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I’m fascinated by everything to do with A.I., because they will be part of our life at some point in future. Every movie always ends up A.I.s being evil and deceitful, wanting to wipe away humans from Earth. Observation tells story of an astronaut Emma and how unexplainable events take place in international space station. Player plays as an A.I. called S.A.M. (Sam) having a job to help Emma to discover some horrible truth, that’s happening in the station.
Emma is in trouble and ask help from Sam, who has the power to control everything in the station (at the moment Sam has very limited resources). Something happened and the whole station was jumped from the orbit of Earth to the orbit of Saturn and with that the station got badly damaged. All her other team members are missing and she has to make the broken station work again. Piece by piece she gets more openings and chances to uncover the horrible truth.
The story is very linear and easy to follow, even though towards the end, and the ending itself, was little bit confusing or hard to understand fully what really happened. Being thriller-scifi the story contains lots of deaths and sudden turns of events to keep player up on toes. I liked how the plot filled evenly and got darker and more mysterious.
Gameplay & Controls
As Observation is played through eyes and mind of an A.I., players possibility to move and see around is limited. Sam’s eyes and ears were all the cameras around the stations and even they offered limited visibility. At some point, player has to use a drone-like machine to fly around and even go outside. Sam could change the camera feed around the station and use certain station’s devices and units wirelessly by just looking at them. Playing as Sam I got choices to make and usually I did what Emma wanted, because I believed in her and her success to survive. There were some situations I could deny something or decide not to do it.
I didn’t like much of the controls at the beginning, because moving the cameras was painfully slow. Moving the flying drone was little awkward, too, but I got somewhat used to them. I had to do puzzles or use puzzle-like programs to fix things or open areas, or whatever Emma needed to be done.
Observation looks nice and up-to-date. Many of the surrounding objects, notes, pictures were detailed enough to actually read them. It adds more realism and comfortable, but also little more difficulty; when I had to search something and wasn’t sure what or where to look, I went through everything I saw.
When Emma was shown I cringed a tiny bit. Her facial look and espressions were noticeably unnatural and bizarre at times, but in the end it wasn’t that bad.
I’m not sure does the story happen in future or past, but all the cameras seemed to be huge and old VHS recorders. Every camera had more or less the effects of distorted image of video recording on a damaged tape. It became annoying at some points and it felt like the developer did over-use the effect.
The station had all kinds of noises and sounds from various devices, machines and whatnot. Music was good and very movie-like when the action took place. Floating in space had some strange hums and scary sounds (even though the space is actually silent) that kinda freaked me out as playing middle of the night and headphones on. All the characters were voice acted, even Sam, and the acting was on point.
I got tasks of helping Emma in her distress and she asked me to do things that sounded gibberish to my ears. She always wanted something space station technical things that I had no idea what they were. Usually she said in English what she wanted, but adding technical things sometimes confused me. I could always ask again what she wanted, but at then, she would just answer shortly, not mentioning the needed details. Because of this I was sometimes little lost. When going outside (using the drone) of the huge station and trying to find some certain point was very difficult. After turning couple times in space I didn’t know which way I came since in space there isn’t any ups and downs, but thankfully Saturn was there to help me adjust myself.
The puzzles were different and unusual. At first glance some looked impossibly complex with all the charts and diagrams and mathematical thingies, but they were just making it appear more difficult than they actually were. With ingenious and varied puzzles, Observation hit the mark.
I’m very pleased with this game and how different it were. The gameplay of being an A.I. and making critical decisions was fun. It questioned me that do I have to make decisions by the aspect of an logical A.I. or by what I emotionally feel? I think I did both and towards the end I think my emotions took over.
Observation is good game in many ways. Of course it has some flaws here and there, but I have learned to think if an error isn’t game-breaking or appear repetitively, then it pass, but I would still point it out, though. I liked the relationship between Emma and Sam, tough situations, thriller, lost in space, unnatural events… all of it, and wish this kinds of games would be more available.
RELEASE DATE: May 21, 2019
GENRE: Adventure / Horror / Simulation
DEVELOPER: No Code
PUBLISHER: Devolver Digital
PLATFORMS: PlayStation 4
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