gaming in recent memory. On the surface, it may not seem to be as deep as a Deus Ex or Mass Effect, but what it does offer are some strong characters and a fascinating political perspective, peppered in with a social commentary on subjects like Immaculates – those without augments – and those with them.
As Lazarski is augmented, he uses his abilities to venture into suspect’s minds, which often offers the game’s most striking, impressive moments, with thousands of bats creating pathways – a sequence which is just dazzling and seamless on Xbox Series X – as well as other fancy effects which really bend the mind and trick the senses.
Observer is a must-play adventure which often sees you talking to residents, solving puzzles, reading data files, and analyzing a crime scene to put all the pieces of an investigation together. The story is well-paced, the characters well-written, and undoubtedly, System Redux is the definitive edition of the game, looking better than ever on Xbox Series X.
That said, the game suffers from some performance issues, with regular frame rate drops and occasional texture ripping which does pull you out of the experience a little bit. As good as it looks, and as harsh as it is to say, this is currently the worst performing next-gen game I’ve played – mostly based on how good everything else has been that I’ve played on Series X.
This seems a bit ridiculous to say, really – even though it is technically true – as SR still performs almost perfectly for the most part. And even in that, the performance dips aren’t enough to ruin your enjoyment. I guess it’s just more of a surprise based on how smooth Assassin’s Creed camera is and the slickness of DiRT 5. None of the other optimised titles I’ve played quite stand out as much as Observer does. Everything else has been perfect and stable, which makes it such a shame to see Observer struggle a little bit on the hardware.
Still, it certainly is a far better performing game now than it was on PS4 / XO a few years back, and the extra content more that makes this a must-play package. True, the next-gen launch lineup is competitive, and there’s lots of choice, no matter what genre you’re into, but if you’ve yet to experience this world and you’re looking for a good sci-fi story to sink your teeth into, you’ll have a fantastic time with Observer: System Redux.
+ Strong narrative that’s well acted
+ Visuals and effects more striking than ever
+ Additional content really fills out the game and provides some needed added context
– Surprising performance dips and frame rate drops
Observer: System Redux is now available on PS5, Xbox Series S & X, and PC.
Tested on Xbox Series X
Code kindly provided by Bloober